Ascent of Rams Peak on 2012-09-21

Climber: Steven Thompson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, September 21, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Rams Peak
    Elevation:7120 ft / 2170 m

Ascent Trip Report

Anyone who's hiked The Subway has probably watched in awe the growing west triangle face of Rams Peak in the eastern sky.   A true peak (not a plateau), Rams Peak is a testament to the strength of water and wind in this part of the park.

Kolob Terrace is rugged.  Make no mistake, to venture into the backcountry of Kolob is to test yourself mentally and physically.  I arrived at the Wildcat Trailhead parking lot at 7:30 am.  The sun was behind the mountains, but the parking lot already held a dozen vehicles.  The Subway is one of the most popular slot canyons in Zion and permits are required to enter.  Already a long hike, The Subway, like all slot canyons can change the challenges you face with each rain storm.  It's been a rainy summer in Zion, so I expect everyone wanted an early start.  The parking lot also serves the Hop Valley trail, Northgate Peaks, and Wildcat canyon trail.  An advanced slot canyon, located above The Subway, is known as Das Boot. 

To make an ascent of Rams Peak, I'll need to cross the Left Fork of North Creek, the creek responsible for the deep slot canyons that exist in this section of the park.   What little beta information I could find, the best (and possibly only) place to cross is the Das Boot slot canyon entrance. 

The hike from Wildcat parking lot along the wide plateau is a beautiful alpine hike.  Towering Ponderosa pine trees line the meadows.  As you begin to drop into the neighboring canyon, the trail turns to slickrock scramble.  Plenty of cairns and the occasional footprint sign will keep you on the correct path.  This is a well traveled trail seeing hundreds of visitors each month.  Do Not follow my approach.  I traveled to far on The Subway hike and was forced to backtrack through scrub oak and other forms of thick brush to arrive at the entry.  There is however a faint trail and beautiful views into the Das Boot section. 

Arriving at the entry to Das Boot, I had dropped 1,285' in elevation.  Squeezing through a small chimney crack out of Das Boot, be prepared for a 1,425' foot ascent.  No trail exists, not even a faint one.  The beta I had indicated that an ascent up the deep, tree filled slash on the western face was the best approach.   My study of the TOPO led me to believe that by taking the ridge line wash just to the south would lead to a smaller saddle, and take an approach from the ridge line on the east.  This was a gamble, but I knew the prior group who's beta I was using proceeded along this ridge line to make a summit of Greatheart Mesa on the same day.

Standing on the small western saddle, my heart dropped as I looked at the high valley separating my ridge from the main ridge leading to the mesa.  Around a bend would be the only way to know if an approach from this angle was possible.  I dropped off the eastern side and rounded the bend.  To my delight, a nice wash with big, wide, shelf systems made the scramble to a small saddle possible.  I proceeded to this point.  Dropping my climbing rope, and spare water, I decided the scramble to the summit of Rams Peak was going to be class 2.  I'd pick the rope and water up on my way to Greatheart Mesa if time permitted a possible ascent.  I was already running slow.

Following the chossy ridge line, beautiful views await on both sides.  Looking south the Guardian Angels keep watch over Zion National Park.  What a breathtaking sight.  Continuing up the ridge; views north, contain the plateau which is host to the West Rim Trail. Stunning.  The Hourglass, Greatheart Mesa all beautiful.  Near the summit, more bushwacking and chossy scramble.  Breaking through the last bit of brush, I am greeted by a small outcropping of rock and a summit cairn.  No summit registration exists.  I had remembered to bring a jar, with paper and pencil to mark the event.

Walking west a few feet is a sharp drop off as the peak gives way to the shear drop of the western face.  The views are spectacular.  I took plenty of pictures.

Arriving once again at the saddle, to pick up my gear, I am impressed for the group that made double ascents.  Not going to happen for me.  Climbing back out the western side of Das Boot, I follow the trail as best I can back to The Subway trail.  Again don't follow my path.  I lost the trail and not having a description doubled back off a ridge line and had to backtrack all the way to the slickrock bowl to pick up the trail.  Das Boot trail follows the ridge line all the way to the top of the bowl.  Taking at least an hour off my round-a-bout scramble.

Reaching my car just before dark, I wasn't the only one still here.  One other car held its place.  The driver exploring this rugged wilderness and hopefully enjoying it as much as I have this day.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Steven Thompson
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