I Should Have Known Better...
I'm not sure I have much to add to the excellent write-ups already found here on Twin Peaks. Mostly I just need to vent a bit...
My son and I have been having a ball this summer hiking various peaks in the Wasatch. We have been searching out any hike that includes some fun scrambling as part of the regime. Naturally, Twin Peaks would find it's way onto our list. We decided to hike on the following Saturday and figured we'd do the Triple Traverse going over Sunrise and Dromedary before dropping into the Blanche lake area. Unfortunately, I spent most of Thursday evening driving the porcelain bus. Ended up staying home from work on Friday and figured our adventure on Twin would have to wait. But by Friday evening I felt pretty good. So good in fact that we decided to go ahead with the hike. We pulled into the trail head parking lot at about 6:30am and by 6:35am I felt like I might blow chunks at any moment. This went on until we reached the north ridge... it was a warning sign and like all warning signs I failed to read it properly. Once we reached the upper meadows the rain clouds started rolling in. The forecast called for late afternoon showers... so much for the forecast.
[non venting part... might be helpful for others
] We proceeded up the north side of the Robinson couloir
. From the bottom it looked like there would be a very small amount of bushwacking but would save traversing all the way over to the north to the gully proper. Bad judgment. The bushwacking was intensely thick and filled with a plant that resembled raspberries but without the sweet fruit. [back to venting
] These bushes really scraped up my legs
. So at this point I'm sick, it's raining and my legs are bleeding. We hid out under a tree while the storm passed. Now I'm having second thoughts. I don't know how serious the scrambling is on the ridge, the rocks are wet and my shoes are muddy. We continue on hoping that the water will evaporate off the rocks by the time we make the ridge. We then traversed over to the gully and followed it up to the ridge staying to the left (south) where it branches near the top. The scree in this gully is very loose and the size of tennis balls. It's a lot like hiking up a sand dune... two steps up and one step down. A group of about 8 other hikers caught up with us here. We all assaulted the rocky outcropping just below the ridge at the same time. I don't know where they all went but we never saw them again (if one of you are reading this... what happened?). I'm guessing they decided to go back for some reason. Anyway, there are a number of routes through the outcropping. The first one we tried was blocked near the top
so we dropped back down and went to the west a bit and found a nice couloir through the rocks. There's a large slab that you have to traverse to get to the couloir. It's slippery but if you stay up at the top there is an under hanging ledge that you can hold on to that makes it an easy crossing. The couloir was pretty steep and narrow but passable
. Once on the ridge the views into Deaf Smith canyon are incredible! The ridge is truly a knife edge here. Great scrambling along the north ridge. We had a ball. Without a doubt the best part of the hike. But all too soon it's over and you're on the east summit of Twin. I looked at my watch. It was 11:30am. We were about an hour behind the schedule inside my head. It hadn't rained on us since we were in the Robinson couloir but the clouds were getting thicker and much darker. We decided to leave Sunrise and Dromedary for another day so we walked over to the east peak, ate lunch and took in the AWESOME views of the valley
Did I mention that there are lots of rocks on this mountain? I know, that's probably common knowledge, but you might not know that every single rock on that mountain has a sharp point and sharp edge. I managed to run my hands, arms and legs into most of them.
By 12:30pm we're on our way down the traditional route off Twin Peaks. This involves down climbing the famed crack in the cliff band just above the saddle. I have to admit that I felt a little trepidation about this part of the hike after reading about it and seeing pictures. In reality, it turned out to very fun (makes me wonder if I wouldn't like rock climbing). We talked to a guy in the saddle waiting for a couple of his friends to descent Twin. he said they were planning to hike over to Blanche rather then descent into Broads Fork. So, standing at the saddle above the huge scree field leading into Broads Fork I was feeling pretty good. My stomach was fine, it was overcast but not raining and we had really enjoyed ourselves on the scramble. I should have known then that something bad was bound to happen.
We worked our way down the chute on the west side of the cliffs. I stopped at the bottom of the cliffs just where the scree starts to take a picture of my son
. Just then I hear a terrible noise. The sound of large rocks sliding and bouncing off other large rocks up above our heads. Turns out the guys above had decided to drop into Broads Fork and had kicked off a rock slide. I yelled to my son to get against the cliff face and I hid behind the only thing I could... A boulder about the size of a Volkswagen. Just as I got behind the rock I could hear and feel rocks hitting the rock I was hiding behind. I was hoping that my son was fine when all of a sudden it felt like someone had hit me in the side with a 16 lb sledge hammer. The blow spun me around 180 degrees and away from the protection of my boulder. Nothing else hit me, but I was sure my hip was crushed and I was going to need help getting out of the canyon. I reached down to feel my hip and it didn't feel deformed... I tried moving my leg. It moved ok but the pain was pretty intense. I put weight on it and it held. I guess I was going to walk out after all. I yelled up to the people coming down that I'd been hit by a rock and would appreciate it if they could stay still (and not knock down anymore rocks) until we were safely away from the cliffs. This incident has me wondering what a person can do to minimize the risk of rock fall. It was a long hike out of Broads Fork on a bum hip
and a frazzled mental state. All I could think about was if that rock had been two feet higher it would have hit me in the head and I'm pretty sure I'd be dead. No hike is worth dieing for...
Back to the hike... that talus field goes on for ever. It seemed to be endless. Finally we reached the upper meadow where the beaver ponds are. We had bypassed this part of the trail on the way up so didn't know if the trail cut on the west or east side of the valley. This is important because the whole valley is a swamp filled with bushes from hell. You guessed it, we opted to try the west side. We bushwacked through the thickest bushes I've ever been in. Red mud pits that didn't seem to have a bottom around every corner. Needless to say, next time I will stay on the east side of the valley where there's a trail. The rest of the hike was uneventful.
I can humbly say that this mountain kicked me hard. I might have got to her summit, but she fought me the whole way and sucker punched me right in the groin afterwords. I was sure when I got to my truck that it would be dented from someone backing into it just as icing on the cake (it wasn't). Driving home I was pretty sure I'd never hike that mountain again. Three days later as I type this I'm not so sure I won't be back. I think I need to do it again...
Video of climb: Twin Peak Hike