June 27, 2010

Red Baldy

Andrea and I on the summit of Red Baldy

Date: June 27, 2010
Distance: ~9 miles
Vertical: 4100 feet
Time: 5.5 hours
Peaks: Red Baldy (11,171 feet)
Route: White Pine Lake trail to base of NW slopes, Snow climb up NW face, descend part of N ridge to lower-angle snow, glissade back to White Pine Trail.
Crew: Andrea and Jake

After yesterday's adventure we wanted to get out for another climb, but Andrea had some restrictions: 1) Not too long of an approach (3-4 miles), 2) Snow climb almost all the way to the summit, 3) No sketchy downclimbing on loose rocks, and 4) Be home by 2pm. I had seen a nice climbing line on Red Baldy the day before from the top of Sunrise Peak that I felt would meet the bill, using the White Pine Lake approach.

We set off from the trailhead around 7:15am and made really great time up the great trail to the basin below Red & White Baldy. The line we scouted appeared to be in almost all the way to the top, so we donned crampons, pulled out the ice axes, and got climbing. The snow was surprisingly firm (it got a real good freeze the night before despite the hot temps in SLC) and steep towards the top. After a little over 1000' feet of snow climbing, we made the final scramble up the summit and we rewarded with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the Great Salt Lake. The snow was still too firm to glissade the steep part of the climb, so we walked down the summer trail for a bit under we found a more mellow angle slope for the glissade. The hike out was quick and painless, and we were home well before 2pm. Mission accomplished!

Hiking up in the morning

About to start the snow climb

The couloir we climbed up

Andrea climbing

The Great Salt Lake in the distance

Mt. Timpagogos

Summit panoramic

Snickers time before the descent

Andrea with some of the mountains we climbed yesterday (all the way to the left) behind her

Andrea glissading

Glissading in shorts = not a great idea!

Our route went up the first obvious snow gully to the left

Heading back to the trailhead

Our route

Dromedary to Sunrise Traverse

Andrea on the summit of Dromedary Peak

Date: June 25-26, 2010
Distance: ~10-11 miles
Vertical: ~6500 feet
Time: Overnight
Peaks: Dromedary Peak (11,107 feet), Sunrise Peak (11,275 feet)
Route: Mill B South trail to high camp above Lake Blanche, Snow climb and mixed scramble up NE face of Dromedary Peak, ridgeline traverse to Sunrise Peak, traverse W ridge to Sunrise-Twin Peaks saddle, glissade into Broads Fork, snow climb back up to gain N ridge of Dromedary, glissade the morning ascent route on NE face.
Crew: Andrea and Jake

With the temperature in the valley pushing high 90s, and a trip to Colorado coming up next week, we decided a high camp and some snow climbing / scrambling was in order for this weekend. We headed up the Mill B South / Lake Blanche trail on Friday afternoon, setting up camp above Lake Lillian and Lake Florence in an absolutely perfect location.

The plan for Saturday was the attempt the "triple traverse," a classic Wasatch ridgerun. After a great snow climb up Dromedary's NE face, we ran into lots of loose rock on the scramble below the summit (Maroon Bells broken dinnerplate type rock). The traverse from Dromedary to Sunrise Peak offered lots of very exposed class 3 scrambling, with the occasional class 4 move when we got off-route. After summiting Sunrise Peak, we started to make our way towards Broads Fork Twin Peaks, but only got as far as the saddle before making the decision to bail on the rest of the route. The scrambling was difficult on the loose rocks, and therefore was taking a long time. Rather than repeat our route back to Dromedary, we glissaded down into Broads Fork, then climbed the snowfields back to Dromedary's North ridge, where we were able to glissade our ascent route from the morning. After packing up camp, it was back down the Lake Blanche trail (much more pleasant than the Bells Canyon trail) to the trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

This was Andrea's first snow climb (she's hooked, now!), and doing a camping gear shakedown was a great exercise for our upcoming (bigger and longer) trips this summer.

Lake Blanche Trail

The Sundial

Perfect camping spot on Friday night

Our campsite below Dromedary Peak's North face

Sun falling to the West

Sundial watching over us at bedtime

Saturday morning: the route up Dromedary Peak

Andrea putting on her new crampons

Summer snowclimb!

Hitting some steep parts

The peak is farther away than it looks!

Andrea doing some scrambling below the summit

Hitting the top

Excited to be done with one of our objectives for the day!

The very approximate route up to Sunrise Peak

It was steep and exposed

On the summit of Sunrise, looking towards Twin Peaks

Sunrise summit with Little Cottonwood Canyon behind me

We eyed this route on Red Baldy that ended up being our climb the next day

Traversing below the Sunrise - Twin Peaks saddle

Up on the ridge, looking for an entrance to the bowl for glissading

Andrea downclimbing some steep snow

The route back up from Broads Fork to the N ridge of Dromedary

Taking a break before our last glissade

Having fun now!

A last look at Dromedary

Our approximate route

Lake Florence

Lake Lillian

June 21, 2010

Thunder Mountains Traverse

On the summit of South Thunder Mountain

Date: June 20, 2010
Distance: ~13-14 miles
Vertical: ~7000 feet gained
Time: ~11 hours
Peaks: South Thunder Mountain (11,154 feet), North Thunder Mountain (11,150 feet)
Route: Bells Canyon to upper reservoir to Bells-Cleaver saddle, north ridge to S.Thunder summit, Thunder Bowl (Class 4) ridge to N.Thunder summit, glissade descent of west couloir to Thunder Bowl basin, re-climb to Bells-Cleaver saddle, follow Bells Canyon back out
Crew: Jake, Andrea, Bradley

This was our first big Wasatch excursion and it was an instant classic. The Thunder Mountains are seen from all over Salt Lake City, but rarely climbed due to the fact that its simply a long, hard day to get them both. Andrea and I were lucky enough to hike and climb with Bradley, a Wasatch Mountain Club veteran. He taught us a lot about route-finding and climbing the classic routes in this area.

We started at the Bells Canyon trailhead just after 6am. It took about 3 hours to hike the 5+ miles up to the upper reservoir. That's when the fun started. We had some mixed scrambling and snow traversing until we reached the Bells-Cleaver saddle, then followed the ridge up to the South Thunder summit. The ridge was a combination of climbing on consolidated snow and class 3 scrambling with awesome exposure and unbelievable 360 degree views. It only got better from there... after reaching the summit of South Thunder, we backtracked a little bit until we hit the connecting ridge to North Thunder. This was a super fun mile-long ridge that included a handful of class 4 moves. Andrea handled her first long ridge traverse and class 4 climbing like an absolute champion (this was the longest ridge "run" I had ever done as well). From North Thunder, we found a nice couloir to glissade, then climbed back up to the saddle, and hiked down the 5-6 mile "beatout" to the car. Towards the bottom, we got held up for a while as paramedics were hauling out a guy who had taken a fall at some waterfalls and broken his legs (story). Tough week for the Bells Canyon trail, as earlier in the week a guy was stabbed on this trail!

I've had some amazing days in the mountains over the past couple years, but this one immediately goes on the short list of the best. It was a challenging but very fun route, one that is seldom traveled and peaks that are rarely climbed because of the commitment required to reach them. The weather and conditions were perfect; not a cloud in the sky, and the snow was perfectly consolidated (very limited post-holing). Bradley was an excellent guide - he set a nice pace and taught us a lot about the area. And finally and most importantly, it was just awesome to complete a route like that with Andrea. Major kudos to you for this one babe! You killed it! And actually, the best part might have been that we were in such a calorie deficit by the end of the day that we got to have ice cream, mac & cheese, and then ice cream again when we got home!

The area of interest relative to SLC

Our approximate route

Crossing the stream in Bells Canyon

Teamwork = dry feet!

Reaching the Bells-Cleaver saddle with Lone Peak behind

Attack stance?

Another great view of Lone Peak

Starting the hike up the ridge to South Thunder

Andrea and Bradley making their way up

Andrea working her way across the ridge

Every move resulted in more and more views like this

HIGH above SLC

On the big boulders just below South Thunder's summit

Panoramic shot from South Thunder, with some important peaks labeled

About 1/3 of the way into the traverse, with some of the route and the crux wall labeled

Andrea working across the snow below the ridgeline. We downclimbed a bit to bypass a class 5 section of the ridge.

Bradley kicking steps back up to the ridge

Climbing a super-fun little pitch about halfway across the traverse

Andrea and I working the ridge

Andrea working her way across

Thunder Bowl from above

Bradley and I starting the 4th class crux wall

Helping Andrea on the first move of the crux wall

Working the last move of the crux wall

Andrea pulling herself up over the final move on the crux wall... some serious exposure here!

On the ridge, nearing the summit

Andrea on the North Thunder summit

A look back at a lot of the route once we reached the Cleaver saddle (bottom-right)

Andrea looking up Little Cottonwood Canyon towards Alta & Snowbird

North Thunder summit

Glissading on perfect snow down the west couloir

Andrea and I glissading

Glissading is a nice reward and easier on the legs

Our glissade route in yellow and then hike across the basin in red

At the botton of Thunder Bowl

Thunder Bowl from below

Looking back up Bells Canyon a few hours later, almost back at the trailhead