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