Have you had a peak that has your number? One that you have attempted to summit more then once and had to turn around for one reason or another? That peak for me has been Pilot Peak. The first time I attempted Pilot I did it with my father and brother. We had to turn around because of a bad snow storm. Pilot Peak in March 08'
Two years later I attempted Pilot again in March. This time it was just me and my younger brother. Conditions were prime for a successful summit. We were doing very well. Snow conditions were great and we had blues skies. All was well until my brother started to have abdominal pains. The cramps might have been caused by the dramatic elevation change; or perhaps the Tuna Delight Tomato Pesto we had for lunch. Despite his stomach pain we kept going. We got close, really close.
We decided to turn around though, because we didn’t have any thing left in us. We were tired and we didn’t want to go down Pilot in the dark. It was a good decision. A tough one to make, but a good one. We made it down into Miner’s Canyon and drove to Wendover, NV to get a bite to eat. As we relaxed in the cold, plastic booth seats of Burger King chopping down on some Whoppers, I told my brother that I would never attempt Pilot again. I even called my wife and promised her that Pilot had seen the last of me. I was done with it!
Well, never make a promise you can’t keep. I met Eric (imontop
) on Summitpost about a year ago. We had corresponded through PM’s and eventually we met in person as we tried to hike Graham Peak out in the Silver Island Mountain Range in the Utah Desert. We didn’t have success summitting, but after that trip we stayed in touch. We tried to do other peaks, but our schedules never worked. They never worked until...Pilot Peak.
Pilot Peak is a dog of a peak. It has no trail. No right or wrong way to get to the summit. You just pick your poison. The two unsuccessful attempts were started from Miner’s Canyon. The third time was no different. Eric and I drove out to Miner’s Canyon from Salt Lake City Friday night. We wanted to get an early start to the hike. Well no such luck. We spent the night talking about all the places we wanted to go and peaks we wanted to climb. After the late night we started the hike a little before 9 am.
We decided to take the sub ridge or the north wall of Miner’s and follow it until we reached the main ridge.
Sticking with the ridge will keep you from going over all the talus, but not all of it. Pilot has talus flanking every side of it. You can’t get away from it! The steepness at the beginning of the hike really got our hearts a pumping. There is really no relief from the intense incline. The ridge offers a great scramble.
The weather was great and we found ourselves at the upper saddle and we decided to take a lunch break. Thinking we were keeping a good pace we were a bit surprised that it was already 11. From the saddle we could see the top or what we thought
was the top and it seemed very close. It wasn't! We weren’t! After our quick lunch we kept with the ridge and the steep incline ahead.
We seemed to slow up a bit. At this point my right eye started to go blurry. I’m not sure why? The blurry spot started out small and then began to get bigger. I wasn’t going to let this spot stop me from getting to the top, but it had me worried that I was going blind.
It seemed like forever, but we eventually reached the summit block. Off in the distance I could see one of the many rock structures and I knew we had made it!
FINALLY!!! The third time was the charm. It was a great feeling. Both Eric and I were relieved to make it. We got to the top just before 1. It took us almost 4 hours!
Pilot Peak is a dog. It was great to be on top. It was also great because my right eye was no longer blurry. We sat in the top rock structure taking in the wonderful views, looking at the vastness of the Great Basin.
We remained there for almost an hour, enjoying our summiting success, but we knew it wasn’t going to be a cake walk getting down. Our plan going down was going to be the same as going up; we were sticking with the ridge.
On our way down, we just happened to run into Moogie737
who was heading up. I found it interesting that the two other times I had tried Pilot I never ran into anyone and then on my third time I run into another person and that person was a SP’er. We spoke briefly and then we were on our way again. The steepness and rocks were starting to wear on us and all we wanted to see was Eric’s truck in Miner’s Canyon. What seemed like forever we finally saw the truck and we knew we were almost done. When we reached the truck we both were so happy to have it all over. Driving out of Miner’s Canyon we stopped to get one last photo of Pilot Peak.
Getting back into the truck we both said we would never be back. Pilot Peak is a dog of a mountain. We drove back to Wendover and again I found myself at the same Burger King enjoying a whopper, fries and a cold coke. Eric and I were glad to have it all over with.