TRIP REPORT: Mount Nebo (11,929′)

Mount Nebo is the highest peak in the Wasatch Range in Utah. It’s located about 2 hours south of Salt Lake City near the town of Payson. It is a beautiful but challenging climb.

The trail starts out pretty mild and has a great view of North peak as you ascend. The trail is full of wildflowers and down trees. Navigating around the trees is fairly easy. The first mile and a half is the easiest part.

Once you arrive to the open meadow and cirque, the trail steepens as you head to the ridge.

As you top out on the ridge of North Peak, the trail leads around to the backside and flattens out as you work your way to the other side to the saddle.

Once you arrive at the saddle, the false peak stands in front of you. You can see the roue and the top of the false summit. Its pretty steep but straight forward.

Now for the tricky part. The summit ridge. This ridge is made of very sharp limestone and slippery shale. Gloves are highly recommended! There are no cairns or markers to mark a single solid trail. You can see what appears to be a path to the summit but it is actually pretty difficult to navigate as multiple paths exist but some dead end. I found the most direct route was to stay as close to the ridge line as possible. If you get too far below the ridge, the amount of shale increases and this rock is incredibly slippery.

The visible “path” ends approximately 100 feet below the summit. This part is rates as a class 3 scramble and it can be a little unnerving as you are trying to grab rock and hope that it’s solid and not loose shale. This was the point I actually turned around as I was climbing solo. I wasn’t sure where the recommended scramble path was since there are no markers or cairns and it was my first time on this mountain and did not feel comfortable being alone on the slippery rocks trying to figure it out.

This ridge was the MOST time consuming part of the climb. I made it to the top of the false summit. The ridge is only a half mile and it took me an hour and a half to navigate. Coming down, the shale is VERY slippery so keep that in mind. Stepping on solid rock is always better if you can. Poles aren’t super helpful on this ridge but they are on the way down the steep false summit.

Overall expect to spend 6-9 hours on this mountain depending on how fast you are. Like I mentioned, the ridge is the most time consuming part. Give yourself a turn around time. Many people just go up to the false summit to start. Start early, as there is NO shade from the base of the false summit onward.

Overall a gorgeous mountain! Definitely one to check off the list. I will be back to finish that last 100 feet! 😉

TRIP REPORT: Cardiff Peak, UT (10,277′) – Snow Climb

Report from 4/5/17

Spring is FINALLY here, and I am on Spring Break!

I couldn’t wait to get out and do some climbing. I had been hiking pretty regularly at lower elevations since things had warmed up, but I had been dying to hike and climb in the snow. bad weather nearly every weekend made it difficult with student teaching, so after a nice cold front came through and stiffened up all the snow, I figured I had to get out on the hill while I had the chance!

My first choice for my first big training climb of the season was Mount Superior at 11,132′ but as you will read, that did not go according to plan, which happens. Superior is known in Utah for having the most avalanche activity so winter ascents can only really be attempted in prime conditions.

Superior overlooks both Alta and Snowbird Ski Resorts from the other side of Little Cottonwood Canyon. I have climbed it during summer months, the East ridge from Cardiff pass is rated a class 2. Starting from Alta, it is about a 5 1/2 mile hike round trip with an elevation gain of around 2500ft.

My original plan was to get up at 6:30, and start hiking by 7:30 in the morning. …I did not sleep well last night so by the time my alarms went off, I did not want to get up…. I woke up at around 8, checked the temperature up the canyon to find temperatures were still below freezing, so I left and started hiking just before 9am. Right off the bat, the snow was icy and firm. I kept up what I like to call “dry speed” which is the speed in which I can hike on dry dirt trail, so I compare my speed to my past summer climbs.

As I got to Cardiff pass and started up the ridge, the snow was INCREDIBLY soft. I would step and sink into thigh deep powder and my climbing speed basically came to a crawl. It took me 45 minutes to climb 250 vertical feet…. it was frustrating. Every step forward was a step backward. As I came up near the summit of Cardiff Peak, I took one look at Superior and sighed. I had a mile left…. a very long mile. Looking along the ridge, it seemed to be the same powdery deep frustrating snow I had just been trudging through and I would take me an eternity. The temperature was rising quickly, I was running out of time as well before I needed to be home, so I turned off the ridge trail to climb the final 20 feet to the summit of Cardiff instead. Superior or bust? Definitely a bust… but not a complete loss.

I still got a great “first climb of the season” workout, and great pictures of the amazing views from Cardiff.

Plenty more training climbs to come this Spring. ‘Til next time!