I've had a love affair with Mt. Timpanogos almost as long as I can remember. The first time I ever saw this mountain was back in 1960 and I knew the first time I saw it that I had to climb it. I learned to ski on the flanks of the mountain at a place they used to call "Timp Haven", a little mom and pop resort that had a one person chair lift and a poma lift to get you to the highest point. Always, you had Mt. Timpanogos looming over you, beckoning. The ski area was bought out by Robert Redford and is now called Sundance. They've improved the ski area by improving the lifts and adding a couple new ones.
In 1999, I was in Orem (my daughter lives there) for the Labor Day weekend and my son in law and I decided to give Mt. Timp a go. We went up the Aspen Grove trail and had lunch at the shelter next to Emerald Lake. During the time we were in the shelter, it started snowing and the wind came up and my son in law didn't have much more than a t shirt on so we didn't go for the summit. I agreed to come back the following summer, in July and we'd give it another go.
The following July I went back down to Orem and my son Brad, and my son in law Jeremy headed up to the Timpooneke TH. The weather was turning ugly by the time we hit the trail and after we were about a mile along, the skies opened and the flood descended. Add to that a lot of lightning flashing above and we decided to retreat and try it a day or so later. This time only Jeremy and I were able to go so we left fairly late in the day and hiked about 7-8 miles up the Timpooneke trail to the meadow area at about the 10000 foot level where we camped for the night. In the morning, we were up at first light and on our way up the trail. Several snowfields lingered that we had to cross but none required any special gear as a well beaten trail made its way across them. The trail from Aspen Grove connects in just prior to heading up to a saddle . When you make it to the saddle, you have reached a point that overlooks the west side, you have a tremendous view down on to the Utah valley below. Almost all of it is developed so housing developments and streets are visible everywhere but as tiny little specks . In the distance you get a great view of Utah Lake. The trail continues southerly on the western side of Mt. Timp and you follow it until it zigs and zags its way steeply up one of my favorite areas on the mountain, the slot, where the trail is hemmed in by two rock walls. After the slot, the trail begins to reach for the summit which is recognizable by the hut that sits on its top. Early season hikes through this area would definitely require an ice axe and perhaps crampons and a lot of caution.
Jeremy and I had to stop several times to take in the vistas that would open up, one in particular to the eastern side which gave views all the way to Heber City. Vistas to the north showed many of the peaks of the Wasatch range and gave you a feeling that you were "deep" in the hills (not always the case in this part of Utah) Soon we were at the summit and we were the first party to arrive there but not the last. This is a popular summit and before long about another ten people joined us, which included one group of six. The views down to Emerald Lake were breathtaking as it is a straight drop of over 1500 feet. The people we could see down there looked like little ants. It was great to catch the sun as most of the part from the saddle on had been in the shade and the wind made us put jackets on for awhile.
The summit hut is a metal structure that was constructed to house an observation station of some sort but time has seen it suffer from vandalism and degenerate into a graffitti decorated structure that to me is somewhat of an eyesore. I'd hate to be in it in an electrical storm. Enough of that subject. Many people continue on down the ridge to get to the top of the Timpanogos glacier and a quick descent via glissades. If you come up the Aspen Grove route, this is almost always the quickest way to get back down. Jeremy and I descended back down the way we came and were back at the car within three hours, enjoying the many diversions along the way. One hillside was loaded with the little squirrel like critter called Pikas. They were everywhere and squeaked at us as we went by. We also saw three deer in one area just off of the trail and as I descended, I vowed to return and do this again. Although we did see some wildlife, we also saw tons of people heading up and one energetic man was carrying one of those big green Coleman stoves. Amazing.
Goes without saying that Mike Kelsey has some amazing books.
I don't understand the metal structure that housed the observation
station. Are we talking about a telescope? Why doesn't the Forest
Service or the Wasatch Climbing Club get involved with removing
the structure from the summit? Seems to me that nobody wants it
to be there. Yeah, great Timp page! That guy that was packing
the Coleman stove up there probably had 'mooseburgers' on his
mind. Gee, I just made myself hungry again! Take care. : )
p.s. - It would be more logical if they put an observation
station on Nebo's summit. It's a much broader summit, and is
several feet higher than Timp. Are you sure the station wasn't
used for scientific purposes, such as measuring earthquake
activity or something? It wasn't there in June 1976.
Kelsey states in his book that the hut was built in stage during the early 20's and in 1928 was finished as an observation station, complete with glass enclosures. He notes that in 1928 the forest service received a donation of $1,000 "for the construction of a metal observation tower and shelter on the peak of Mt. Timpanogos."
Even with conflicting stories on the origin, the thing was put up there in the 20's. The glass only lasted a year or two as high winds broke it after only a year or so. (pg. 14 of Kelsey's book). I'll put a section about all of this on the Mt. Timp page
as soon as I can.