Thanks to PellucidWombat for the summitpost route page and to my parents for setting up the car shuttle!
For my 100th county highpoint I hoped to do Salt Lake County, my birthplace. I'd planned to do a standard route up and down Twin Peaks until seeing the possibility of running the Bullion Divide. Along with sub-summits Hidden Pk and Red Top, this route picks up 5 of the 12 11ers(P300') in the county with some good scrambling!
Started up the Cecret/Secret/Cercret Lake Trail at 6:50am. At times the trail branched and I guessed. Eventually I just started off-trail hiking to the south. When I finally saw Cecret Lake I was several hundred feet above it and continued up to the ridge between Devils Castle and Sugarloaf. From there it is an easy walk to Sugarloaf's summit, which I hit at 7:50am.
Descending Sugarloaf, I went north to avoid vegetation then contoured west to hit a trail; in hindsight it probably would have been easier to just plow directly west. Passed a couple ski lifts then headed up Mt Baldy at 8:15am.
En route to Hidden Pk I passed up an ATV on the ridge that seemed to offer a free ride, then continued up to the summit buildings and lift at 8:40am. So far the hike was straightforward, but I knew the knife-edge was not far off.
Passing three people working on a lift, I headed over to the knife-edge. Before starting, I noted that the knife could be easily bypassed on the south by descending 200', but I decided to proceed. The ridge does have some exposure and places where a fall would be very serious, but there never seemed to be extreme exposure on both side simultaneously. In a couple places, a tree on the ridge complicated things. I also noted two sport-climbing bolts during the traverse.
Shortly, the ridge gave way to a section of pleasant black boulders, followed by a steep ascent up the east summit. The traverse to the west was a simple walk, and I achieved the main goal, the county highpoint, at 9:50am.
On my way to Red Top, I startled a mountain goat, who then escaped on ledges to the north. Red Top is a great example of some abrupt and beautiful color changes in the area's rocks. Reached this sub-peak at 10:15am.
Red Baldy was my favorite summit of the day; straightforward scrambling along or just below a ridge. Topped out at 11:25am. The heat and sun were wearing on me, and I wouldn't have minded if this were the last peak. Still, I resisted the urge to quit and pushed on towards White Baldy.
The east ridge of White Baldy has some real difficulties. To bypass a large tower, I found myself contouring around the north face then ascending loose gullies to reach the ridge again. I continued along the ridge-top and was getting close, when a small but nasty tower blocked easy passage. I couldn't tell whether I could traverse around this, and trees seemed to cover the mountain in this area. So, I took the safe way, descending maybe 100', traversing west, then scrambling up to the ridge on the west side of the summit. I was glad that the rest was straightforward scrambling and summitted at 12:45pm. I was now hot and tired. Pfeifferhorn was just another peak to the west but would wait for another trip. My plan now was to return along the east ridge and descend to the White Pine Lake trail.
Looking back to the small crux I had bypassed, I could see more options. So, I decided to try the direct route back. This worked, though certainly with some class 4 moves using all of my height. When I reached the loose gullies again, I took them all the way down to a lingering snowfield below the north face.
Boulder-hopping was now required until I intersected the trail for the 3 mile walk out. Saw three hikers on the way out and reached the White Pine TH at 3:30pm.
I would've preferred a partner, especially for the car shuttle, but no one on SP took the bait! I set GPS points for the summits and the final TH, although the general route is pretty straightforward. I enjoy hiking solo, but it's not for everyone. Good luck if you go!
I did a solo loop up the east ridge and down the west one yesterday, and I clearly remember the difficulties (large tower, and small nasty one) you mention on the east ridge (I think you called it the west ridge on accident?). I was wondering if it was just me, because I didn't know it was supposed to be tricky. Nice job going back down that way, I was relieved to go down an easier way!
Thanks for the correction! I had swapped E/W several times in my report and photo caption - hope it didn't confuse people. I'll blame my dyslexia on living in Denver where the mtns are west, whereas this range lies east of SLC. Glad you had a good outing!