Chasing Salt Lake County's highest
Utah has it all, great scenery, great snow and great mountains. Whether you like the red rock country of the south or the high Uinta's or Wasatch of the north, it is hard to run out of things to do in Utah. Western Utah has some great desert peaks and then there is the Moab area of eastern Utah but I need to talk about the peak that is right in the backyard of Salt Lake City. As a skier, I've spent many many hours skiing the slopes of Alta and Snowbird. The snow in Utah is the best and I used to make the trip down from Washington frequently to enjoy it. However, when i got into peakbagging, I began to look at the peaks of Utah a bit differently. I decided that there was more to offer than just skiing them, I wanted to climb them.
A year ago, I was attempting the highest peak in Salt Lake County, located above the Snowbird, with my son when I had a mishap on the northeast ridge on a simple section that might be classified as class 3. A rock I was using for a handhold pulled out and almost sent me to the promised land. After a 15 foot tumble, I managed to stop just before going off of a cliff. Somewhat bruised and battered, I climbed back up to where my son was and retreated to lick my wounds and think about being a bit smarter the next time.
On the 19th of August, I was down to just needing three county highpoints to finish the state of Utah and I returned with fellow SP'er Dennis Poulin.
We bypassed the ridgeline and went up from a slope on the Mineral Basin side. It was a steep effort on heather and loose rock but we managed to get to the black rock section of the northwest ridge just as it began to go steeply up the side of the eastern summit. We met 5 others who were descending after doing a traverse from White Pine Lake and a couple of them were concerned about the northeast ridge since they hadn't ever done anything like this before. From what I could see, they did fine as they started working their way across the ridge. Dennis and I continued upward, picking our way up the steep climbers trail that worked its way up the northside of the south summit.
Finally, we topped out on the eastern summit of AF Twin and from there we made our way over to the Western summit, the highest spot on the mountain. You have to drop down to a saddle between the two summits but nothing is technical and in fact it is enjoyable just to be up there as the views are outstanding. Views of Mt. Timpanogas to the south were particularly interesting to me since Timp is one of my all time favorite mountains.
Before long, both Dennis and I were standing atop our 27th county highpoint, leaving us Kings and Gilbert peaks to finish the state.
There was no register or benchmark but as I mentioned, the views were all worth the effort to be up there. All too soon, it was time to retrace our steps. We didn't go back down the heather/slope to the Mineral Basin side but rather we found a rock chute and used that to lose elevation
On the way back down we did the most natural thing that one is apt to do, we started talking about the next mountain we were going to climb, Kings Peak, the highest in the state of Utah.
Our ascent route
Descending the scree
Descending the scree slope (pic by Dennis)
On the way up (pic by Dennis)
On top of AF Twins (pic by Dennis)
The view down towards Snowbird (pic by Dennis)