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Mt. Timpanogos via Timpooneke Trail: Start Time?

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Mt. Timpanogos via Timpooneke Trail: Start Time?

Postby Sarah Simon » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:55 pm

Hello Utah team,

Our South Jordan based company is considering a "team outting" up Mt. Timp in August or perhaps September (more than likely September). For some reason, they have nominated their Colorado colleague to head up this initiative. :?

I am insisting on the "alpine start," getting to the Timpooneke TH by 3:00 AM or so. Accustomed to summitting peaks in the Colorado Rockies, I am used to needing to be off summits by noon to avoid lightening. Not to mention, sunrise is beautiful in the mountains.

I've even got colleagues saying in the past, they've started up Timp at midnight. Another colleague is insisting mid-day thunderstorms are "just not such a big deal" in the Wasatch and that we can wait until 6:00 to start. (He has reached this conclusion largely by what he sees out his office window...) I think this "6:00 AM start" colleague is slightly crazy, but I want some additional opinions from those who know Timp and the Wasatch well.

A few factors to consider:

*We have very few mountain climbers in this group but mostly seriously fit people (Leadville 100 types, mountain bikers, trail runners, road runners, road bikers, etc.)
*Everyone lives in the Utah valley or a higher elevation

In sum, some of my colleagues *really* want to do this group hike up Timp, but I don't think they are keen to an alpine start and I'd rather select a more manageable objective. With a bit more information from Wasatch experts (Gazelle? Dean? WasatchVoyage? TieDie? Others?) I can make a more informed decision that is best for my co-workers. :D

Thanks,

Sarah
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Postby Gahugafuga » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:50 pm

This might not be the most conclusive answer, but as a CO ex-patriot I can probably speak a language you'd understand. In CO, it wasn't a question of whether there would be storms, it was just a question of what time they'd hit. In UT, it really is more of a crapshoot. We have lots of fair-weather days in mid-summer where one could summit at 5PM in perfect safety. But we also get unpredictable storms; yesterday I got chased off the Wasatch Crest trail around noon while biking. I feel like I can generally trust the weather forecast to be true around here, but that doesn't exactly help you when you need to plan things out in advance.

In truth, I still live by the same rules I lived by in CO (pre-dawn starts, always carry an ice ax, etc.). Most people think I'm nuts when I wake up at 4AM to hike, but I've found one major justification for it, even with the fair weather, lower elevations = hot. I did a long traverse on Timpanogos last year on a day when it was in the upper 90's in the valley. By the time I got back to the trailhead, it was in the low 80's at that elevation with direct sunshine. That route has very little shade overall. I'd much rather climb in the cool morning air.

Oh, also, leaving early puts you up into Timpanogos Basin at sunrise which is probably worth the effort to wake up at that hour.
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Postby mountaingazelle » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:19 pm

I would allow most of a day to hike up Timp. This is a good idea since some of the people in your group do not sound familiar with the mountain. I’m one of those people who like getting up early. In the Wasatch, if the weather pattern is predicted to be nice without thunderstorms then 6:00 is usually just fine. If there is a significant chance of storms then Timpanogos wouldn’t be the best choice. Since you are planning this ahead of time, I would stick with Timp and if the weather isn’t as nice, then have a backup mountain.
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Postby Sarah Simon » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:00 pm

Gahugafuga wrote:This might not be the most conclusive answer, but as a CO ex-patriot I can probably speak a language you'd understand.


Thank you, I really appreciate this perspective (CO to UT) as it's very pertinent to my planning.

Gahugafuga wrote:...yesterday I got chased off the Wasatch Crest trail around noon while biking.


Yes, I was here in Utah for that storm and it looked ferocious down here from Sandy (and I would NOT have wanted to be outside in that weather!)

Gahugafuga wrote:Oh, also, leaving early puts you up into Timpanogos Basin at sunrise which is probably worth the effort to wake up at that hour.


<sigh> I've been trying to push "watching the sunrise" as a benefit and I get: "I would still like to be in bed at that time" as a response from some colleagues. :x
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Postby Sarah Simon » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:02 pm

mountaingazelle wrote:In the Wasatch, if the weather pattern is predicted to be nice without thunderstorms then 6:00 is usually just fine. If there is a significant chance of storms then Timpanogos wouldn’t be the best choice. Since you are planning this ahead of time, I would stick with Timp and if the weather isn’t as nice, then have a backup mountain.


Great input all around. A 6:00 AM start would be more palatable to my co-workers...is there another nearby peak you would recommend off the top of your head as Plan B? (I can do some research, as well, but if you've got some off-the-cuff input, then that would be great.)

Thanks to all and please keep the feedback coming!
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Postby mountaingazelle » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:12 pm

Big Baldy. It is one of the foothills on the west side of Timp. There are good views from the summit.

Or perhaps, it would be more fun to just do Timp regardless of weather. If you are caught in a storm and have to turn around, you can tell your colleagues, I told you we should have started earlier!
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Postby Scott Wesemann » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:00 pm

I think you will be ok with a 6:00 AM start. Just keep an eye on the forecast and if it looks like a good day (high pressure + high temps) you should be fine. The weather forecasts here in the summer are really pretty accurate. I think the Uintas are a lot more like the CO mountains with daily thunderstorm threats. In the Wasatch we usually don't have much of an issue unless we are getting afternoon storms from the south (monsoon) which doesn't happen a lot.
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Postby builttospill » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:11 pm

Some peaks that would allow a later start time can be found out of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The Timpooneke trail gains roughly 4,400 feet, so if you found a peak with less gain than that, it would be reasonable to start later.

Red Baldy might be an option, it's about 3,500 feet of gain, but the mileage might be more? It also involves some Class 3 according to the route page here on summitpost.

Mt. Superior from Cardiff Pass would be a slightly easier option, and even easier in terms of elevation gain and time required would be something like Sugarloaf in Albion Basin (closer to 1,000 to 1,500 feet of gain and overall a VERY quick climb).

Personally, I find that people in Utah County have a strange affinity toward climbing Timp, so you might just want to stick with that plan. Maybe compromise and go at 4:30? I haven't had many problems with thunderstorms in the Wasatch in general, and if you can keep them moving at all you should be fine starting at 6 am or even later (in my experience).

(Hiking Timpanogos starting at midnight is a favorite activity of BYU undergrads--just so you know where that comes from--I can't count the number of people who find out I climb and mention that experience to me).
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Postby Sarah Simon » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:43 pm

Ok, so it sounds like a 6:00 AM start would be sufficient. I think my co-workers - yeah, even the lazy sales guys - can handle that. (Do I really have to crawl back to that software developer guy and tell him: You were right (6:00 AM) I was wrong (3:00 AM)?)

I like the alternative peaks you all have recommended (thank you) and will make a list, investigate them, and select one. (No class 3, that's for sure, not for these non-mountain climbers.)

:twisted: So, now I know that all of my good BYU Cougars were enjoying a BYOB at midnight on Mt. Timb as undergrads. (ha ha, yeah right...) I will have to rib them about their "party days" at BYU... :wink:
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Postby drjohnso1182 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:33 am

I can't recall the name of the trailhead we started from or exactly at what time (between 6 and 7, I think), but when we reached the summit ridge, it looked like this:
Image

An hour later, when we were well on our way down, the clouds finally lifted and it turned into a beautiful day. Based on that, I would recommend starting as late as possible. :P
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Postby Scott » Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:08 am

As mentioned, summer weather is typically way better in the Wasatch than the Colorado Rockies. Thunderstorms can happen, but they are fairly uncommon when compared to Colorado.

I've been on top of Timp for sunrise, but if you plan on descending the Timp Glacier, it tends to be hard and icy in the morning, so 6 am is a much better time to start.

...is there another nearby peak you would recommend off the top of your head as Plan B?


NO! Timpanogos is one of the most scenic peaks in the Rockies. If you are coming from out of state and don't get to the Wasatch often, do that one. Even if you don't reach the top, it's still really scenic. I would suggest not doing an alternative, especially if you are there for fall colors.

Also, the Aspen Grove trail has more waterfalls, but both trails are really good.
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Lightning on timp

Postby BTMPD » Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:48 pm

I climbed Timp on Saterday. The weekend had warnings for thunderstorms in the afternoon so we camped over night at emerald lake and decided to summit for sun rise. We were foiled in our attempt by rain and lightning early morning which cleared and the rest of the day was beutiful. You never know about lightning on timp the best thing is to just keep a weather eye.
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Postby WhitePine » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:53 pm

I'm from Colorado so I know what you mean about the storms. It can be downright scary if you are still high up in early afternoon. Like the rest of the people said here. You don't really need to worry too much about afternoon storms in the Wasatch unless they are forecasted. But that being said, we all know the weather guessers can be very wrong sometimes.

I would recommend starting early if possible. I hiked Mt. Nebo last week. Starting at 9:15 am and it was scorching on the descent. There is a lot of direct sun exposure, similar to Timp. I was regretting starting so late.

Timp is a cool mountain and you should definitely hike it if you have never done it but some people hype it so much that sometimes it can feel like a freeway due to the hoards of people that climb it. If it were me I'd probably choose another mountain.

The main thing is you don't want too be married to your goal. If weather blows in, don't hesitate to turn around early.
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