Cold Fusion Couloir is a fantastic snow climb up the north aspect of North Timpanogos. While most commonly traveled as a ski-mountaineering descent, Cold Fusion Couloir is a strenuous and beautiful climbing route with an uninterrupted 2,500-3,000 foot glissade (depending on snowpack depth).
It is important to note that Cold Fusion Couloir is a steep, dangerous, and avalanche prone region of the Timpanogos massif. Only attempt this route under safe conditions and with proper knowledge and experience in avalanche terrain.
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Take I-15 to the Highland/Alpine Exit (#287), turn east onto UT-92. Continue east on this highway and you will arrive at the mouth of American Fork Canyon. There is a Forest Service Toll Booth and a $3.00 fee for a three-day pass on the road.
From the mouth of American Fork Canyon, go 4.8 miles up the Alpine Loop road to a large fork in the road. Take the right fork and continue 1 mile to the entrance of Mutual Dell, a youth camp. Gates close the parking lot during the winter and spring, so just park on the side of the road outside of the gates.
Take the asphalt road into Mutual Dell. When the road forks at the beginning of Mutual Dell, take the right fork and continue on the road until to arrive at the end of the parking lot. Here you will see a large pavilion. Just before the pavilion area there is a trailhead marker on your right hand side for the Bear Canyon Trail.
Take the Bear Canyon Trail two miles to the Timpooneke Road. Continue 2.5 miles west on the Timpooneke Road to the base of the Cold Fusion Couloir. The base of the couloir can be easy to miss. Missing the proper base of the couloir will cause you a lot of bushwhacking pain to get back in the couloir, so it's worth your time to pay attention and find the couloir.
To find the base of the couloir, the Timpooneke Road will travel west across the base of the steep, north face of North Timpanogos. After the north face, the road will curve sharply to the north, then take a horseshoe turn south around the base of the north ridge. After this horseshoe turn, watch the forest line on the left hand side. As the forest begins to thin, pay attention to your left and you will see the couloir begin up the mountain. If you continue to travel the road, and the pine forest has disappeared on your left, you have traveled too far. You are now in the bushwhacking terrain of the avalanche runout path, rather than the couloir proper where the solid snow resides.
Locating the base of the couloir can be tough in the dark. Here's an experience from seanpeckham
that is helpful:
"Where the couloir reaches the road, it is a small gully. I was expecting something larger and in the dark we failed to notice it. According to the GPS we were very near it, though, so we bushwhacked up until we found it. On the way down, I took a waypoint for the entrance: 40º25.692' N, 111º40.921 W. This is where the 7.5' quad shows the stream, right where the road starts to head NW again after the "horseshoe turn"; if you are heading WNW, you have gone too far."
The lower half of the couloir is an easy 25-30 degrees with no obsticles.
The middle half of the couloir has numerous cliffs that are easy to navigate with 30-40 degree slopes.
The upper half of the couloir is a constant 40 degrees, with some 3rd class rock scrambling depending on the snowpack. The couloir is wide and will supply different slope pitches depending on the line you choose. Local guidebooks record the pitch between 35-40 degrees and as high as 50 degrees. SPers have measured it at 40 degrees, give or take a few degrees.
The first peak you reach is a false summit noted as Point 11,383.
From the false summit, continue a short distance along the north ridge to the true summit at 11,441 feet. There is a small rock band along the north ridge with a 10-foot 3rd class section. Other than that, it's 2nd class terrain. Again, with this rock band, you can find spicier lines of 4th class is desired.
As fun as the ascent can be, the true beauty is in the ski descent or glissade. 2,500-3,000 vertical feet of steep, uninterrupted slope (depending on snowpack depth).
Ski ascent observation from Betacom:
If you are skinning up CFC,there is nice skin track ascending up the the NW aspect tree line staying outside of the couloir. from the start gully of CFC on Timpooneke Road, continue up road around corner were the pine forest disappears and opens to an apron, Skin track ascends up and left through the lower NW apron, staying near the edge of CFC. We initially skinned up the main CFC gully before cutting over to the NW skin track around 1000'. Skin track seemed safe and protected in the tree line, less exposure than going straight up the couloir?
Route Stats Bear Canyon Trail to Timpooneke Road
Distance: 2 mi.
Elevation Increase +1,442'
Timpooneke Road to base of Cold Fusion Couloir
Distance: 2.8 mi.
Elevation Increase +410'
Cold Fusion Couloir to The Summit
Distance: 1 mi.
Elevation Increase +3,031'
Route Total (one way)
Distance: 5.8 mi.
Elevation Increase +4,883'
Axe, crampons, helmet, and clothing for cold weather climbing.