Bivy M.A.D.E. Trips – Bighorn Crags Recap

By Pitt Grewe, Bivy Marketing Director

After driving on a dirt road for over 50 miles, we were excited to get out of the vehicle and start hiking. We knew bad weather was headed our way later in the week, so we didn’t want to waste any time.

After about 2 miles of hauling heavy packs full of climbing gear, we started to walk by beautiful granite monoliths. They call this area The Cathedral Graveyard because the formations look like tombstones in the shadow of Cathedral Peak. We soon found ourselves distracted by the weight of our packs when we started looking for climbable cracks and routes that wouldn’t end on unprotected slabs. We knew we wouldn’t be able to place any bolts or permanent protection since we would be climbing in a designated wilderness area.




We pulled ourselves away from the distractions because we wanted to get to the higher peaks while the weather was prime.  We continued on to Cathedral Peak.  We knew Cathedral peak had been climbed before; it has two different summits and the north summit has a USGS marker from 1923.  However, we had the feeling we would be able to find something new as we gazed the peak’s beautiful lines.



On the southwest side of the south summit we climbed a chimney system to the ridge, then climbed one last pitch along the ridge with an airy step-across move. 5.7, 2 pitches.

After that we scrambled over to the north summit and found the official USGS marker. From there, we were able to see more great views of potential climbing in the area. Rock was everywhere!

The next day we stayed close to camp and tried to focus on the Graveyard. We put up 2 new routes on one of the buttresses.  Both hand crack, one 5.7 and one 5.9. We found the rock to be really sharp and my hands got destroyed. But the stoke remained high.

On the third day, with tired muscles and sore hands, we went further into the Fish Fin Ridge area. We had read there are no official ascents recorded on the Rusty Nail and we had hopes of putting up a new route. Unfortunately, we were not the first on this attempt; we found remnants of another attempt when we spotted a stuck cam halfway up another beautiful crack system.

We made it one pitch from the summit before the wind, dropping temps and lack of desire to climb alpine off width caused us to make the decision to bail.  Feeling defeated, we rappelled back to the base of the tower. We spent the rest of the day at the base of the Rusty Nail staring at potential lines.

The next day we decided to hike out, rather than sit through the storm.  I was hard to leave, but I was reaffirmed knowing this wasn’t a one-time visit. I know I will be exploring to this amazing wilderness year after year.

Find your new favorite place to explore.  Our national forests, designated wilderness and public lands really are our greatest resource and treasure.


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