WINTER MOUNTAINEERING IN THE WASATCH -CASHE NATIONAL FOREST

March 15, 2016


Adam Haydock Breaking trail in almost 4ft of snow at Grandeur Peak 8299ft. , Utah
Over the course of around three months in the winter of 2015 and early 2016, I have been learning the art of mountaineering in the Wasatch National Forest which has been a great experience.  Every aspect of mountaineering is important but I find that avalanche awareness has been one of the most important pieces of awareness to understand when venturing into the backcountry.
Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Having a shovel, beacon, and pole are essential to your kit and can help in a rescue for another member of your team if you find ourselves stuck in a avalanche situation. Growing up in the low lands, it was good to get acclimatized to 6000ft. and 8000ft. for the vascular purposes and the overall bearing on the environment around me.
Desolation ridge trail in a Blizzard, Wasatch National Forest.
I have been Ice climbing now for a few years and also have been traditionally climbing more now than before so those fundamentals play another key element in good summit traverse along with navigation, nutrition, crevasse rescue, weather prediction, and many other aspects.
Grandeur Peak in a heavy Blizzard, Wasatch National Forest, Utah
The Wasatch Range is part of the Rocky Mountains. The Wasatch Range rises to elevations of more than 11,000 feet and stretches for over 200 miles from Soda Springs, Idaho to Nephi, Utah.
Mt. Aire Wasatch National Forest, Utah
It starts with the Bear River Range in southeastern Idaho and northern Utah, then the Wellsville Mountains near the city of Mendon and Sardine Canyon, the Northern Wasatch above the cities of Ogden and Bountiful, the Central Wasatch above Salt Lake Valley, and Southern Wasatch, which has the highest mountains, from Provo to Nephi.
Gobblers Knob
The Wasatch Range is an imposing and important geographic feature in the western United States. From a geologic perspective, the mountains are a complex mix of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks
Lone Peak Wasatch national forest.
The Wasatch is a surprisingly nice mountain range that is broken down into segments located around the salt lake city area.  Among those segments, you can find an excellent array of ice and traditional rock climbing routes, hot springs, backcountry backpacking and sking, and even some cave systems.
Mt. Raymond Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Millcreek, Little Cottonwood, and Big Cottonwood canyons are located in the Salt Lake City region and provide access to a large amount of these activities stated above with trails that lead to ridge walks and summits.
Monte Cristo Wasatch National Forest, Utah
There are also some alpine lakes including secret lake, red pine, and white pine lakes that provide a interesting destination for the summertime but on my particular stay in the Wasatch, I was focusing on mountain traversing , weather reading, avalanche awareness, and general mountaineering as it relates to achieving a summit in the winter months of a blistery Utah tundra.  
Monte Cristo, Wasatch National Forest, Utah
I started with some of the "easier" winter routes which happen to be in the middle of blizzard conditions and temps in the teens, which was a good thing as I wanted to be introduced to the elements a bit and see how drastic they can change with time of day and altitude.
monte cristo Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Granduer Peak was my first summit in a blizzard condition.  The trail rises around 2000ft and the summit is at 8299ft. From what I understand, this is a fairly easy hike as people can just walk up to the top and great a excellent view of Salt Lake City but in December I was breaking trail from about 1000ft from the trailhead all the way to the top of Grandeur peak. It took me 5 hours round trip to thrash through 3 to 4ft of snow and huff my way up tot the top as my lungs were breaking into new ground while the misery of altitude sickness and less oxygen slowly worked its way out of my system.
Mt. Aire Wasatch National Forest, Utah
It was not easy for me to work through all of that and when I got to the top, I was not able to see anything.  It was just a white out. I came back down and ate the biggest portion of food I could find.
Twin peak, o sullivan, $ Dromedary peak Wasatch National Forest, Utah
The Desolation ridge trail, Mt Aire, and Mt. Olympus were the next summits I cracked as I worked my way higher in elevation. I could tell that my body and vascular system were adjusting to the altitude and the exertion which was really good to see and realize.   Mt. Olympus had a small section of rock scrambling that I donned my crampons for but the desolation ridge trail and Mt. Aire were just marches up the mountain to the top while negotiating some minor avalanche risk.
Guardsman Pass/Clayton peak in a 60-80 mph lightening ice storm, Wasatch National Forest, Utah
After the millcreek peaks were bagged, I made my way over to big cottonwood in the attempt to summit Gobblers knob, mt. Raymond, Guardsman pass, Twin peaks, Dromedary Peak, and a few other peaks that can be reached from the Mill D trailheads.
Avalanche destruction near Gobblers Knob, Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Mt. Raymond was a success but the weather was gloomy so I was not able to get the best pictures from reaching that peak and there were some shady traverses that I had to make over some wet sides but the conditions looked fair to make it across them. 
Doughnut falls (mini stevie)Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Doughnut falls was a nice little hike to a small cavern grotto like feature with a waterfall pouring into the entrance which reminded me a bit of Stephens Gap back in Alabama but on a smaller scale that I have named "baby Stevie".
lone peak, Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Gobblers Knob was a different story.  We just got dumped on with another few feet of snow and the persistent, wind, deep, and even wet slabs were ready to go. a few days before I made the attempt to summit Gobblers Knob, a experienced backcountry skier was killed along with another one injured in a avalanche on Gobblers Knob.
lone peak Wasatch National Forest, Utah
A few weeks before, there was another backcountry skier that was killed in a avalanche which comes to show that anything can happen to anyone if you are not careful.  I was able to get accustomed to testing the snow with poles and a shovel which was able to help me considerably on Gobblers knob, Lone and Twin Peaks. I was able to re route myself to avoid avalanche risk that I would have otherwise been taking if I didn't test the snow.
Mt Superior Wasatch National Forest, Utah
I turned my approach on Gobblers Knob due to all of the risk in just about every direction in the attempt to summit Gobblers knob.
Wasatch National Forest, Utah
I continued on and Summited Lone Peak, Twin Peaks, and Dromedary peak which were challenging as I kept re routing myself around the avalanche risks and mixed in a bit of class 3 and 4 scrambling with a little 5 nothing in small sections.
Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Lone peaks summit was a beautiful site to see as the whole Salt Lake Valley below came into picture along with the mountains to the west.
Twin Peaks, Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Avalanche risk kept changing as the day went on and a large snow covered boulder field had to be traversed to avoid the afternoon wet slides where the sun cups and sun wheels were rolling down the slope.
mt superior Wasatch National Forest, Utah
Dromedary was a nice hike yet I took the ridge route on the approach and ran into some more climbing than I thought I would find and once I made it to the final ascent, the thawing rhine and loose rock made the class 3 climb interesting.
Dromedary peak 11,107ft. Wasatch National Forest, Utah
So far everything was pretty straightforward and easy as long as you were able to select the right route and mitigate your avalanche risk.  
mt superior Wasatch National forest, Utah
Mt. Superior, Monte Cristo, Guardsman Pass, were the next batch of peaks and I really enjoyed the ridge traverse to Mt. Superior and Monte Cristo but I wish I brought my snow shoes on the ridge traverse because I would sink into the snow from time to time on the ridge where it would saddle which made the traverse slow going.
mt. Timpanagos Wasatch National forest, Utah
Beautiful yet dangerous Cornices were present so that made the traverse from Mt Superior to Monte Cristo interesting yet it was a great experience to hook those two summits in at once.
lone peak, Wasatch National forest, Utah
Guardsman Pass Clayton peak was basically a casual walk up to 10,700ft. but the conditions got to a point where a ice storm blew in with sustaining 60 mph winds gusting up to at least 70mph on the top of the mountain. 
Dromedary Peak, Wasatch National forest, Utah
The ice particles were flying in the air along with rocks which made the viz close to zero.  Once I got down to the tree line I heard thunder so I had to ditch my gear for a while until the thunder passed by and the storm calmed down to a blizzard.
Dromedary peak 11,107ft. Wasatch National forest, Utah
That was a wicked experience and a good one to see how quickly conditions can change with a just a short amount of time in the mountains.
Twin peaks 11,329ft., Wasatch National forest, Utah 
 Phifferhorn ridge was another 11,326ft. peak I was able to bag which turned out to be easier than I expected.
Mt. Timpanagos
The trailhead starts at white pine but you want to make your way around to the red pine trail and up to red pine lake.  This was a bit longer than I expected but it was a nice hike up the mountain and the conditions were actually pretty warm.
Mt. Timpanogos
I made it to the lake and met another hiker by the name of Shawn on the trail.  He was rocking his way toward Phifferhorn as well so we hiked up to the various table top plains to the final portion of the hike which was around 45-50 degrees to the ridge that led to the false summit.
Mt. Olympus 9,026ft.
We worked our way up to the top and traversed around to the small class five climb that took us to the bottom of the horn.
Mt. Olympus 9,026ft.
 Shawn stayed back as I picked my way up to the top.  The slope on this pitch but have been at least 50-55 degree and a bit more in other places but the views at the top were fantastic.
 
Lookout Peak 8,669ft.
Another great snow hike was the Timpanogos Everest Ridge hike which took me up to around 11,620ft. with a few 5th class climbs and a 5.8 near the top that is traversable if you go to the right and up around the pitch.
Dromedary Peak
The views were spectacular and it was quick the Nordic workout to hike up to the top.
Dromedary Peak
I didn't get a chance to hike all around the summit because time was running out from a earlier incident where a hiker appeared to have broken his ankle and could not walk.  It was cold out in the valley the inversion was in effect and their was a high pressure so I made a sling for his ankle and helped him and his partner carry him in a rope stretcher back to the trail head so they can get that taken care of.
Dromedary Peak
I am glad I was able to assist them and save them from a wagon ride to the hospital. I am also glad I got to the point where I was on the mountain and was able to capture the Everest ridge a bit before turning around.
Phifferhorn 11,325ft
O'sullivan peak was a great climb as are a lot of the ridge lines that I had to traverse to get to these peaks. There was a mix of 5th class climbing that included a couple 5.6-5.7 routes that were staggered throughout the route that I took to reach the peak of O:Sullivan and others like Phifferhorn, Red Top, White Baldy, Superior and Monto Cristo.
Phifferhorn 11,325ft
Some of my favorite peaks were the peaks surrounding twin peaks including twin peaks, lone peak, Phifferhorn, and red top was a nice one.  IMO, they are all nice and offer a different perspective on challenge and view points of the Wasatch front.
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620
The Timp Everest Ridge was a nice grand view of the salt lake basin and there was not inversion, which might have been interesting in itself as a layer of cloud cover would have been below giving the impression of a really high feeling of elevation.
Phifferhorn 11,325ft
Hiking in snowshoes help with some respect towards walking in powder but it took away more energy than I anticipated t would as they were heavy and every lift of the foot brought the snowshoes in the air with snow which was quite the workout. 
Phifferhorn 11,325ft
It was a good workout as I was able to get my endurance back up and get my vascular stamina at high elevations to a good place.
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620
On my way up Red Baldy peak, a couple who might have been in the 60s were cross country sking and they passed me up along with a few other groups that were behind me. I found that quite awesome as I always do as it not only show that all ages can do what they set out to do and achieve success but these snowshoes are slowing me down a bit.
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620
At the top of red baldy I could see Phifferhorn and the Timp with clouds moving in and the wind picking up speed as the daylight started to dwindle. It was a different weather pattern at the top as it usually is but I love the environment.

Red Pine lake
Unfortunately I was not able to get to Mt. Baldy, Sugarloaf Peak, and Hidden Peak because the ski resorts have them blocked off in the winter and I was not able to go around the restrictions they had so I have to wait until spring time in order to get to those peaks.
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620
Red Top is right near red baldy and I took a separate day to reach the top of the peak and traverse over to Twin Peaks (American Fork). 
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620
There are two twin peaks, one is reached by starting at the broads fork trailhead and the other can be reached by the white pine trail, summiting red top and traversing over to Twin peaks American fork which is on the side of the American Fork.
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620
Red top and Red Baldy appeared to be a struggle for me to reach the top, I am not sure why but they were death marches for me.   I found the timp Everest ridge to be a bit easier of a hike but I wonder if I was hydrated, nourished, and rested like I should have been.   
Red Baldy 11,171ft.
 Regardless, I made it up and it was a winding howling blizzard at the top of red top and a place I love to find myself. I am a bit weird like that, I like the snow blowing dunes and the cold crisp air of the mountain top.
Red Top Peak 11,378ft.
There is a tram that can take people up to the top of the bullion traverse trail but the staff does not allow people to wonder off the premises due to the avalanche concern so people will have to go from the bottom of white pine up to the traverse if you are looking to visit any of these peaks.  
Twin Peaks (American Fork) 11,489ft.
I am glad I was able to get to visit all of these peaks as it has given me a new found respect for the mountains and the avalanche concerns that people should have a lot of respect for.
Red Baldy 11,171ft.
It is wise to carry a beacon poles and shovel when travelling in the backcountry.  I found that testing the snow often has been really helpful in negotiating a route to the summits as well as following slopes less that 30 degrees when possible, and traversing the ridge lines to the peaks with crampons, rope, slings, and ice axe.
Red Baldy 11,171ft.
Snowshoeing was more difficult than skiing as it took more time to get up and down from the peaks but there appeared to be a small increase in the margin of safety when it came to traversing avalanche prone areas.
Red Top Peak 11,378ft.
I typically brought the least possible including a light weight summit pack, crampons, ice axe, slings, some rope, carabiners, food, and a jet boil with denatured alcohol to boil snow for more water.
Twin Peaks (American Fork) 11,489ft.
I typically wore a soft shell pair of pants,  a light weight soft shell jacket and an arcteryx fortrez hoody under that.  I also brought a synthetic Arcteryx Atom LT jacket for extra warmth
Twin Peaks (American Fork) 11,489ft.
I found this setup to be quite workable and never really needed anything more clothing. I also wore a stocking hat and a pair of 5 finger winter gloves. I also used a pair of trekking poles at times.
Twin Peaks (American Fork) 11,489ft.
Even though I was not able to get all of the peaks on the Wasatch front in the wintertime due to some of them being closed, I was able to get a lot of great experience snow hiking and climbing in the Wasatch.
Red Baldy 11,171ft.
Even though I went solo and met a few people on the mountain along the way, I thinking having a partner or a group with you is a good way to tackle the Wasatch front especially for avalanche awareness.
Twin Peaks (American Fork) 11,489ft.


Grandeur Peak 8,299ft.
Desolation Ridge 8,567ft.
Mt. Aire 8,621ft.
lookout peak-East Canyon-8,6,69ft.
Mt. Olympus 9,026ft.
Mt. Raymond 10,241ft.
Gobblers Knob 10,246ft. (failed summit attempt due to avalanche danger)
Guardsman/Clayton peak 10,750ft.
Dromedary Peak 11,107ft.
Red Baldy 11,171ft.
Mt. Superior 11,132ft.
Monte Cristo 11,137ft.
Lone Peak (Bell Canyon) 11,253ft.
O'Sullivan Peak (3-4-5th Class South face) 11,275ft.
Phifferhorn 11,325ft.
Twin Peaks (Broads Fork) 11,329ft.
Red Top Peak 11,378ft.
Twin Peaks (American Fork) 11,489ft.
Mt. Timpanagos-Everest Ridge 11,620ft.
Mt. Timpanogos North Summit
White Baldy
North Thunder Mountain
South Thunder Mountain
 

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