Two incredibly complex peaks involving much routefinding and scrambling
The Towers of The Virgin are highly technical endeavors and have only been climbed by a handful of people. They are however admired by many.
Dwight and Dominic on the familiar scramble up the weakness leading to the Johnson Mountain ridge. After some trial and error on previous trips we've got this part nailed down.
Dominic, Matthew and Dwight hiking along the north ridge of Johnson Mountain. We're heading directly away from our objective at the moment, but such is peakbagging in Zion National Park.
Dwight and Matthew on the steep upper east face of Johnson Mountain. This is where the maze really becomes difficult.
The Watchman as seen from the steep upper east face of Johnson Mountain.
Dominic scrambling up a steep step. "No Mans Mountain" can be seen in the background.
Matthew making his way up steep, dirty, third class terrain.
There are some neat alcoves below the summit of Johnson Mountain.
Dwight, Dominic and Matthew nearing the summit plateau of Johnson Mountain as The Watchman watches.
Dwight below the true summit of Johnson Mountain.
Matthew topping out on Johnson Mountain. The prominant peak in the background is Smithsonian Butte. Dominic, Dwight and I ended up climbing it the following day.
The Watchman as seen from the summit of Johnson Mountain. From here its easy to see why the routefinding can be so tricky on this complicated mass of steep slickrock.
View northwest from the summit of Johnson Mountain. Mount Kinesava, The West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin tower above the town of Springdale.
The area just below the summit of Johnson Mountain is a very special place. A hanging garden of sorts, it is surrounded by steep drops on nearly all sides. Two interesting sub-summits add to the scene.
"No Mans Mountain" is reportedly an awesome scramble and climb with plenty of tricky routefinding. It lies to the east of Johnson Mountain.
Matthew working his way down crumbly ledges high on Johnson Mountain.
Matthew had never been up The Watchman and Dwight, Dominic and I were keen on repeating it so we decided to go for it as long as the weather held. Here Dwight and Matthew are creeping up the easy but exposed ramp that takes us out of the wash between The Watchman and Johnson Mountain.
Johnson Mountain as seen early on in our climb of The Watchman.
Dominic belays Matthew as he climbs the low 5th class crux low on The Watchman.
Looking back at Matthew, Dwight and Dominic as I lead the traverse across gullies on the west face of Johnson Mountain.
Once above the steep gully system on the west face the terrain becomes generally easier: easier scrambling and easier routefinding.
Matthew, Dominic and Dwight on the summit of The Watchman. This ascent took hours less than our first one because we knew the way this time! Unfortunately the weather was looking threatening again and we had to cut our summit stay short.
Dominic beginning the descent from The Watchman. Johnson Mountain can be seen in the background.
Matthew, Dwight and Dominic descending the final ramp to get back into the wash between Johnson Mountain and The Watchman.
Looking north toward Zion Canyon from the wash between Johnson Mountain and The Watchman we saw a beautiful rainbow.
The combination of ominous, dark clouds and bright sunshine made for some very interesting lighting along Zion Canyon on the descent.