The Brian Head ski resort
area in southern Utah offers temperatures some 30F!!! less than Saint George and Zion during the summer months. I challenge anyone to find another place in the world where one can drive one hour, change conditions so fast and still find as many sport routes up high as there were down low. At 9700’! the relatively newly developed (1998) Running Scared Wall (originally named Ravens Crag by Todd Goss) itself offers over 35 bolted and trad routes from 40’-70’. You will be hard pressed to find a more scenic location to climb in the fall when the aspens change.
Mosquitoes aside, Running Scared Wall is just about the most beautiful crag I have ever sport climbed on. The walls are situated in a heavily populated aspen glade overlooking a large natural meadow with running streams. The aspen trees are much larger than I have experienced in the Sierras or the Canadian Rockies. I measured one such monster aspen to be over 2’ in diameter. The all present hummingbirds that we experience at the many crags around Saint George are also very prevalent at Running Scared Wall. Running Scared Wall got its name from Tyler Phillips who in 1998, while working on the routes, was followed out of the woods below the crag by a mountain lion. The texture and hardness of the basalt rock is similar to what you climb on at 4500’ in Crawdad Canyon
The Suess Wall is located dead center of Running Scared Wall and features four published routes ranging from 5.9 to 5.10b, making it a logical starter for the crag. The grades seem somewhat soft, similar to Prophesy Wall
. There is at least one additional, non-published, route to the right of Suess Wall. High School and School Room are to the right (east) and Dysfunctional and Dark Tower are to the left (west).
The Routes are Left to Right, West to East
- Lorax - 65’- 5.10a/ It will be hard to beat this route for its grade at Running Scared Wall. Same start as Places You’ll Go and Crescent Moonwalk for three bolts and then four bolts up the face of the left leaning arête, not moving out to the arête itself until right below the anchor (two rap hangers). Lorax is not as hard (overhanging) as it looks!
- Places You’ll Go - 65’- 5.9/ Ho hum, but at least more challenging than Crescent Moonwalk. Take the first three shared bolts again and turn left, but go up the face of the inside left corner versus the arête face. Places You’ll Go gets a little crimpy towards the end but a split stem move (photo) makes reaching the anchor a piece of cake. Seven bolts total to anchor.
- Crescent Moonwalk - 65’- 5.9/ This route felt no more difficult than 5.8 to me. Take the middle Suess Wall direct, then move right, back left and finish straight up on the crux move to anchor. Again, sharing first three bolts over scrambling terrain, seven total bolts to anchor.
- Flirtation - 45’- 5.10b/ Flirtation is located around the right side on the back right Suess Wall. As the name implies, definitely the route you want to focus on at Suess. Flirtation is a fun and sustained 5.10 route that is broken in the middle by a significant crack. After that it gets a little sparse. You must unlock some crimpy moves right below the anchor, if you break left on easier ground, you have not done the route.
A 50m rope
will do you as the Running Scared crags pretty much top out at 75’. Although there are plenty of sport routes to keep you busy, there are a few attractive trad routes as well, so you could bring a rack. Of course bring a handful of draws. Running Scared Wall is at 9500’!
so bring a jacket just in case. It will be much warmer in the afternoon than it is at the pass over Cedar Breaks, so don’t panic. The mosquitoes
can be bad as early as May so bring appropriate protection for that.
Head east on Highway 14 out of downtown Cedar City (the road typically opens sometime in May, pay attention to the signage) on your way to Cedar Breaks National Monument and/or Brian Head. Turn left on Highway 148 and pass through Cedar Breaks National Monument on your way to Brian Head. Turn right on Highway 143 towards Panguich Lake. Descend to 9500’ after approximately five miles. Look for the Running Scared cliff walls up and to the left of the road as you descend into a dip.
Either park on a turnoff to the right at the bottom of the dip over a running creek or proceed beyond this point in an attempt to find the logging road into the cliffs from the east. If you parked on Highway 143, cross the road to the west and follow the fence line up the hill into the aspens. Turn right on a logging road and look for a cairned (2007) trail on your left that leads to the crag.
Red Tape/Camping Dixie National Forest
, managed by the USDA Forest Service, encompasses nearly 2 million acres over 170 miles across southern Utah. It is by far the largest national forest in Utah and includes the divide between the Great Basin Desert and Colorado River.
If you plan to use a specialized facility (camping, parking, boat launch, ramps, swimming site, etc.) in the forest, you may have to pay a user fee. It appears people have camped and climbed in this area at will. Pit fires are highly discouraged if not illegal but you see at least one on the logging road.
I advise you camp at the National Forest Service Panguich Lake sites if you want to spend multiple days here. The Cedar City district
campgrounds include: Cedar Canyon, Deer Haven, Duck Creek, Navajo Lake, Panguitch Lake North, Panguitch Lake South, Spruces, Te-Ah, White Bridge and Yankee Meadows. Campsites are available on a first-come first-served basis from May 25, 2007 through June 11, 2007. Reservations for group sites can be made up to 360 days in advance. Individual campsites can be reserved up to 240 days in advance. Tent sites range for $8-12 (2007).
When to Climb
At 9500’+, climbing in the winter can definitely be too cold
in this region. But of course that means that Running Scared Crag and even further up the road, Brian Head, serve as great escapes from the searing heat in the spring and summer if you are visiting southwest Utah during a heat wave.