Utah: Some "Unknown Classics"

Utah: Some "Unknown Classics"

Utah, United States, North America
Page Type Page Type: List
Sign the Climber's Log

Some of the Lesser Known Classics

Most of the time, the "Classics" are classics only because they are well known and easy to get to. For every classic peak or route, there is one just as good, that sees far fewer visitors. Some of the "less known classics" will be pointed out on this list.

Note that I sometimes mention summit registers with some figures. This is only meant to point out that the peaks are seldom visited. It is not meant to be a count of how many people have ever climbed a peak. Some climbers don't sign registers.

Also know that this list is by no means meant to be comprehensive. There are hundreds of such peaks. I only intend to list a few for you to enjoy.
Eastern extent of the main...Eastern extent of the main summit of Split Mounain

Uinta Mountains

Reids Peak

Reids Peak is an interesting, but very accessible peak and a short climb. The popularity of ascents is probably increasing. Last time I climbed it, in the early 1990's, the summit register had 2-3 entries per year.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral is one of my favorite peaks in the Rockies. This is a spectacular, but seldom climbed peak. Last year I received a message from SP member Joseph Bullough. It read: Just as you mentioned, there was no sign of previous climbers anywhere; no cairns, footprints, summit register, or summit cairn. My ascent was 15 years previous.

Mount Beulah

Mount Beulah is a rugged and beautiful mountain, but it sees few relatively few ascents, though surely it is climbed much more than Cathedral. There was no register in the early 1990’s when I made my ascents, but there has been in recent years. It seems less than one person per year signs the register. Joseph made his climb in October 2004. The last signature was from July 2003.

Priord Peak

Priord Peak is a beautiful peak in a wilderness setting. In 1991, on my second ascent of the peak, I placed a summit register (removed in 2006). Last year I received a message from someone whom I recommended the peak to, and whom climbed it. The message read: “Not only was your summit register still there, but yours was still the only signature after 14 years, and with a perfect pencil”.

Explorer Peak

Explorer is a nice peak, seldom climbed, and is surrounded by some nice lakes and long alpine meadows. The northeast face is impressive. Other sides of the peak are steep, but not as rugged as say, the peaks surrounding Allsop Lake.

Henrys Fork Peak

This peak was seldom visited until climbing the Utah 13’ers became trendy. I wondered if it belongs on this list, and I may remove it. It isn’t ascended near as much as Kings Peak or even Gilbert Peak, but expect an increase in numbers as the popularity of the 13’ers begins to increase. Right now, at least, you can usually expect solitude, though the normal approach route can have crowds.

Split Mountain

Despite being a rather locally famous landmark, the summit is very seldom visited. There are no trails up the mountain. Several scenic canyons cut through the south slopes of the mountain, which are made of a massive sandstone formation. There are several archeological sites on slopes of the mountain as well.

South Split Mountain

South Split Mountian is even more spectacular than it's higher neighbor to the north, South Split Mountain is more difficult to reach. It is entirely possible(?) that the true summit hasn't been reached yet. I have traveled the world across six continents, and I would rate the view from the eastern summit of South Split Mountain as one of the best in the world.

Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain is a tradgedy of sorts. I hesitate to add it for one reason. When viewed from the south, Blue Mountain is one of the more interesting and spectacular mountains in the state, and quite possibly in the lower 48 states. The north or east sides of the mountain are not as impressive and is more gentle. Unfortunately, since the other side of the mountain is more gentle, there is a road and several radio towers on top which somewhat spoils this spectacular mountain. Luckily the south face is wild and has challenging routes and is almost never climbed.

More on the way…………………………

Priord Peak (foreground,...Prior Peak from Yard Peak

West Desert

Tatow Knob

Tatow Knob is a spectacular peak in the House Range. It 1997, it was reported as unclimbed at the time, but this does seem somewhat doubtful. When we were there in 1997 (just before a book mentioning the peak came out), the peak appeared to be no more than 5.6-5.9, but I have to admit that I hesitate to make a guess because we didn’t have rock gear and didn’t make an attempt. In any case, Tatow Knob is a very spectacular Peak.

Desert Mountain

Desert Mountain. Wow. How come no one goes out there? This is one spectacular mountain, much of which is made of high quality granite. If this mountain were closer to a city, it would be considered to be a major attraction. Has the appearance of Joshua Tree, but no people.

Crystal Peak

Crystal Peak is a mountain made of white volcanic rock embedded with quartz crystals. It has the appearance of a snow peak out in the middle of the desert. It used to be very unknown until a guidebook came out mentioning the peak a few years ago. Slowly, but surely, visitor use is increasing.

Fossil Mountain

This is a mountain made completely of huge fossils. It is very interesting, and located just north of Crystal Peak.

Granite Peak, Mineral Mountains

This is probably one of the best climbing areas in the state, but few know about it, yet. This is a huge area of high quality granite with complete solitude.
A close up view of Crystal...Crystal Peak

More are on the way.......

Colorado Plateau-Sub Alpine and Alpine

Mount Hillers

Mount Hillers is a very spectacular mountain and a challenging climb in the Henry Mountains. The south face is especially rugged and scenic. A strange mix of sandstone fins and granite.

Mount Elsworth

Mount Elsworth, in the southern Henrys, is a blast to climb, and all routes are at least class 3 and 4 in difficulty. There are no trails for miles and miles around. Unfortunately, in recent years, a helicopter service radio tower was placed on the summit. For shame. It’s still a good climb.

Mount Holmes

Mike Kelsey apparently climbed this peak rope-less, but I have yet to find a ropeless route. This mountain, also in the southern Henrys is a very rugged, challenging, and spectacular granite mountain. Routes are complicated and difficult at best. This is perhaps one of the most spectacular “semi-alpine” climbs in the state.

More are on the way........

Colorado Plateau-Desert

Keg Springs Butte

Keg Springs Butte is a fantastic summit. On our recent ascent we found a “summit register”. There was just one signature. It was from 1910. So, where is Keg Springs Butte? Ha! You wish I will tell you. I will, but only to a select few who actually do a trip with me. If you are belaying me up a cliff, I may be inclined to tell.

Elephant Butte

Elephant Butte is the highest point in Arches National Park. Don’t expect isolated wilderness on Elephant Butte, but this peak/butte isn’t climbed very often. It is too close to the road to be a true wilderness experience (it can be done in half a day), but I’ll include it on this list anyway since it’s a good way to leave the crowds in an otherwise crowded park. I may actually remove this from the list, but it is here for now.

The peak is a fantastic ascent with one of the best views anywhere in the world. The easiest route is mostly a class 3 and 4 scramble, but with a few 5th class pitches (5.4) thrown in for added excitement. The easiest route to the summit will take you through a maze of fins and canyons, and is a nice adventure.
On the bench just below the...Elephant Butte

More are on the way.........

Slot/Technical Canyons

Clearwater Canyon

Clearwater Canyon is a rugged side canyon of Cataract Canyon. Cataract Canyon is well known to white water rafting enthusiast, but receives almost zero climbing and hiking use. Cataract Canyon itself is very rugged and there are few routes in and out of the gorge. What few routes there are at least 4th class in difficulty and usually take several days. If there is a more rugged area anywhere in the Lower 48 States, I have yet to see it. We spent one 5 day trip traversing the benches and side canyons of Cataract Canyon, and all days were long and strenuous. We ended up covering only 11 miles in those five days. Solitude is assured as only two groups (as of May 2003) have ever been known to descend the canyon.

Gem Canyon-West Fork

This canyons is in the least touched and most isolated part of the San Rafael and is in one of the least explored regions of the United States. It is certainly the essence of the wild and unexplored. The first recorded descent of this canyon did not occur until March 2003. Only a handful of people have seen this spectacular and magnificent canyon.

Gem Canyon-Middle Fork

Just like the West Fork, this canyon is in the least touched and most isolated part of the San Rafael. The first recorded descent of this canyon did not occur until March 2004. Only a handful of people have seen this spectacular and magnificent canyon.

Cable Canyon

Cable Canyon is an absolute blast. Challenging, but not too difficult. The technical canyon section was an unknown place, but expect an increase in traffic, since invited a famous guidebook author to come with us! Most of the time, it should offer complete solitude. If traffic does increase much, it will be removed from this list.

Stone Donkey Canyon

Stone Donkey, a side canyon of Hackberry is short, but an isolated slot, and thus remains a favorite. One section is dark enough to warrant a headlamp. We first went through the slot in 1999, and few have been through since.

Crystal Springs Canyon

Crystal Springs Canyon is nice technical canyon and seldom explored. The main fork is not difficult, but the side forks are, and some are really X-rated for danger. The main fork features high streaked walls and some tight slots.
Negotiating the pothole...Cable Canyon

More are on the way..........

Non-Technical Canyons

Bowdie Canyon

The upper end is a bushwhack and not so great, but the lower end is incredible, from the confluence of the two forks to the Colorado River. Waterfalls, pools, ruins, and great scenery make this place special.

Gypsum Canyon

This is probably the best canyon in the entire Four-corners region to see waterfalls. Gypsum Canyon is exceedingly beautiful, and one of the best hikes around. There are many ruins as well.

Youngs Canyon

Youngs Canyon is a paradise in the desert, with many pools and waterfalls, as well as spectacular scenery. The lower end is especially beautiful.

Miscellaneous Climbing Areas and Places to Explore

More are on the way...........



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.