Why Y Mountain?
At 2,597 m (8,520 ft), Y Mountain appears to be a baby next to the peaks surrounding it. So why climb it? Once upon a time (Leap Day 2012) I was musing about mountains at work, as I am wont to do, and I knew I wanted one. I had just found out that someone had eaten all my food from the break room and I decided I needed a pick me up. But what was an Anders to do, I ask you? To climb a mountain after work was an easy decision. So with limited time and excess motivation I set out to summit Y Mountain.
You might think that I'm lying when I say this, but I concocted a secret story to get out of work a little early. "Listen," I told MUUB (Mrs. Up & Up Boss) "my imaginary friend died today...four years ago and I forgot to bury him. The thing is that he only appears on this day, as it's Leap Day. So, would it be okay if I took off an hour early?"
MUUB looked me up and down, noticing my Arcteryx Jacket and Pants and responded with a sigh, "Alright Anders...what mountain are you going to go climb?"
A little bit more haggling ensued and I was finally off to getting there! To the mountain I mean. I bought 3 beefy crunch burritos from Taco Bell on the way. I only ate two and decided to save the last as a treat for the summit.
The Y Trail
It's a very well known fact that I am not very fond of the Y trail. It isn't all that beautiful and it's usually very brown and just incites a vision of strenuous slogging in my mind. Truth be told I'm sweating just thinking about it right now.
I pulled on my pack and put my audiobook on (Song of Ice and Fire book 3 if you wanted to know) and put a jolly rancher in my mouth. My gaiters were nice and snug and my trekking poles reading to eat trail. Off I went!
Soon I was sweating profusely, and I was only wearing a short sleeve shirt! Normally I hate when this happens as moistness is death, but I had an ace up my sleeve. I charged up the trail and about 20 minutes later I was standing at the top of the huge cement Y, ensign of BYU. At the top the very wide trail stops at the Y, but the trail continuing on is somewhat small and heads to the south and goes up the canyon between Y Mountain and Maple Mountain.
Bifurcation of the Y Mountain Trail and the Y letter trail.
To Slide Canyon!
The trail becomes a single track the rest of the way. I made my way up to the mouth of Slide Canyon where I was greeted by the Ice Witch. She was eating Turkish Delight and asked if I wanted some. I didn't really want any, but my momma always taught me to accept gifts of treats when offered. I held out my hand, but she said, "Uh uh uh...bring me your older siblings and you can have all the Turkish Delight you want."
I just raised my eyebrow in reply. I didn't want her dumb treats anyway! I had a beefy crunch burrito from Taco Bell! I just walked on by. She cursed me as I departed that I would be unable to take any pictures of Rabbit Rock (the rock that is at the mouth of Slide Canyon). "Whatever," I said. I hadn't come there to take pictures of her rock but climb Y Mountain! In retrospect I'm thoroughly convinced she was the one who stole my food in the break room at work.
The more you get away from the sun drenched western face of Y Mountain the more shade and trees there are. The first flavor of trees or brush I encountered was the scrub oak.
View of Utah Valley from Slide Canyon
I realized the snow was getting deeper the higher I went up. I wasn't too concerned about this because I was well prepared with my snow shoes and burrito. The trail began to wind through evergreens next!
There are quite a few switchbacks that I had to take. I continued to sweat as I kept slogging on. Eventually the trees cleared away and I arrived at a snow covered clearing. I could see the depression of the trail where others had gone before, but I would need to break new trail.
My short sleeve shirt was made of 100% cotton and as such was pretty much soaked through with perspiration. I shed it off my body and clothed myself in my Under Armor base layer. I also put on my thin gloves too and my snow shoes. After taking a few steps and post holing to my knees I wasn't about to have any more of that. Past the clearing is an aspen grove. Once you can see a cleft between the two summits to the north that's about where the trail leaves Slide Canyon and you can make up the gully for the summit.
To the Summit
The trail up the gully gets a little steeper, and soon I was huffing and puffing my way through the fresh powder. I was sinking in even with my snow shoes on. It was tiring, but the theft of my food drove me upward and onward.
The trail begins to steepen up the gully. I looked up through the canopy to watch the snow carried off the branches down.
I like to look around once in a while when I hike; take everything in and familiarize myself with how the scenery looks going the other way. I couldn't help but notice Maple Mountain looming above me either, to the south.
The gully began to level out, but the more it did it seemed the deeper the snow became. I now had to work harder for each step. When soloing sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. I will hear noises and think they are some bear or shadow cat stalking me. It's usually just a fellow hiker or troll, but it's still scary!
Once the gully leveled out I turned to the east and since there was absolutely no trail I just followed the path of least resistance through the trees. The storm was starting to come in at this point and it wasn't very long until sunset.
Looking up from the saddle to the summit. Almost to the summit. Looking south at Utah Vally.
Summit of Y Mountain
A little before sunset I had made it to the top of Y Mountain! the storm was blowing me full in the face so I had to gird myself with my jacket, beanie, gloves, and goggles to protect my eyes from the wind. The real reason for climbing Y Mountain is the views it gives you of the other peaks. I basked in their glory.
View of Timpanogos to the north, along with Rock Canyon. Summit of Y Mountain and Cascade Peak to the Northeast. Provo Peak to the east. Western (lower) summit of Y Mountain and Utah lake beyond.
The wind grew fierce as the full storm came in. I didn't feel it though as bundled up as I was. It's funny how much gravity helps on the way down, but its acceleration was greatly appreciated by my legs. I plunge stepped all the way down to the saddle. By this time it was fairly dark, but once in the trees I could take off my goggles and turn on my headlamp. The trees, bless their hearts, sheltered me. Once I made it back to the clearing I was able to remove my snow shoes and make haste down Slide Canyon. I was extra careful though. I wasn't down yet!
I passed Rabbit Rock and the Ice Queen was nowhere to be found. Maybe because it had started to rain...or sleet would probably be a better word. Soon thereafter I made it to the wide Y trail and was able to run down it. Not much longer and I was in my car eating a nice cold beefy crunch burrito! They are even good cold! Anyway, that's my trip report of this small mountain. I hope you enjoyed it. It was an amazing adventure.
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