Big Beacon - 11.26.11
I started modestly my first foray into the Wasatch with a quick trip up Big Beacon. It was Thanksgiving weekend, I had received a job offer while climbing Stansbury Island the prior Wednesday, and I wanted a quick climb before the Saturday College Football games kicked off. I parked by the Huntsman and followed the SP route up, which described the trail ascending through the drainage along the west face. There was a trail, but it seemed neglected by hikers and maintainers alike, and I found progress hampered by brush and branches. Most hikers seemed to take trail up the ridge to the right of the overgrown trail.
Though the day started out hot and dry, the terrain switched to snow by the time I hit the saddle and traversed south to the summit. The trail was typically packed hard and slippery, so sans microspikes I often found it easier going off trail. The views from the summit were decent but I quickly descended, this time along the main trail down the ridge, so as to catch the college football action. As my new job, Bowl Season, and the NFL playoffs picked up, this would end up being my last peak climbed of 2011.
Gobblers Knob - 01.01.12
I started 2012 with an ascent of Gobblers Knob with SP member Ryan202. Having seen a trip report I had posted sometime in December he suggested a climb on New Years Day. We met at the Butler Fork trailhead. The trail was packed well enough where neither one of us found it necessary to bring snowshoes, and we made good progress to the saddle between Raymond and Gobblers Knob. The weather was perfect: mid/high 40’s amid a milder than usual winter, and the trail was packed enough to prevent postholes but for the most part wasn’t too slick or slippery.
We started up the ridge to Gobblers, which immediately got deeper and steeper. Ryan had already done Gobbler’s before in the summer, and after a few hundred feet of climbing decided to sit this one out. I might’ve made a similar decision had I already done the peak, but since this was my first time up here I decided to continue on; the avalanche forecast for the Wasatch was moderate, but I figured that the route up was fairly safe since it was along ridge crest.
A few huffs and puffs brought me up to the false summit, and from then on it was a cool looking traverse to the true summit. Here I was rewarded with my first ever winter views from atop a higher Wasatch Peak.
With Ryan waiting I didn’t linger long, and we soon made our way down back to the trailhead. It was a good way to start 2012.
Maybird Gulch - 01.14.12
A few weeks later we made a trip up to Maybird Gulch. We donned snowshoes and brought axes and crampons just in case we wanted to head on to Pfeifferhorn, but we ended up forgoing the summit because of high winds, iffy avalanche conditions, and the fact that I needed to get some work done before the Pats kicked off their Divisional contest against the Broncos. Still, the views of Maybird and the surrounding peaks were great on a crystal clear day, and Ryan got to practice some of the snow assessment techniques he had been training on in his avalanche classes.
Mt. Olympus - 03.10.12
A flu laid me down for almost a month, and I didn’t return to the Wasatch until early March. This time I met up for the first time with SP legends Dean and Kadee for a hike up Olympus. This would be Kadee’s sixth time up but amazingly the first for Dean (though the latter may shock some, one should consider that Olympus has a prominence of less than 400 feet). We started up the slopes in hopes that both Dean and myself would be able to claim our first summit of this Salt Lake City classic, but alas Dean’s ankle was bothering him from an injury the prior day on South Mountain, so he decided to postpone Olympus for another day. Kadee’s friends Brian and Kim caught up to us, and we trucked it up to the saddle a few hundred feet below the summit.
Along the way we bumped into SP member Joseph Bullough on his way up and then down his something like 415th ascent of the mountain. Kadee had joined for his 400th summit just a few weeks backs, and both remarked there was a lot more snow here in early March than there had been in February.
Once trail gave way to snow I found the footing a little tricky in just boots, but it was nothing too difficult. The postholing got a little annoying past the saddle, so Kadee, who had already been up the mountain several times, decided to call it a day.
The final scramble up to the top of Olympus was a little tricky with the rock complicated by snow and slippery running snowmelt, but I managed to carefully make my way to the top, while Brian and Kim followed behind, carrying their pup.
Grandeur Peak - 03.24.12
A couple weeks later I made the trip up Grandeur from the west slopes. I don’t even remember why I chose this peak for that Saturday; I’d probably stared at it enough to finally decide to tick it off for an easy morning ascent. The steep slopes up from the trailhead weren’t easy on my legs, but the ascent soon got better. There was some snow at the top, but nothing major. I talked to a guy named Mike at the top; he had lived before in Mass (Framingham and Cambridge), so in addition to talking mountains we found ample opportunity to trash the local food and drivers (two very common transplant complaints). It was a grey, cloudy day, but oddly clear enough where I could see Pilot Peak pretty clearly across the Nevada border.
Scott Hill - 03.31.12
The last Saturday in March my co-worker Sunil wanted to come up with me for a hike so he could play around with his camera and take some pictures. Scott Hill seemed to be a good option for beginners, so we started predawn so he could get some shots of the sunrise. I called up Matt (SP Member MtyBumpo), who got permission from the wifey for a hike as long as he was back by 9 AM.
We started up the snowed over road in the dark, Matt racing ahead of us to meet his deadline. I stayed back with Sunil, who found hiking in the snow in sneakers a little tougher than he had bargained for. Still, he got some pictures, but after postholing waist deep a little past the saddle above Puke Hill decided to hang out forego the top. The slanted snowdrifts along the road made the last few hundred feet a little more annoying than it should’ve been, and I chatted a little with Matt as he made his way down. He warned about the winds, which were formidable; while it was a 70 degree day down in the city I found myself freezing amid the 50 mph breeze at the top, so I didn’t linger long. We descended and returned to the city in time for breakfast.
Perkins / Pt. 7,500' - 04.07.12
Most people know them as Perkins and Dale Peaks, but in fact the highest point is a ridge slightly northeast of Perkins known as either Pt. 7,500’, or Perkins Peak North. This unassuming yet dominating peak rising above the University of Utah campus had been on Dean’s list for awhile now, due to its prominence; it in fact is the highest point of the ridge leading down from Little Mountain Pass to the valley. I had noticed it from Grandeur a few weeks prior, so we made plans to summit.
Dean had actually attempted Pt. 7500 the prior fall with Kadee, but they had turned back a few hundred feet from the summit when they ran out of water. The peak was dry all week, but a flash storm on Friday left it with a fresh coating for us Saturday morning.
We started down the road and ascended the steeper brushy slopes of Dale for the first summit of the day. Dean was still recovering from his ankle injury, and didn’t want to overexert himself for an upcoming peakbagging trip in Arizona, so he decided to hang out at Dale. I traversed down through the snow and some false summits to the saddle below Perkins and its northern, higher neighbor. It was a pleasant walk, and I noticed along the way some bobcat or at least feline looking tracks in the less than day old snow. The brush was annoying heading up to the saddle but probably not as bad as it would have been during the summer. I traversed right to join the ridge leading to 7,500’ a little bit north and above its saddle with Perkins. The remaining route was a fun traverse with some scrambling along the rocky, narrow ridge. The summit presented open views, and Grandview in particular looked impressive from my angle.
I recrossed the ridge and traversed back to Dale, bemoaning the last few steps on the reclimb. We headed down back to Little Mountain Pass, spying a baby moose along the way.
Mahogany Mtn - 04.22.12
A day after hiking Boulter Peak with Kadee I finally met the man, the legend, SP member gjagiels (Greg). We planned an ascent of Mahogany Peak between city of Provo and the peak of Timp. Kadee couldn’t join us as she had to watch their climbing pup Oquirrh for the day. We made quick work up the Grove Creek Trail, and pretty soon we found ourselves at the waterfall where we needed to leave the trail and cut up the scree...
...which was nasty, with the first few hundred feet or so being the steepest. They gentled up and the rest of the ascent eased up as we crested around some buttresses lining the southeast ridge and onto the more east trending southeast face itself. The slope was steep but basic, and we worked our way up the sparse grass and dirt to the ridge crest.
From here it was an easy walk through some snow parts to the top of Mahogany. We decided to tag the two northern subsummits as well (one of them being Mahogany North, a P 400’er with a page here on SP), encountering spots of snow, brush, and lightly travelled trails. The haul back over Mahogany North and the main summit was a pain but we were glad we had done the traverse. A still snowed out Timp dominated the view the entire hike, but we were able to get some great views towards Alpine Ridge from Lone Peak to Box Elder from the northern subsummits.
The next months or so saw trips back home to visit family and friends as well as a 4 day weekend Vegas binge that saw us turn that city into rubble. I managed to get some peaks in between, but Mahogany effectively concludes in my mind my first winter and spring in the Wasatch.