Ah, the Wasatch Mountains of northern Utah. Peaks galore, all within 30 minutes of suburbia! Paradise for a peak bagger! And the variety is amazing. You have walk-ups, and some peaks that require major mountaineering skills. But, there’s this peak, that to me, seems a little mysterious; Grandview Peak. It sits at the head of City Creek Canyon, kind of back there, almost like it’s trying to hide. It’s a very unassuming peak, but that’s what makes it intriguing. I see it every day as I drive home from work. I needed to climb this thing. So, what’s the big deal with this peak? Why hike it?
Well, Grandview Peak is in the top 100 for prominence in Utah. And for a “young man” who goes by the name of Dean, prominence is it man! That’s what Dean Molen does; he chases the prominence peaks. Oh, I’m sure you’ve seen his myriad of contributions here on SP. If you haven’t, then you’ve been on Pluto. Chasing prominence peaks is a sickness, according Dean. He must be terminally ill then. So, when Dean contacted me about climbing Grandview, there was no way I would say no. We worked the details out; the dates, times, and route, and we began the assault on Oct. 1, 2011. Grandview was going down!
Duh, which way do we go George?
Details. Hmmm, this was a tough one to figure out when it comes to bagging this peak. Which way? Well, there are several routes, all of them long, and possible bush whacks along the way. The other problem is that there just isn’t enough information on any of them to make a clear choice. Basically, I took over the route decision on this one. I always say, “Choose the route that gets you on the peak.” I have to feel warm and fuzzy about these things. I hate turning around because I’ve chosen the wrong route. After much deliberation, unreturned phone calls from the Forest Service, and wanting to get this peak for sure, I decided on the Great Western Trail. This would require a long up and down ridge walk from Big Mountain Pass. As the crow flies, Grandview sits a mere 4 miles or so from Big Mountain. You can practically touch it! Curse all those ridges in between! We’d have to follow the GWT, which would be an 18 mile round trip odyssey for us. But, it was trail, at least most of the way, which meant is was very doable. We went for it.
We left Big Mountain Pass TH at sunrise, 7:15 am. Fellow SP’er Aldo (Aldocious) joined us. He started bagging peaks about a year ago, and has a good streak going. He’s summited every peak he has attempted. He’d have to earn this one to keep the streak alive. We hit the first switch back just as the sun came over the mountains to the east. The fall colors on the east side of the Wasatch Front exploded! It was stunning, and they hadn’t even reached their peak color yet. That got the blood pumping, and we eagerly fell in step behind Dean. One mile into it and we got our first view of Grandview. Wha, wha, wha……. It’s so freaking far away! Dean smiled. I chuckled inwardly. Aldo threw up a little in his mouth. It was going to be a long day. But, we knew that going into it. So, with the early morning breeze to our backs, we did the old “Hi ho”, and headed north. Uh, Grandview was to the west. Yeah, it’s a long trail.
At 2 miles, we were just under the summit of Big Mountain. We decided we bag that one too, but on the way back. The trail was good. All the sheep in the area had made a nice, wide, incredibly dusty, unmistakably route through the aspens. I swear, sheep have got to be the dumbest critters. We herded a few ahead, as we went down the trail. They just couldn’t seem to get off the trail. Once out of the aspens we lost them. The trail turns northwest just after Big Mountain, and follows an ATV trail for the next 2 or 3 miles. We felt really good. We were making good time and the views were excellent all around. The trail goes up and around several little unnamed bumps along the ridge as it eventually turns west. Aldo wondered if he could name one after himself. No, that’s something someone else has to do for you Aldo. Geez! Dean, an avid BYU fan, Aldo and I, avid Utah fans, began the natural “ribbing” about the games that day, as we made our way across the ridge. Utah happened to be playing Washington that day. And Dean, being from the Tri City area, was telling us how the “Dogs” were gonna kill the Utes. Little did we know how true that was going to be. I won’t go into that anymore. We made it to the trail junction that leads to the north to Swallow Rocks. We thought about bagging that one too, but one the way back. So many peaks; so little time. We ran into a hunter coming from City Creek Canyon looking for elk. He said that he had run into a pretty good size black bear at the head of the canyon earlier. Really? That put a little spice into this adventure! But unfortunately, we wouldn’t be going that low. Darn! At about mile 5 ½, you lose about 400-500 ft in elevation as you drop into a saddle. And, as you could guess, you have to climb back out. You gain that back quickly in just under ½ mile, and you’re back on the ridge. Grandview was getting big by now, still 3.5 miles away though. The trail at this point just scoots around some sub peaks along the ridge. Finally, around 12:30 we reached the saddle that sits at the base of the final ridge up the east face of Grandview. We hydrated, Dean hid a bottle of Gatorade, and we began the final 800 ft climb. The trail got sketchy here. One minute it was there, then it wasn’t. But, it was obvious which way we had to go; up. Towards the top of the ridge, there’s some class three scrambling there, which I partook of. If you aren’t feeling up to that, you can go below the rocks, and head up through the weeds and stickers. Once on the summit ridge, we came across some rocks from an ancient seabed. We found several fossils of shells, which was a first for me. I was so excited I yelled, “FOSSILS”! The summit of Grandview is nothing spectacular, but the views are grand. The day was clear, and we could see as far north as the Wellsville Mountains and east to the Uintas. No other people were there. We found the summit register in an old mailbox, and all three of us signed. Looked like two others had been there this year. We took pictures, ate, watered the bushes and rocks, and headed down. Thank you Grandview, but you have now been bagged!
You're only halfway once on top
What?! We have to hike all the way over there?! That’s what I said as we began the decent down. I pointed with my trekking poles at the small little peak, 7 miles away that marked the 1 mile point from the TH. “I wish you hadn’t said anything”, remarked Aldo. Yep, it was 2:30 pm. We wouldn’t be back to the cars until 6:30 at the earliest. Funny how much quieter everyone is on a return to the TH when you out hiking huh? Oh we talked, but we were spread out a little more. Luckily, the fall weather cooperated, and we had a nice cool breeze on us as the sun made its way to the west and behind us. I could feel that hot spot on my right heel, and Dean had something similar. We stopped about halfway back and took care of those issues. It was at that point that we found out that Dean likes Pepsi. Yuck! Coke is where it’s at Dean! So, just like our earlier conversation about football loyalty, Dean was on the opposite side of Aldo and me. We love the Coke burn. Dean likes the Pepsi smoothness. Humph. We passed two ATV’s that sat empty on a sub peak as we passed on the ATV trail just north of Big Mountain. We secretly plotted how to steal them, and if we were offered a ride, would we accept. Would that diminish our accomplishment? At that point I didn’t think so. If they would have offered, I would‘ve gladly accepted without hesitation. We continued on. Swallow Rocks and Big Mountain were lucky today; we didn’t feel like bagging them. The TH yelled at us, not calling. But wait, something was calling, or bleating. Wait, what was it? Sheep. Yep, they were back, and once again, the stupid animals just ran ahead of us. Lucky for us the ever loyal sheep dogs pushed them over the ridge for us.
Finally, just before 7pm, we made the last switch back and crossed the road to the parking lot at Big Mountain Pass. We were tired, but fulfilled in our accomplishment. Grandview Peak; that unassuming, non-technical, out of the way peak, didn’t come easy. If you hike this peak, you have earned it. The most fulfilling thing about the 18 mile out and back, was being with good friends. There were three of us; three generations. Dean old enough to be my dad; me, old enough to be Aldo’s. And Aldo, well, he’s just a kid with many mountains yet to climb. But his streak is alive, and Dean grabbed another prominence peak. And I checked that mysterious peak off my list.
Loved your take on this hike as you are a great story teller. It was good timing on our part too since today there is about a foot or more of snow up there. We went from summer to winter in just a few days. There was snow above my house in Lehi this morning.
Great post and I definitely want to bag this one but I'm not going that way. I already did that to grab Big Mtn/Swallow Rocks and that seemed far enough. I think I will either go from Killyun Canyon or City Creek.
Thanks! Yeah, the only good thing about that route is the trail. Nice and easy becuase you start high. I thought about City Creek, but I just didn't want to be stuck in a canyon without good views for most of the hike. Good luck.
Good story! I started researching this one for our fall peak list. Wasn't happy to see 18 miles! lol. That's further than Timp. and nearly as far as King's! Never would have dreamed a summit in this area would be that far.