The Uinta Mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in North America that run east to west rather than north to south. Within the Uinta Mountains are about 2000 lakes, and some 900-1000 are full of trout. Along with the San Juans in Colorado, the Uintas have more contiguous area above timberline than any other area in the Continental United States. This is a beautiful area with many lakes, meadows, wildflowers, and some rugged peaks. Solitude is usually easy to come by.
The Cathedral is one of the more rugged mountains in the Uintas. There are no easy routes to the summit, and I have found only one viable route despite working two summers as a backpacking guide there. When I first climbed this mountain at 16 years old in 1990, there were no signs of pervious ascents on the peak's summit, but it is likely that it was climbed well before that. I mention this to emphasize that this peak sees few ascents and solitude on the peaks is almost always assured.
Utah's 12,000+ Foot Peaks With 200+ Feet Prominence
Utah's 12,000+ Foot Peaks With 300+ Feet Prominence
The Cathedral as seen from the east.
First you must drive Highway 150 south from Evanston Wyoming, or east and then north from Kamas Utah. The North Slope (gravel) road heads east from Highway 150 either just south of the Bear River Lodge, or two miles north of the Bear River Visitor Center. After following the North Slope Road for two miles, turn right and follow the main road all the way (don’t turn right and into the scout camp) to the trailhead. The road is usually a washboard, but any car should be able to make it.
The Cathedral viewed from the east - 10/02/04
After several exploratory trips on the sides of the mountain, we were only to find one viable route to the summit; the Northeast Shoulder
. Briefly put (see the route page for more details): From the trailhead the route follows the East Fork Bear River Trail east. After 4 miles, the route turns left here on the trail posted for Allsop Lake. After aways the route scrambles up the Northwest Shoulder to the summit. The route is not that easy, but is fairly easy to find.
After much searching, most other routes to the summit seem to be blocked by cliffs, and the rock is not good for technical climbing. In July 1998, we made an attempt of the south ridge and reached 11,960 feet, but there were thunderstorms and we had to return. The south ridge may
go if you skirt around to the west and around the butresses, and by making the final approach up some western gullies, but this is unconfirmed.
Update-Jeremy Franchow writes this in his summit log:
In Scott's Routes Overview, he mentioned it may be possible to ascend the peak from some western gullies. Views I'd had from the south made the route look promising. There are two main gullies on the southwest slope of The Cathedral. Ascended the gully that's furthest north until reaching the base of the upper cliffs. Crossed into the gully further to the south for the final ascent. Fully descended the further south gully on my return.
MOCKBA has climbed the North Ridge
from the west side of the mountain.
The East Face Gullies
are probably the finest snow climbing routes in the Uinta Mountains. It is likely possible to traverse to the Northeast Shoulder Route from the northern-most gully, but I haven't tried it.
Early morning sun on The Cathedral, taken during an ascent of Mount Beulah. You can clearly see the NE Shoulder Route.
No permits are required.
When to Climb
Mid July through mid-September is the normal climbing season. This peak would be very challenging in winter, and would be a multi day trip. I know of no winter ascents of the peak, but if you do please, please post any info.
The Cathedral from the NE. July 1990.
There is a very small campground with no facilities at the trailhead. Backcountry campsites are plentiful all along the hike up to the timberline.
The east face of The Cathedral, viewed from the Allsop Lake trail.
Time Needed for Climb
Most people will want to take three days for the climb. Some really fast climbers can climb the peak in two long days.
Contact the ranger station in Kamas for current road and trail conditions. Their phone number is 801-783-4338.
Weather Forecast for Central Uinta Mountains
Here are some average highs and lows from the 12,139 foot elevation (3700 meters) in the Uintas (about the same altitude as the summit):
Credits and Photo Request
Thanks should go to SP member Joseph Bullough
for submitting his beautiful photos.