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Winter Ascent of South Thunder
Trip Report

Winter Ascent of South Thunder

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Winter Ascent of South Thunder

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 40.53270°N / 111.735°W

Object Title: Winter Ascent of South Thunder

Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 19, 2008

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Winter

 

Page By: ZeeJay

Created/Edited: Feb 24, 2008 / Apr 19, 2008

Object ID: 383378

Hits: 3026 

Page Score: 89.39%  - 29 Votes 

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Winter Ascent of South Thunder

 
The start
The start

 
Second Hamongog
Second Hamongog

Four of us set out at 7:15 AM from Alpine, Utah at the end of Aspen Drive, elevation 5400', Dave, Lana, Michael, and myself. Our goal was the summit of South Thunder, elevation 11,154', 5.5 miles and 5700 vertical feet away. This would be my 10th trip to the summit. With nice crystal clear skies we had perfect conditions. The previous few days had been sunny and warm resulting in a nice solid crust on our southern exposure ascent.

 
Upper Bells Ridge
Upper Bells Ridge
 
Box Elder Peak
Box Elder Peak

Our first milestone was the "First Hamongog" a flat meadow at about 7000'. I usually take the main dirt road to get there, but my friends knew a slightly shorter way that bypasses some switchbacks. At one time you could drive all the way to the First Hamongog in the summer, but the distance you can drive has progressively gotten shorter as more and more gates have been erected across the dirt road. Now there is a gate at the very start of it and you must begin walking at the end of the pavement. We followed some tracks to just beyond the First Hamongog where they diverged from our route. It was time to put on the snowshoes.


 
Heading to 9680
Heading to 9680

 
Lana
Lana

Our second milestone was the Second Hamongog, a meadow nestled at the base of the valley between Lone Peak and Upper Bells Peak. The path from the First Hamongog to the Second Hamongog is somewhat circuitous and I was glad I had gathered some GPS waypoints from a trip in August. Otherwise this section had the potential to degenerate into a nasty bushwhack through dense scrub oak. On a trip last winter the trail was completely obvious, but this year with lots more snow it was very hard to make out.


 
Lana
Lana

 
East of 10,035 bump
East of 10,035 bump
Once past the second Hamongog the trees quickly thin out and you can see the third milestone, the ridge to Upper Bells Peak. This section was like a sliding board as Lana's sunglasses know as they took a ride down. I dove for them but came up short, almost taking a ride myself. Michael, always the gentleman, climbed down to retrieve them. We attained the ridge at about 9400' and followed it about 200' up to an obvious flat spot. Up until we gained the ridge, the snow had had a pretty nice crust to it wherever the sun had hit, but now it was starting to get a little soggy and a few good whacks to the snowshoes were occasionally necessary.


Our fourth milestone was now visible, the 9680 bump at N40 31.050 W111 44.181. There is a ridge that starts just to the NE of this bump that you follow to about 10,400'. We traversed the half mile over to the base of the bump losing some altitude in the process. By this time we were really cooking and we stopped to shed whatever clothes we could.

 
Upper Bells Peak and Lone Peak
Upper Bells Peak and Lone Peak
 
Lone Peak
Lone Peak

We ascended the ridge to our fifth milestone, the flat spot at 10,400', traversing to the east of bump 10,035. If you dare lean over the cliffs to the east you can see Lake Hardy below. Finally, South Thunder comes into view

 
South Thunder
South Thunder


 
Almost there
Almost there


 
Lightning Ridge
Lightning Ridge


 
Summit mailbox
Summit mailbox
 
Michael
Michael
 
Lana
Lana
 
Dave
Dave
 
Me
Me

Next we headed toward the saddle to the SE of South Thunder and reached our sixth milestone, the eastern base of the summit cone. At about 10,800 we hung a left and headed steeply up to the east ridge through a rocky area. I tried ditching the snowshoes here but ended up wallowing so I quickly gave up that idea. About another fifty feet up when the snowshoes were balling up badly enough to be unsafe, I decided to ditch them no matter what, but this time it was OK. Michael and Lana opted to put their crampons on, but Dave and I hadn't brought them and felt fine without. I heard some loud "exclamations" behind me and turned to see a small black object sailing down the hill. I hoped it wasn't anything crucial. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Dave's camera which managed to hit a rock at about 30 mph. There was no point in retrieving it then, so we picked it up on the return. Once we reached the ridge it was a little nippy and we had to put our coats back on. It was easy going to the summit our seventh and final milestone. We got there at 12:30, 5 hours and 15 minutes after we started.


 
Lone Peak
Lone Peak


North Thunder
North Thunder


 
View east
View east


On the summit it was clear and sunny and there were fantastic views all around. To the southwest is Upper Bells Peak, to the west is Lone Peak, to the northeast is North Thunder blended into the Big Cottonwood ridge, to the east is American Fork Twin Peaks, Red Top, Red Baldy, and Pheifferhorn, and to the southeast is Box Elder.


 
Descending
Descending


Box Elder and Timpanogos
Box Elder and Timpanogos


 
Almost done
Almost done


Our descent took 3.5 hours bringing us back to the car by 4PM just in time to hit rush hour traffic on the way home. Snow that was rock hard on the way up was now soft which made for better knee cushioning. The few other times I've been this way in the winter the dirt road leading down from the First Hamongog has been mud soup by this time of day. In the summer this stretch is brutally hot. But today we were blessed with abundant snow cover and cool temperatures and had a pleasant walk down.

Topo of trip
Topo of trip

Images


Comments


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Viewing: 1-10 of 10    

Dmitry PrussGreat job on a TR

Dmitry Pruss

Voted 10/10

BTW it may be easier to add pictures with the help of Add Image -> New menu on the left. This way images are attached right away, and their map locations are more or less correct right from the start too.
Posted Feb 24, 2008 11:58 pm

Matthew Van Hornexciting

Matthew Van Horn

Voted 10/10

You people are freakin' awesome. I wish I could have gone with you. Next year, perhaps.
Posted Mar 3, 2008 11:52 am

seanpeckhamcool trip!

seanpeckham

Voted 10/10

This has been a good year for the Wasatch. For some reason I was in Canyonlands during this precious window of snow stability.

Several of your photos show a unique perspective and are a great addition to SP. Nice job.
Posted Mar 3, 2008 1:43 pm

Rob ThompsonFine Report

Rob Thompson

Voted 10/10

Thanks for the great photos and narrative - and an excellent map!
Posted Mar 3, 2008 9:48 pm

maraudersI loved...

marauders

Voted 10/10

...the photos. What a beautiful place in winter. Thanks for posting.
Posted Mar 7, 2008 1:21 am

ScottGood job.

Scott

Voted 10/10

South Thunder in winter is quite an accomplishment for sure. Nice photos.
Posted Mar 9, 2008 10:48 pm

PocketsOfBlueRepeat!

PocketsOfBlue

Hasn't voted

Just did this hike today. It was awesome! Snow conditions were great, even though I wasn't on the trail until 12:45 pm! Thanks for all the descriptions and information, I got off track a couple times but it's pretty easy to find your way. I loved the alpine meadow at around 10k feet, must be really nice in the summer.

edit: I saw your ledger in the mailbox, you guys were the first (recorded) ascent since the fall, and I was the first to go up after you. Leave it up to the SPers eh?
Posted Mar 23, 2008 11:05 pm

Moogie737One more time

Moogie737

Voted 10/10

We did this trip again on 11-15-08 and when I read your report of our trip this past spring, I was startled at your accuracy. This time there wasn't as much snow, but our times were almost identical to those we logged in your report. The only advantage we enjoyed was having a recognizable trail between the two Hamongogs. Thanks again for a superb trip report.
Posted Nov 17, 2008 10:41 am

johnplocherIncredible

johnplocher

Hasn't voted

We always comment about how hard it was physically, but I've found these kinds of trips push you mentally and emotionally as well. So congrats on making it - no small feat.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 12:48 pm

ZeeJayRe: Incredible

ZeeJay

Hasn't voted

Thanks! I think sometimes the mental effort is more than the physical effort.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:07 pm

Viewing: 1-10 of 10