OverviewThe Uinta Mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in North America that run east to west rather than north to south. Within the Uinta Mountains are about 2000 lakes, and some 900-1000 are full of trout. Along with the San Juans in Colorado, the Uintas have more contiguous area above timberline than any other area in the Continental United States. This is a beautiful area with many lakes, meadows, wildflowers, and some rugged peaks. Solitude is usually easy to come by once you leave the popular fishing holes behind.
The Uinta Mountains are very rugged in the northeast section. Beginning at Hayden Peak and east to Mount Lovenia, the Uintas are not unlike the Tetons or other ranges. East of Lovenia, the peaks are more gentle, with a few rugged peaks (ie Red Castle and Henrys Fork Peak) scattered about until you are as far east as the Henrys Fork/Kings Peak area. East of Kings Peak, the Uintas become very gentle and the peaks are very rounded with only a few scattered cliffs about.
The High Bollies on this page are those mountains east of the High Uintas Wilderness Area. Bollie is a local name for big, but gentle rounded peaks above timberline. I haven't found any source of the name.
Introduction to Hiking and ClimbingAs opposed to the peaks in the High Uintas Wilderness, most of the High Bollies are day climbs by their shortest routes. None of the peaks are rugged, but some are interesting, and there are many lakes in the area.
Technical climbing is seldom done in the Uinta Mountains due to the fractured nature of the rock, and I can't think of any good rock climbs in the area of these high peaks.
In contrast to the peaks in the High Uintas Wilderness Area, most of the peaks in the High Bollies can be climbed in one day by the average climber, though long backpacking trips and routes are certainly available and possible.
None of the peaks have trails to their summits, but none of the peaks here are difficult by their easiest routes, and since the rock is loose, 4th or 5th class aren’t feasible anyway. This region contains some of the easiest 12,000 foot peaks in the Uinta Mountains and in Utah. Leidy Peak is the easiest of the peaks and is probably the easiest 12,000 foot peak in the entire state.
Despite the ease of ascending the peaks, most of these peaks are seldom climbed. The only exception seems to be Eccentric Peak because it is a county highpoint. Most of the trails in this eastern section of the Uintas are not used much, and many are fading away because of very light or no foot traffic. Even though the peaks are easy to climb, and not very rugged, this is a good place to go come to if you enjoy solitude. Many trails are shown on the topo maps, but many of them don't exist any more. Many of the peaks are surrounded by logging areas, and many of the trails in the area are actually old logging roads.
SeasonsMid-July through Mid-September is the normal hiking season. The roads in the area are usually open in late June or early July. They usually close when ever the first big snowstorm of the season hits, usually between mid-September and mid-October.
The normal summer season is July through September. Mosquitos are very thick in July.
October can sometimes bring fine weather, but don’t count on it. Really deep snows can and do come in October. By November, except under really unusual conditions, the mountains will be buried in snow.
Late March through early June is a good time to climb in The High Bollies, but the problem is that most trailheads still aren’t open to the summer parking areas. Late March through early June almost always still has a lot of snow, but travel is much easier then than it is in the real winter. The snow is more consolidated, making trail breaking much easier. The days are longer and it isn’t as cold as it is in the real winter. Note that big snowstorms can and do come at this time, so be prepared for that, and have a good weather forecast.
In winter, most peaks are pretty tough and all are usually multi-day trips. Climbing the Uintas are rather unique in winter because the most difficult part of the trip is actually covering the realitively flat ground to get to the mountain's base. This is because of typically very powdery snow below treeline. Usually, once you reach the steeper parts of the mountains; the parts above timberline, the going actually gets easier because the snow is blown rock-hard.
None of the High Bollies are easy trip in winter, because the road closures are so far from the mountains. Marsh Peak has been climbed in winter. See details on the mountain page. Eccentric Peak is a reasonable three day winter trip from the north. See the mountain page for more info.
GeologyThe main bulk of the Uinta Mountains is the orange-red, thickly bedded quartzite and sandstone of the Pre-Cambrian Uinta formation. These rocks are over one billion years old. Away from the core of the range, the rocks are all progressively younger in origin, and mostly sedimentary.
The area was heavily glaciated 17,000 to 13,000 years ago, which resulted in many lakes and glacier carved valleys. Only fairly recently did the last of the glaciers disappear.
BooksThere is not much available in the way of guidebooks in this area. The only one that makes any mention of the area is below.
Utah Mountaineering Guide--Very brief desciptions of most mountains in the Uinta Mountains.