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.