Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hikeblogging: Twin Peaks, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Yesterday I did what turned out to be the most difficult hike I've ever tried (outside of the Marines): Twin Peaks in the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City.

The lower portion of the trail is relatively easy and winds through the forest until you reach the main basin. From here you can see your goal. I originally wanted to climb Dromedary Peak (far left) but after seeing how steep it was on the sides I decided to try Twin Peaks (second from right).

The trail soon disappears and you hike through meadows and open spaces of loose rocks. From this picture it looks as if Twin Peaks is not that far away, but even though it's only about another 3/4 miles you still have about 1,500 feet of elevation to climb, as I would soon find out.

I finally made it to the top after slowly climbing up the steep rock face. In the distance to the south you can see Mount Timpanogos. This view is from East Twin, at 11,330 feet. West Twin, just another quarter mile to the west of this point is 11,328 feet. I was too tired to try and bag both in one day.

After consulting my topo map, I determined that descending the north face of the mountain would be just as difficult as going back down the way I came up on the south face. Besides, there appeared to be a decent trail leading down from the top. I followed it, and found out it wasn't a human trail, it was a game trail. One used by mountain goats, like the two in the center of this picture.

I began to realize that mountain goats tend to live in places that humans can't easily get to. Sure enough, as I continued my descent I noticed that the ridgeline down into the canyon was made up of bare, potentially slick outcrops of shale, with stair-like miniature cliffs about 10-20 high. In other words, I was trapped unless I found a route down. I eventually found a very steep couloir and I carefully picked my way down, almost causing a rockslide once or twice and losing my jacket in the process. But I finally made it down and lived to blog about it.

In consulting my copy of Veranth's Hiking the Wasatch I found out later that I had descended by a route known as the Robinson Variation, meaning that some guy named Robinson was crazy enough to go up that way. As for me, I'm proud I made it to the top, but I'm not going to try that hike again for a while.



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