Monday, December 19, 2011

Ice climbing: Miller's Thriller, Provo Canyon, UT

Millers Thriller
WI 3-4, 3 pitches

Miller's Triller, located 1/2 mile up canyon from Bridal Veil Falls, is a fun 3-pitch ice climb. It is rated WI 3-4.  We climbed the easier first two pitches, but ice conditions prevented us from climbing the final pitch.

Video:
millersthriller

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ice Climbing at the Apron, Provo Canyon, UT

The Apron, Provo Canyon, UT
WI 3-4, 1 pitch
Top-rope-able

The Apron is an ice route about 60 feet high spread across a cliff ledge a couple hundred yards west of Bridal Veil Falls.  The apron is first pitch of a longer ice route, Stairway to Heaven (7 pitches).  The apron can be top-roped, great for beginners and for safety.
Michael, Eli and I headed up to the Apron a couple times this week to check it out and get a few laps in.  The pitch isn't very long, but it is nearly vertical ice, rating at WI 3-4. Today, we did a fun mixed ice/rock route which follows a narrow slab of ice to the top of the shelf.
Most of the ice was very solid....despite the running water gushing through holes in the ice. We each climbed the Apron a couple times. We rotated from climbing to belaying to taking pics. Each of us got several laps in today and earlier this week. Ice climbing is sweet.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Peaks: East Provo Peak

Date: October 28, 2011
Location: East Provo Peak, Utah County, UT
Personnel: Brent, Eli, and me

View of East Provo Peak from Provo Peak. This is as close at Brent and Eli ever got.



East Provo Peak is directly .5 miles East of Provo Peak and is often overlooked. It is a fun scramble from Provo Peak to East Provo Peak, while the hike up to Provo Peak from Squaw Peak road is a straight forward hike, yet very steep. I cruised up Provo Peak in exactly one hour and waited on my buddies to catch up and when they finally did, they decided to stop at Provo Peak and forgo the scramble over to East Provo Peak.
Self-Portrait from East Provo Peak



So I pressed on alone, while they watched from above. I made it down and up the following ridge to East Provo Peak in 30 minutes and was back to Provo Peak in one hour. I occasionally heard rocks cascading down Provo Peak and intermingled screaming (it was Brent and Eli using their time wisely on Provo Peak). We then all hurried down and back to Provo for game 7 of the World Series! Go Cardinals.


View of the East side of Provo Peak from East Provo Peak. You can barely see Brent and Eli on the horizon.

Car to Car: 4 hours.
Total hiking time: 3 hours
Total Mileage: 3.6 miles
Total Elevation Gained: 2,800 ft.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

National Parks: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is the most visited park in the United States, with over 4 million visitors each year. Two weekends ago, I was one of those 4 million. Apparently only 1% ever venture into the canyon itself...


My friend, George, Marine and Lawyer, is stationed in Yuma, AR so we decided to meet at the Grand Canyon. To save gas and time we decided to meet at the bottom of the canyon instead of either or us driving all the way around to either rim. (The North and South Rim are only 10 miles apart as a bird flies, but 200 miles by car!)

So Luke and I made it down to the North Rim in 6 hours from Provo, UT on a thursday afternoon and arrived after hours at the park. (Hint: if you don't want to pay $20-25 bucks to get into a national park, arrive after 10 pm) Meanwhile, George was arriving at the South Rim with a friend of his.

Friday morning we all took off to meet at the river by 11 am. Luke and I started hiking at 6:30 am with our long johns, beanies and headlamps to make the 14 mile trek to the river and 14 mile trek back to the rim in one day. We took the North Kaibab Trail which winds its way down a tributary canyon all the way to the Colorado River. We jogged in places and walked quickly in others, passing the casual hikers, but we were passed by a couple of trail runners doing the rim to rim trek. We made it to the river by 10 am (14 miles in 3.5 hours). Now we just had to find George and hike back up to the North Rim together.


Unfortunately, not everything went as planned. After 3 hours of confusion, we found eachother, George developed some heinous blisters due to a bad pair of tennis shoes, and the day was ending quickly. 4 miles up the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim, Geore couldn't walk any longer. He had to turn back to the South Rim. After "repairing" his shoes and getting some food, George and his friend hobbled off back to the car on the South Rim.


I felt really bad for George. Blisters are not fun, especially when they cover your entire foot. George survived the night and made it back his car. Luke and I cruised back up to the North Rim in a couple of hours. Luke and I completed our 28 mile day hike in 10 hours.


Things to know about Grand Canyon National Park:
-Best time of year to visit: October
-North Rim is less visited and still offers great views of the canyon.
-Enter the park after 10 pm and you enter for free!
-If you want to camp legally in the park, get a reservation.
-If you are hungry after hiking 28 miles, eat at the North Rim lodge (excellent breakfast buffet)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Climbing: Ice Prep

So ice climbing allows climbers to climb all year around. By using crampons and ice tools, one can scale waterfalls and any frozen water ice. Check out this sweet video to see what ice climbing is all about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjMVSlQilKk

Fortunately, some of the best ice climbing in the country is right here in Utah, right up Provo Canyon. Bridal Veil Falls freezes over every winter and offers secure, vertical water ice.

So in preparation for the coming winter, Michael, Eli and I headed up the canyon to practice our ice climbing technique on some rock faces.

Peaks: Mt. Rainier

Date Climbed: October 1, 2011
Location: Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Start: Paradise (5,500 ft)
Max Elevation: 11,800 ft. (somewhere on Ingraham Glacier)
End: Paradise
Difficulty: strenuous, glacier travel
Personnel: Kirk, Brent, Eli, Von and Luke

Mt. Rainier is the mecca for mountaineers in the lower 48 states. I first laid eyes on Mt. Rainier a year and a half ago while on a west coast road trip. The mountain stands over 14,000 feet above sea level. Just for some persepctive...Mt. Timpanogos in Utah stands at 11,700 something feet and the valley floor is somewhere over 4,000 ft. So less than 7,700 ft difference (a bit more than half the difference of the peak of Rainier and Seattle). If it is clear in the Seattle area, it catches everyone's eyes....and on that day, it definitely caught mine.

The second time I saw it was in June 2011 when I was flying home from Alaska. I actually got a window seat on purpose so I could see the cascades on the way home. I watched the in-flight map anxiously and soon enough there below me sat a giant mountain poking its face out of the clouds. I stared at it intently for about 3 minutes and convinced myself to climb it that summer.

Somehow in late September, some friends and I planned to go to Mt. Rainier for a late season last minute climb. We drove 14 hours and stayed in Seattle at a friends house and started our climb on Friday evening up to Camp Muir. The climb to Muir Camp is a 4,000 ft. hike up steep trail and up the steep Muir Snowfield to "basecamp." There was not a single person in the huts at Camp Muir. RMI, the local climbing guide service, already stopped for the season and probably for good reason. We were climbing in 60 mph winds and cold weather.


The following morning we packed our day packs, roped up and headed out onto the Cowlitz Glacier. We crossed the glacier in near whiteout conditions fairly quickly. We climbed up the adjacent rocky ridge to Cathedral Pass and onto the Ingraham Glacier. The whiteout at this point made route-finding very difficult. Somehow we could not find Ingraham flats despite hours of trying. Frankly, it was an embarrassing attempt to climb Mt. Rainier. We spent the better part of the day criss-crossing Ingraham Glacier and even Emmonns Glacier trying to find a way up onto Disappointment Clever to no avail. At sunset, we had to turn around.


The following morning we made our way down from Camp Muir and to our car. Despite our failed summit attempt, it was good glacier travel experience and now I get to go back again.






For pictures, click on the link:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/100516147611290689034/albums/5659793634603386049

For more information on the route we attempted, check it out here:
http://www.summitpost.org/disappointment-cleaver/155670

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Peaks: North and South Thunder

North and South Thunder are seldomly visited unless you are a peak bagger. They are often overlooked by the more impressive Pheifferhorn to the east and the popular hike to Lone Peak to the west.

Luke and I took the most challenging, yet most direct route from Little Cottonwood Canyon via Coalpit Gulch starting at approximately 6,000 ft. at 8 am. This route offers everything scramblers and peak baggers could hope for. Near the bottom of the gulch, we passed a series of waterfalls by scrambling on the narrow canyon walls. The first 2 waterfalls were fun and slightly challenging, but the 3rd waterfall was downright sketchy. The rocks on either side of the waterfall were slick, steep and exposed but we made it. Our original plan was to descend via another route, Bells Canyon. After that stunt, we stuck to our original plan.

The gulch opens up slowly and becomes more brush-invested. Eventually it opens up into a steep boulder field. We stuck to the main drainage up the boulder field into a cirque at the base of North Thunder at 9,500 ft. At this point, the partially snow covered boulders became hazardous and frankly, a hassle. We stepped through quite often in gaps in between boulders. We made our way up to the saddle and began ascending the northeast ridge to the southwest up to North Peak. The knife-edge ridge offered mixed snow and rock travel, which kept things interesting. We reached the peak around 2 pm and we weren't lolly-gagging!

We followed the ridge south and west over to a ridge triple-junction and eventually up to South Thunder. The ridge line was fairly straightforward except for one impassable section of knife-edge vertical rocks which we bypassed by scrambling below.

From South Thunder we headed quickly down into Bell's Canyon and to a trail. We didn't want to be route finding in the snow and in the dark. The snow was prevalent until past the upper reservoir in Bell's Canyon. We made it down Bell's Canyon in about 2 hours and hitchhiked back to my car parked near the water treatment facility near Coalpit Gulch.


Peaks: North Peak

North Peak is only climbed by those too lazy to go all the way to Nebo or if you are a peak-bagger. I mostly am a peak-bagger so I went in mid-october with a fellow nature-lover. We started hiking around 5 pm and quickly made our way up the trail and eventually into the snow left over from the storm a couple weeks ago. When we reached the ridge we headed up to the south and left the Mt. Nebo Trail. We made it to the top (2.8 miles) in a little over an hour....champs....just in time for sunset.

We husseled down with our headlamps. 2.5 hour trip. One more peak down.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Peaks: Box Elder

Date: September 2, 2011
Location: American Fork Canyon, Box Elder
Start: Granite Flat CG (6,800 ft.)
Max Elevation: 11,101 ft
End: Granite Flat CG
Difficulty: class 1-3
Distance: 8 miles
Personnel: Kirk

Box Elder sits in between two major mountain clusters which are Mt. Timpanogos to the south and the Alpine Ridge to the north. Its summit is one of 25 peaks over 11,000 ft in the Wasatch mountains. The peak can be reached by many routes, I of course chose the shortest yet most challenging route from Granite Flat Campgrounds accessed via American Fork Canyon.

Because this is my last semester of college, my load is light and my research job only allows me to work 10 hours a week. But don't get me wrong, I am not complaining! I chose to get away after class on Friday and solo climb Box Elder via the Box Elder 044 trail.

I started hiking around 11 am with my GPS and plenty of water. The trail rises in elevation quickly through aspen groves, pine forests and small meadows. Eventually the trail reaches a fork and a wooden sign, I continued to follow the Box Elder 044 trail up. After about 2.5 miles and 1 hour, I reached the wide hollow and drainage which leads up to the saddle to the south of Box Elder. From here, I had my first good view of the peak. This is where the route leaves the trail and makes its way to the saddle. The face up to the saddle is not easily navigable due to lack of solid rocks and/or snow. The face was wiped clean and every other step resulted in sliding back down. Eventually I reached the saddle and made my way up the ridge to the summit where I met some other hikers who came up from other routes. The views to the north of the Lone Peak, Thunder Mountain, White Baldy, Red Baldy, Red Top and AF Twin peaks are excellent. The view to the south is, in my opinion. the best of Mt Timpanogos.

The hike down was much easier than the scramble up the steep face. Once back on the trail I made it quickly down to the trailhead. The trip took about 5 hours including lunch break and breathers. This was my first solo trip and it was very enjoyable.

Pictures:
Box Elder

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Peaks: Cottonwood Ridge

Date: August 12, 2011
Location: Salt Lake County, Utah (Twin Peaks Wilderness)
Start: Broads Fork Trailhead (6,070 ft)
Maximum Elevation: 11,330 ft
End: Alta
Difficulty: Class 4 scrambling (took us 14 hours!)
Distance: approx. 14 miles
Personnel: Luke, Billie, Kirk

Peaks:
Broad Fork Twin Peaks - 11,330 ft
Sunrise Peak - 11,275 ft
Dromedary - 11,107
Peak 11,033 - 11,033 ft
Monte Cristo - 11,132 ft
Mount Superior - 11,050 ft

We dropped a car off at Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon, drove down and over to Big Cottonwood Canyon and started hiking at 5:15 am at the Broads Fork Trailhead. The trail was easy to follow for the most part all the way up to the second meadow where a small pond is located amongst beautiful wild flowers. We arrived at the second meadow (2 miles) around sunrise and watched a cow moose swim across the pond! Luckily, she didn't seem to have any calves nearby. The day was starting off nicely.

After another mile up, we had to scramble and navigate the remaining ice/snow in the cirque to get to the saddle between Broads Fork Twin Peaks and Sunrise Peak. My trekking poles came in handy on the slippery, hard slope (an ice axe would have been useful). From the saddle we got a taste of what to expect all day (literally). We scrambled up, down, and across loose rocks, up and over rock walls (some low class 5 material with significant exposure), and up steep, loose couloirs to the summit of Broads Fork Twin Peaks (6.5 miles from the trailhead). From the top we could see the Salt Lake Valley and essentially all of the Wasatch Range, including the rest of our daunting task; the Cottonwood Ridge.

The peaks along the ridge looked steep and impassable, but we continued onward and back down to the saddle. I read a couple trip reports of previous hikes along the ridge and about different routes up and over these steep peaks, yet half the fun was route-finding! Sundial peak offered some challenging route-finding on the southwestern side but we made it up to the peak in 30 minutes from saddle. From there we down-climbed and scrambled down to a deep saddle and up and over to Dromedary Peak.

The ridgeline seemed unending from there. We scrambled up and down and up and down and up and down. The trip was mentally and obviously physically exhausting. It required conscious thought about each step and at least one hand for most of the ridgeline. A mistake could lead to serious injury and on some sections, a fall would be fatal. We scrambled over several unnamed peaks, including the notable Peak 11,033.

Eventually, we reached the base of Monte Cristo, which presented our largest challenge. We were closing in on 10 hours hiking time (3 pm) in the heat of the day and the mountain required some seriously exposed free-climbing. Luke led the way and we followed, despite the 1,000 ft plus drop-off below. After about 20 meters of exposed vertical climbing, we found a couloir on the southwestern side which allowed us to scramble to the peak. We met a BYU professor on the top, the only other hiker we saw all day. He took a few pictures for us and we were on our way to Mount Superior, eager to finish our hike. Mount Superior is only a hop, skip and a jump to the east so we quickly scrambled over and began to make our way down the ridge to the east. Eventually we found a trail which led us down 3 grueling miles to Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon where we parked a car there in the dark of the early morning. By the time we reached the car, it was 7:15 pm - 14 hours exactly of hiking, 6+ 11,000 ft peaks and sore feet. It was a beautiful and very challenging adventure.

*This hike is for expert hikers who have huge amounts of endurance and can handle large amounts of exposure. Do not underestimate this hike. I brought 5 liters of water and I ran out so be prepared.

Pictures:
Cottonwood Ridge

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peaks: The Bullion Divide: 7fer

Date: July 30, 2011
Location: Bullion Divide East to West, Salt Lake County, Utah
Start: Cecret Lake Trailhead - 9400 ft
Max Elevation: 11,489 ft.
End: White Pine Trailhead - 7700 ft
Difficulty: Class 3/Class 4
Personnel: Luke and Kirk


The 7 Peaks from East to West:

1) Sugarloaf Mountain: 11,051 ft
2) Mount Baldy: 11,068 ft
3) "Hidden Peak": 10,992 ft
4) American Fork Twin Peaks: 11,489 ft (Salt Lake County highpoint)
5) "Red Top": 11,380 ft
6) "Red Baldy": 11,171 ft
7) White Baldy: 11,321 ft

In mountaineering it is not uncommon to attempt two or maybe three peaks in one go. This is often dubbed a "twofer" or a "threefer." Yet the Bullion Divide has over 9 prominent peaks and most can be tackled in one long day. The Bullion Divide is the ridge separating Little Cottonwood Canyon and American Fork Canyon. Most often the ridge is hiked from the east starting at Cecret Lake TH in Albion Basin, home to Alta Ski Resort, and ending at the White Pine Trailhead.

We dropped one car off at White Pine Trailhead and made our way up to the Cecret Lake Trailhead where we would be begin at 5:15 am. The trail leads to the lake in about a mile. From the lake, we made our way up to the saddle in between Sugarloaf and Mount Baldy and on to the peak of Sugarloaf. We made it to the top in less than an hour and the sun still had not risen.

We next scrambled back down to the saddle and up to Mount Baldy, where some unnecessary fixed ropes were tied to a tree to assist climbers. From the top of Mt Baldy we hiked down and over "Hidden Peak", past the Snowbird ski resort and up to American Fork Twin Peaks which required our first true scrambling over a knife-edge ridge. The climb up Twin Peaks offered some interesting geology with interlayered slate and quartzite. It was 8:15 am when we reached the top of AF Twin Peaks. 4 peaks, 3 hours. The top of Twin Peaks offered great views in all directions and of the rest of our route.

The remainder of the hike was more challenging and more fun. Red Top, Red Baldy and especially White Baldy were moderately challenging with some hand-over-hand climbing and route-finding. In between Red Baldy and White Baldy is a sharp contact between the reddish quartzite and the whitish granite that gives these mountains their names. The granite is part of a large igneous intrusion which intruded most of western Little Cottonwood canyon and it makes for great climbing!

White Baldy is easily the most challenging of the 7 peaks we climbed and the most fun, with lots of scrambling, free-climbing, and route-finding. From the top we chose to descend into Red Pine drainage to the west rather than White Pine drainage to the east. We reached the car around 2:30 pm. Just over 9 hours total. Great trip.

Just a couple 11,000 ft peaks left in the Wasatch....

Pictures of our trip on the link below:

Bullion Divide

Friday, July 1, 2011

Forgotten Peak and Mt.Timpanogos

Date: June 28, 2011
Location: Mt. Timpanogos via Forgotten Peak
Elevation: 11,749 ft.
Trailhead: 7,169 ft.
Difficulty: Steep snow
Personnel: Billie, Chris, Luke, and Kirk

We started at the Timpooneke Trailhead at 7,169 ft. around 4 am with day packs, snacks & water, layers, compass, headlamps, and some climbing gear which must include an ice axe (this time of year) and could include crampons. We followed the trail through the woods for half a mile and turned off the trail and north towards the snowy north ridge of Forgotten Peak.



We climbed a steep snow-filled couloir with crampons and ice axes until we gained the ridge.  We scrambled up the ridgeline to Forgotten Peak where we had great views of North Timp, Timp and the South Summit.  From here we made our way over towards the summer trail saddle.  This traverse required some significant scrambling and climbing.

We approached the Timp saddle which was capped by some overhanging cornices. The slope up the saddle and cornice was steep and a bit unstable, but it was the only way up. We found a gap in between cornices, which allowed us space to climb up onto the ridge from the steep slope.

We followed the rocky ridge to the main peak of Mt. Timpanogos, snapped some photos, ate some taco-flavored pringles (bad choice), and continued south down the ridge towards the Dry Creek Saddle in between the south and central peaks. From here we glissaded 3,000 vertical feet off the front of Timpanogos in about 20 minutes, which gave us all sore and numb butts. Once the snow ended, we followed Dry Creek 3 miles to the trailhead in Pleasant Grove, where we left a car. A long, adventurous, rewarding climb.

Photos here:
Timp June 28, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Peaks: Gannett Peak ATTEMPT

Date: May 23-27, 2011
Location: Wind Rivers, Wyoming
Elevation: 13,804 ft.
Trailhead elevation: 8,020 ft.
Personnel: Kirk, John, and Dave

Last week I attempted with 2 other climbers to climb and ski Gannett Peak in the Wind River's Wyoming. The peak sits on the continental divide in the northern portion of the range. The peak itself is considered the most difficult state high point climb, only behind Mt. Mckinley, Alaska.

We camped on the road, 3 miles and 1000 vertical feet below the true Elkhart Park trailhead (due to snow), on Sunday night and started skinning up the snow pack on Monday morning hoping to be out and back by Friday around lunch time. We each had large backpacks and shared sleds to pull packed with climbing and camping gear. Thus, the going in deep snow and on side slopes was not as fast as we hoped. We reached Photographers point (8 miles down the trail) at 6 pm in the middle of a late may snow storm.

The following day we trekked on through several small storms, over several mountains and passes, and across several frozen lakes including Barbara, Hobbs, and Seneca Lakes. At 6 pm we reached Island Lake (another 7 miles) and had an up close view of the heart of the wind river range. We refused to pull the sleds and carry our gear another mile, so we made an igloo to sleep in and shelter ourselves from the weather and named it basecamp. The following day we would attempt for the summit, 8 miles away, and 4000 vertical feet above us.

We started hiking at sunrise (too late), and headed up Titcomb Basin, a beautiful, wide, flat glaciated valley, surrounded by shear granite/gneiss walls and jagged peaks. We reached the top of the basin and cirque in about 2 hours. Gannet Peak sits on the other side of the cirque and the only way to get there is via a steep pass called Dinwoody Pass, which would require going 1/2 mile and gaining 2000 vertical feet! It was a daunting task and it took quite some time. Half way up, I slung my skis on my back and booted it up with an ice axe in hand. Eventually we reached the top of the pass around noon.

Gannett sat there, unscathed and untouched by humans all winter. It looked very doable, but in order to climb the peak we would have to ski down 1000 vertical feet, then climb 2000 vertical feet to the summit...then do it all over again to get back to basecamp. We simply did not have the juice to make it and unfortunately we accidently forgot our fuel to melt snow for water.
We didn't reach our goal for several reasons: we essentially only 4.5 days to climb, the road wasn't plowed to the trailhead, we started our summit bid at island lake instead of at the top of Titcomb Basin, and we forgot our fuel on summit day to melt water.

The good news; we got to ski down from Dinwoody Pass! It was icy and wind-blown near the top but the snow got softer as we headed down and it made the entire trip worth it.

Photos here:
https://picasaweb.google.com/SutherlandJohnB/Gannett2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCK-x7cqa8P_4Rg&feat=email

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peaks: Provo Peak

Date: April/16/2011
Location: Provo Peak. Utah County, Utah
Elevation: 11,068 ft.
Trailhead elevation: 5,175 ft.
Personnel: Kirk and Luke

Provo Peak sits directly behind Y mountain yet ironically cannot be seen from Provo. It can however be seen from the rest of Utah Valley, parts of Salt Lake, and Heber Valley. The mountain has a pyramid shape and it is the highest mountain between Timpanogas and Nebo. In the summer, the mountain is accessed from the Squaw Peak road which runs from Provo Canyon through the mountains to Hobble Creek Canyon. In the winter however, access to Provo Peak is limited to Rock Canyon Trailhead just east of the LDS Provo Temple.

We set out at 4 am with crampons, snow shoes and ice axes packed on our backs at 5,175 ft. After only 2 hours of sleep, the hike up initially seemed unbearable. Near the split off of Squaw Peak, a mile up the trail, the path became covered in soft snow. We put on our snow shoes and followed the footprints of other hikers and backcountry skiers until we arrived at Rock Canyon Campground at 5:30 a.m. Just past the campground, the trails disappeared. We turned south and headed up to the west ridge of Provo Peak, which now came into view in the pre-dawn light. The snow was soft and we often sank several inches despite our snowshoes. We reached the ominous ridge at 7:45 am, just under 4 hours from the trailhead.

We followed the ridge straight up the 45+ degree slope. There was an overhanging cornice on almost the entire north side of the ridge line. At this point, our pace decreased significantly and we strapped on our crampons. We scaled the 1.5 mile ridge to the peak in 3 hours. The views were fantastic and the wind was blowing. We quickly snacked on our celebratory pringles, snapped some pictures, and headed down.

We glissaded down much of the ridge and followed our own tracks all the way back to the Rock Canyon Campground. We arrived at the trailhead at 3 pm- an 11 hour trip in total, 7 up, 4 down. Elevation gain of 5,893 ft. Great trip if you are up for an endurance challenge and sun-damaged eyes.


Lesson learned: Bring sunglasses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

King's Peak via Henry's Fork


Location: King's Peak, Uinta Wilderness, Utah
Date: 9/11/2010
Elevation: 13,528 ft

King's Peak, located in the High Uintas, is the highest mountain in Utah. The Uintas are an isolated range in northern Utah that strike E-W and were heavily glaciated in the past ice age. King's Peak is in the heart of the range at the end of Henry's Fork canyon, a wide valley that winds its way north from King's Peak to the edge of the range.

The trip in total is an estimated 32 miles. Most hikers summit and hike out in 3 full days of hiking. We did it in less than a day and a half. We arrived at the trailhead on a Friday night around sunset. We hiked 4 miles in and set up camp in the bitter temperatures. It was a cold night!

The next day we hiked close to 30 miles. We hiked through Henry’s Fork Meadows where we had our first view of King's Peak in the distance. After a long gradual incline through the green meadows, we climbed up to Gunsight Pass, scrambled to Anderson Pass, and climbed the summit ridge to King’s Peak Summit. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky. The views were fantastic and my can of pringles never tasted better. Unfortunately we still had 16 miles to hike back to our car and a 4 hour drive back to Salt Lake. We tried a shortcut from Anderson Pass.

The short cut down from Anderson pass was an unwise decision. It turned out to take longer due to the slow going down the steep slope composed of loose blocks on quartzite. It was a long day before we reached our car by nightfall, but we made it.

Mt. Hood via South Side Old Chute Variation

Location: Mt. Hood, Cascades, Oregon
Date: August 26, 2010
Elevation: 11,249 ft.



Mt. Hood is an isolated stratovolcano about 50 miles east of Portland and is state high point of Oregon. The mountain is very popular due to it's proximity to Portland and the general ease of the standard route. Luke and I are novice climbers, looking to gain more experience on bigger mountains. Mt. Hood seemed like a great place to test our fitness and practice our skills using crampons and ice axes.

After eating a delicious salmon dinner at a friend's house in Portland, we camped in the forest beneath the Timberline Lodge. We started our climb at 6:30 am. The climb can be split into 2 parts: 1) the approach and 2) the climb.

The approach:
The approach follows a well-marked trail over glacial morains, volcanic scree and patches of lingering snow. We ended up hiking up part of the ski resort in route towards Crater Rock, a prominent and isolated block of rock in the cirque of Mt. Hood. The Coleman glacier originates in the cirque and makes its' way down the southeastern slopes of Mt. Hood.

The climb via Old Chute:
We skirted the edge of the Coleman glacier and walked around Crater Rock. At this point, the pearly gates route continues straight up the face through narrow bands of rocks. The South Side Old Chute variation route is a safer variation in late season and traverses to the northwest and climbs the snow chute to the summit ridge.
 
We climbed the old chute with a French dirtbag climber. Temperatures dropped and winds escalated, but we moved forward up the steep cute. As we climbed, the process of kicking steps and plunging our ice axe became second nature. The French dude struck the fear of God in us, when he realized neither of us had gloves on. "You don't have gloves, you're going to die up here!" he shouted over the noisy winds. We continued onward, despite his dramatic exploit. Near the top, a giant rock was dislodged in the heat of the sun and tumbled down the chute. Somehow it miraculously missed me and spared my life. We reached the summit ridge and eventually the summit. It was a great feeling to climb a big mountain and use our technical skills. However, I realized that we had a lot to learn.

We downclimbed the chute and glissaded much of the way back to the trailhead. We reached the car 6 hours later. A quick, yet challenging climb.
Looking to the northwest from the flanks of Mt. Hood
Luke climbing the old chute
Me on the summit of Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood enveloped in afternoon clouds following our climb

Peaks: The Middle Teton


Location: Middle Teton, Teton National Forest, Wyoming
Date: Aug/12/2010
Elevation: 12,804 ft

The Middle Teton is a great non-technical climb with a huge elevation gain, great views, and some fun glissades. The Middle Teton is directly south of the Grand and from the summit, the Grand is breath-taking. If you don't have a desire to climb the Grand, you will after you see the view from the Middle Teton.

We began the hike at the Garnet Canyon trailhead at 5 am. We made our way up with our headlamps to the hanging valley and the beginning of Garnet Canyon. The sun began to rise and the Middle Teton came into view up the canyon. The Middle Teton has a huge black igneous dike running straight up its face. We hiked up to the meadow and took the south fork up, up, up to the pass. We crossed a couple steep snow fields where an ice axe is recommended. We then took the southwest couloir up to the peak. The peak offers views of of many of the teton peaks, jackson hole, the wind river range to the east, and the snake river plain to the west. I popped a can of pringles, snapped some pictures and we headed down. We were back to the trailhead around 4 pm. I looked back up to the Grand Teton, determined to climb it next summer.

Peaks: Mt. Nebo

Location: Mt. Nebo, Utah County, UT
Date: July/2010
Elevation: 11,928 ft.

Mt. Nebo is the tallest mountain in the Wastach range and in Utah County. The mountain has two major peaks, the northern peak being the highest. The traditional route begins near the Mount Nebo Scenic Byway and heads west towards the ridge and then follows the ridge straight up to the peak. It is a steep, yet enjoyable 8-mile round trip. Yet as is usual, we didn't take the easier, traditional route.

We took a smaller trail and traversed the entire eastern side of the mountain from north to south. Then we hit the trail to the south peak and climbed up to the summit ridge. We followed the summit ridge up to the south peak (11,877 ft.) and scrambled along the knife-edge ridge to the north peak (11,928 ft.) We snacked on some pringles as is our custom on peaks and headed down the traditional route towards the car. 12.1 miles in total. 2 11,000 ft. peaks down.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Peaks: Lone Peak

Location: Lone Peak, Salt Lake County, UT
Date: July/23/2010
Elevation: 11,253 ft

Lone Peak is the furthest west peak on the southern ridge of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The mountain and the surrounding area is all made of granite. The area was intruded by this granitic igneous body approximately 26 million years ago (Ma). The peak itself is a shear wall of granite 300 ft high. The cirque below the peak is often a camping spot for climbers.

There are two main routes up Lone Peak: 1) via Draper ridge (easier, faster) 2) via Bells Canyon. This entry is unique to most other Lone Peak trip reports because we took the longer and more rewarding Bells Canyon route.

Bells Canyon begins just south of Little Cottonwood canyon and winds its way east and eventually south around to the east side of the peak. Bells Canyon has steep walls on either side as it winds up through the thick forest alongside a prominent stream. The hike required a lot of energy but it was well worth our efforts. The peak offered views of Red and White Baldy, Pfeifferhorn, Box Elder Peak, Timpanogas, Mt. Olympus and others to the north.

We attempted a short cut off the east face down a steep couloir on our way down. We eventually made it off the face onto a steep ice field and into Bells Canyon. It still took us several hours to hike out. Long route=long day. My friend threw up. Stay hydrated.

Peaks: The Pfeifferhorn

Location: Pfeifferhorn, Salt Lake County, UT
Date: July/12-13/2010
Elevation: 11,326 ft.

Pfeifferhorn is part of the south ridge of Little Cottonwood canyon. We took the White Pine Trailhead up to the Red Pine Lakes. The hike is the prettiest I have experienced in the Wasatch. We did not see a single hiker the entire day and the vistas were spectacular. We camped at the upper Red Pine Lake before our early departure for the peak in the morning. After the lakes the trail disappears and the hiking becomes a scramble. It took us an hour and half to scramble to the ridge and traverse the ridge to the peak. From the peak it took another 3 to get back down to the trailhead. The strenuous hike is over 9 miles roundtrip, 3731 ft elevation gain, and should take 5-6 hours total. A must do.

Peaks: Mt. Timpanogos

Location: Mt. Timpanogas, Utah County, Utah
Date: Aug/8/2009
Elevation: 11,729 ft.

Timpanogas is the most popular peak to summit on the Wasatch Front and for good reason. I have done it 4 times and plan on doing a winter traverse this coming Saturday. The traditional trail quickly rises from Aspen Grove at 6,910 ft to 10,380 feet where you reach emerald lake, which sits above the tree line and below the remains of an alpine glacier. From there you traverse a boulder field, scramble up to the pass, and follow the ridge south to the peak. It's a 14-mile round trip and usually requires 7 to 8 hours to complete the trip.

I climbed it in August 2009 on the coldest day of the summer. By the time I reached the pass and started climbing the ridge close to noon, visibility was close to 15 feet, wind speeds were up to 40 mph and temperatures dropped to near freezing. I learned my lesson; weather above 10,000 no matter what season is unpredictable. I made it up and down fine, but not without a few shivers.

During the summer months, the trail can get quite crowded. I recommend hiking in late summer/early fall to avoid the crowds. This also improves your chances of seeing mountain goats, elk and other wildlife.

Longs Peak via Keyhole

Location: Long's Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Date: July 2001
Elevation: 14,259 ft.

Longs Peak was the greatest adventure I had ever experienced by the age of 15. I had backpacked over 200 miles in the southern Appalachians by that age, but this was a much different experience. Hiking in the Rockies provides endless vistas and much more wildlife than the appalachians. Soaring glaciated peaks, huge boulder fields, swift, relentless snow melt streams, ice fields, crystal clear, cold alpine lakes, cirques, elk, bear, and deer around every corner initiated my fascination with American west wilderness areas.

Our group of eight 15, 16 and 17-year-olds and 2 adult leaders made a 50-mile loop through the National Park and finished our trip by climbing Longs Peak. My group took the keyhole route and we all successfully summited on a perfect summer day. This was the most thrilling experience of my life and helped initiate my love for alpine adventures.