Winter Ascent of South Thunder

Winter Ascent of South Thunder

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 40.53270°N / 111.735°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 19, 2008
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Winter

Winter Ascent of South Thunder

The startThe start

Second HamongogSecond Hamongog

Four of us set out at 7:15 AM from Alpine, Utah at the end of Aspen Drive, elevation 5400', Dave, Lana, Michael, and myself. Our goal was the summit of South Thunder, elevation 11,154', 5.5 miles and 5700 vertical feet away. This would be my 10th trip to the summit. With nice crystal clear skies we had perfect conditions. The previous few days had been sunny and warm resulting in a nice solid crust on our southern exposure ascent.

Upper Bells RidgeUpper Bells Ridge
Box Elder PeakBox Elder Peak

Our first milestone was the "First Hamongog" a flat meadow at about 7000'. I usually take the main dirt road to get there, but my friends knew a slightly shorter way that bypasses some switchbacks. At one time you could drive all the way to the First Hamongog in the summer, but the distance you can drive has progressively gotten shorter as more and more gates have been erected across the dirt road. Now there is a gate at the very start of it and you must begin walking at the end of the pavement. We followed some tracks to just beyond the First Hamongog where they diverged from our route. It was time to put on the snowshoes.

Heading to 9680Heading to 9680


Our second milestone was the Second Hamongog, a meadow nestled at the base of the valley between Lone Peak and Upper Bells Peak. The path from the First Hamongog to the Second Hamongog is somewhat circuitous and I was glad I had gathered some GPS waypoints from a trip in August. Otherwise this section had the potential to degenerate into a nasty bushwhack through dense scrub oak. On a trip last winter the trail was completely obvious, but this year with lots more snow it was very hard to make out.


East of 10,035 bumpEast of 10,035 bump
Once past the second Hamongog the trees quickly thin out and you can see the third milestone, the ridge to Upper Bells Peak. This section was like a sliding board as Lana's sunglasses know as they took a ride down. I dove for them but came up short, almost taking a ride myself. Michael, always the gentleman, climbed down to retrieve them. We attained the ridge at about 9400' and followed it about 200' up to an obvious flat spot. Up until we gained the ridge, the snow had had a pretty nice crust to it wherever the sun had hit, but now it was starting to get a little soggy and a few good whacks to the snowshoes were occasionally necessary.

Our fourth milestone was now visible, the 9680 bump at N40 31.050 W111 44.181. There is a ridge that starts just to the NE of this bump that you follow to about 10,400'. We traversed the half mile over to the base of the bump losing some altitude in the process. By this time we were really cooking and we stopped to shed whatever clothes we could.

Upper Bells Peak and Lone PeakUpper Bells Peak and Lone Peak
Lone PeakLone Peak

We ascended the ridge to our fifth milestone, the flat spot at 10,400', traversing to the east of bump 10,035. If you dare lean over the cliffs to the east you can see Lake Hardy below. Finally, South Thunder comes into view

South ThunderSouth Thunder

Almost thereAlmost there

Lightning RidgeLightning Ridge

Summit mailboxSummit mailbox

Next we headed toward the saddle to the SE of South Thunder and reached our sixth milestone, the eastern base of the summit cone. At about 10,800 we hung a left and headed steeply up to the east ridge through a rocky area. I tried ditching the snowshoes here but ended up wallowing so I quickly gave up that idea. About another fifty feet up when the snowshoes were balling up badly enough to be unsafe, I decided to ditch them no matter what, but this time it was OK. Michael and Lana opted to put their crampons on, but Dave and I hadn't brought them and felt fine without. I heard some loud "exclamations" behind me and turned to see a small black object sailing down the hill. I hoped it wasn't anything crucial. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Dave's camera which managed to hit a rock at about 30 mph. There was no point in retrieving it then, so we picked it up on the return. Once we reached the ridge it was a little nippy and we had to put our coats back on. It was easy going to the summit our seventh and final milestone. We got there at 12:30, 5 hours and 15 minutes after we started.

Lone PeakLone Peak

North ThunderNorth Thunder

View eastView east

On the summit it was clear and sunny and there were fantastic views all around. To the southwest is Upper Bells Peak, to the west is Lone Peak, to the northeast is North Thunder blended into the Big Cottonwood ridge, to the east is American Fork Twin Peaks, Red Top, Red Baldy, and Pheifferhorn, and to the southeast is Box Elder.


Box Elder and TimpanogosBox Elder and Timpanogos

Almost doneAlmost done

Our descent took 3.5 hours bringing us back to the car by 4PM just in time to hit rush hour traffic on the way home. Snow that was rock hard on the way up was now soft which made for better knee cushioning. The few other times I've been this way in the winter the dirt road leading down from the First Hamongog has been mud soup by this time of day. In the summer this stretch is brutally hot. But today we were blessed with abundant snow cover and cool temperatures and had a pleasant walk down.

Topo of tripTopo of trip


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-10 of 10
Dmitry Pruss

Dmitry Pruss - Feb 24, 2008 11:58 pm - Voted 10/10

Great job on a TR

BTW it may be easier to add pictures with the help of Add Image -> New menu on the left. This way images are attached right away, and their map locations are more or less correct right from the start too.

Matthew Van Horn

Matthew Van Horn - Mar 3, 2008 11:52 am - Voted 10/10


You people are freakin' awesome. I wish I could have gone with you. Next year, perhaps.


seanpeckham - Mar 3, 2008 1:43 pm - Voted 10/10

cool trip!

This has been a good year for the Wasatch. For some reason I was in Canyonlands during this precious window of snow stability.

Several of your photos show a unique perspective and are a great addition to SP. Nice job.

Rob Thompson

Rob Thompson - Mar 3, 2008 9:48 pm - Voted 10/10

Fine Report

Thanks for the great photos and narrative - and an excellent map!

marauders - Mar 7, 2008 1:21 am - Voted 10/10

I loved...

...the photos. What a beautiful place in winter. Thanks for posting.


Scott - Mar 9, 2008 10:48 pm - Voted 10/10

Good job.

South Thunder in winter is quite an accomplishment for sure. Nice photos.


PocketsOfBlue - Mar 23, 2008 11:05 pm - Hasn't voted


Just did this hike today. It was awesome! Snow conditions were great, even though I wasn't on the trail until 12:45 pm! Thanks for all the descriptions and information, I got off track a couple times but it's pretty easy to find your way. I loved the alpine meadow at around 10k feet, must be really nice in the summer.

edit: I saw your ledger in the mailbox, you guys were the first (recorded) ascent since the fall, and I was the first to go up after you. Leave it up to the SPers eh?


Moogie737 - Nov 17, 2008 10:41 am - Voted 10/10

One more time

We did this trip again on 11-15-08 and when I read your report of our trip this past spring, I was startled at your accuracy. This time there wasn't as much snow, but our times were almost identical to those we logged in your report. The only advantage we enjoyed was having a recognizable trail between the two Hamongogs. Thanks again for a superb trip report.


johnplocher - Nov 11, 2012 12:48 pm - Hasn't voted


We always comment about how hard it was physically, but I've found these kinds of trips push you mentally and emotionally as well. So congrats on making it - no small feat.


ZeeJay - Nov 12, 2012 1:07 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Incredible

Thanks! I think sometimes the mental effort is more than the physical effort.

Viewing: 1-10 of 10



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