South Ridge Route
First off, I must say that I was not able to finish this route, but I wanted to post something, so anyone who might be interested in it could get some ideas from it. Ben Lomond dominates the Ogden valley. It rises almost 5000’ above the valley. For me it is all I can look at since transferring job locations from Salt Lake City to Ogden. Working in Salt Lake and having the central Wasatch peaks to look at, I took those views for granted until I started working in Ogden and I realized how the northern Wasatch peaks are less dynamic looking. I guess that is why i was drawn towards Ben Lomond. It reminds me of a peak you’d see in the central Wasatch. Looking at Ben Lomond every day from my work, I couldn’t help myself, but to pick out different routes one could take on its south face. One particular route from all of them became the one that I thought would be a good one to try: the South Ridge. Seeing this route and thinking this would be a great one to try and push myself I picked a day to give it a shot.
You have to understand that for me I want to take my skills to the next level. To do peaks not from the standard trails that everyone takes, but to go out and see a different way to get to the top and do it. To do steeper, tougher, more exposed routes. This is the year that I decided to push myself and learn from my experiences. I want to be able to look at a peak and instead of saying no way in hell I’m going up that thing, to say hell ya lets go! I’m sure for alot of you that read this are thinking Ben Lomond isn't that bad. I get it. But, one has to start somewhere.
My plan was to wake up at 3 am on a Sunday, but I didn’t leave my place until a little after 4 am. I blame my tardiness on the Jake Shields vs George St. Pierre fight I stayed up for the night before. Having a late start I knew might be a problem later on in the day, but I wasn’t going to not give it a go. From Kaysville I headed north on I-15 and took the 2700 North/Farr West exit (349) and headed east towards Harrisville/North Ogden. After about 3 miles I turned left on Washington Ave in North Ogden and head north. Washington Ave turns into 400 East after about a quarter of mile and then 400 East becomes 450 East after another quarter mile. Its not as hard as it sounds. Then I turned right onto 3100 North and head east and then I turned left on 800 East or Monroe Blvd, which will eventually turn into Jackson Ave. I followed Jackson Avenue all the way up until it ends and then turn left on Nebo Avenue and parked at the end of the road. At the end of the road was a locked gate to the north. This is where I started the hike.
Getting out of my car and casting my eyes south across the Ogden valley with the lights burning throw the morning darkness, I knew it wouldn’t be long until the suns beams would burst through the canyons. I would need to quicken my pace to have any chance to get to the top of Ben Lomond, before the sun would start to beat down on the snow. I crossed over the locked gate and followed the dirt road almost a half mile before I came up to fenced off detention pond. From there I made my way around the pond and found another dirt road that follows along overhead powerlines. I got to a certain point when I took off from the road and bushed it until I eventually found a “trail” of some sort which actually took me right up to Point 5,980 ft.
From that point it flattens out just a bit and I came across an old cement water tunnel that someone must have used to get water from the stream that flows down from the south face. I had to make my way through a small out cropping of mahogany trees and finally met my first steps of snow. Once I was out of the trees the ridge steepens. I was feeling great! I would take short 30 second breaks here and there and take in the views of Ben Lomond’s south face as it was starting to open up as I climbed higher. I hadn’t dawned my crampons yet. I didn’t need too. The snow was firm and I was able to kick my boots into the snow without any problems. The lower ridge was a mix of snow and rock and I was enjoying the transition of it. I got to a certain point where I was crossing a slab of rock, but found myself lacking the holds to make the crossing. I was unsure at this point what to do? I didn’t want to slip off the rock and on to the snow, because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to catch myself with my axe on the snow before a small cliff that was below me. Not that it was a big deal, but for a slight moment in my mind I was worried. I managed to use my axe and place little holds above me which I then was able to cross back over the rock and back onto an easier path.
After that little hiccup I decided it was time for me to put my crampons on and take a little break. It was great to take a break and to look down from where I came. The views where outstanding and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
After my break I looked at the time and it was almost 8 am. In my mind I had a cut off time of 10 am if I wasn’t on the peak to turn around. I didn’t want to be any later, because I was unsure of how the snow conditions would be for me coming down. Ben Lomond was getting closer and I wanted to keep going. At this point the ridge had gotten steeper, but the snow was still firm and I felt like it was a good decision to keep going. By now I was on snow the whole time and was above the lower portion of the ridge. My pace had slowed up a bit and when I looked at my watch it was almost 9. Being above the lower ridge I was at the section of the ridge in which it actually drops down and then back up again before the final ridge to the peak. I knew by the looks of it I still had about a mile left. I stood there looking at Ben Lomond unsure of what I should do. Man it was so close! I wanted to keep going. I wanted to finish it! My legs felt great, I felt great! But in my mind I knew I should call it and head back down. All the “what ifs” playing in my mind weighed to great for me to continue. Looking back now, I’m not sure if it was the right call, but that was the decision I made. I took one last look at Ben Lomond and looked at my watch and saw that it was just past 9:30 am. On the way down I chose to glissade down. Man, what a blast that was and how quickly I found myself at the bottom. I bushed wacked it through the trees and back on to the dirt road back to my car.
Almost every time I don’t get to the top of a peak I come away with feelings of disappointment. With life I find that I am not able to get out as much as I would like. I am sure my wife thinks I get out way to much. But when I don’t accomplish what I plan for weeks to do, I feel like I let myself down. But, this time i didn’t feel that way. I felt great. I had enjoyed my time and the experience I had trying to getting to the top. I learned things. I realized how much fun it is to do a peak in the snow. I learned that even if things seem fine to trust my instints and go with it. I also realized that pushing myself to do harder things I get a greater since of accomplishment then I would by taking the easy way.