Winter Ascent of Deseret Peak

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Trip Report
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Dec 2, 2000
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Created On: Oct 25, 2004
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I did this climb with my wife, Kimberly. It was my 3rd, and her 2nd trip up Deseret Peak. It was an excellent trip.

Day 1, December 1st: After getting off from a 1/2 day at work, we drove to the trailhead from Salt Lake City. We didn't expect to make it to the summer trailhead through the snow, but our trusty Pathfinder got us there. We snowshoed up the trail, which was easy to follow, but had quite a bit of powder snow. On this trip, we decided to experiment towing our packs with sleds instead of carrying them. It was a partial success. We made good progress until reaching the steep headwall at the head of Mill Fork. We had hoped to reach the saddle, but it was getting late, and the snow was freezing up, making it icy. We set up camp behind a high tree below the saddle and at 9840 feet. It wasn't flat, but we made a pretty good platform with the shovel on the up-slope side of the tree. Excellent sunset that night.

Day 2, December 2nd: The temp was 4F (-16C) in the morning. We had made a mistake in not bringing crampons. We had brought ice axes, but the Mill Fork headwall was very icy in the morning, and it was difficult to ascend. After several tries, each ending in her sliding back down the mountain, Kimberly decided that I should go without her, and she would go back to the tent. After a few slides and follies, I climbed the headwall to the saddle. It was very windy, and I was glad that we had camped a ways below and by that tree. Rather than following the summer trail, I stayed directly on the ridge-line, along the up and down summit ridge to the top. What a view, and what a great day! On the way back, I decided to take the summer trail rather than making a few extra ascents up minor peaks, but this proved to be a mistake. The slope was very icy and scary without crampons. Just above the saddle, I ran into two other climbers who were heading back. They said they attempted the climb the week before, but started a minor slab-avalanche on the summer trail (usually the avalanche danger is low to moderate on this route, but they climbed just after a snowstorm), and headed back. This was their second attempt in two weeks, and they missed the summit again. I met Kimberly back at the tent and then we made a stupid mistake. It seemed like a good idea to put the packs in the sleds and just push them off the steep slope and down the mountain, but unfortunately, they veered way off course and disappeared into some trees. Doh! It probably cost us two hours or so to retrieve them. After that, it was a nice walk back to the vehicle.

This was a great trip, and I rate it as my second favorite winter climb, after the Cedar Ridge of Mount Nebo.

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Winter Ascent of Deseret Peak

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