Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nebo Traverse

Nebo Traverse and Loop

My two must-do ridge traverses of the summer were Timp and Nebo. I ticked Timp off a couple weeks ago so it was time for Nebo, which was inspired by the Brackelsberg clan. I recruited Court and Pete for the adventure, despite Court's horrible experience at Speedgoat the week prior and Pete's need to be back for a soccer game at 6 and his general whatever attitude to gear and training for events like these. I think he ran like 10 miles one time in the previous 3 months before his Buffalo 50 finish.

We headed up the southeast side of the mountain via Andrew's Ridge starting around 7:30. It was pretty standard steep hiking affair that was hotter and brushier than we would have preferred. We hit the ridge after about 9 am and enjoyed the breeze present up there. The ridgeline was fantastic and really felt more alpine than you would expect in Utah.
Heading up Andrews Ridge

Court enjoying some scree alpine trail

Really cool area. South Summit visible ahead

We traversed along mostly 3rd class terrain  from the south summit to the middle to the highest North Summit in a quick :30 where a larger than expected congregation of folks gathered. Not a Timp gathering for sure, but at least 50 people were found heading up or down the shorter North Ridge approach.  We ran down to the saddle then slogged off trail up North Peak and then down the nice trail to the parking area at Monument Trailhead.
Sloggin up the South Summit

Enjoying some testy 3rd class choss

Pete carried in his hand the entire way this whole bag of lays potato chips. "you need to have easy access for good nutrition". We need to get you a race vest my friend. 

Inspiring mountain

 At this point we were all pretty low on water 5 hours in, but Pete was essentially out. We were planning on retrieving water from streams and springs along our return trip via the Nebo Bench Trail, but were not confident when those options(if any) would occur. Pete asked a 4 wheeler dude for any extra liquid and was graciously given a plastic bottle of water. So he had at least 12 oz for the next 12 miles in the 90 degree heat. We rested in the shade of the bathroom before departing.
Running down North summit before heading up North Peak

One minute down the trail we found a cattle trough that was full of sewage looking water with a dead bird in it, but the entry feeding pipe was dripping some clean stuff so we took advantage of that and spent 10 minutes filling up our bottles, again not knowing what lied ahead. As luck would have it, 5 minutes after that we hit a fat stream which allowed for a quick and easy fillup. And for further stress relief we found 10-12 other plentiful spots to fill up all along the Nebo Bench trail. These seem fairly reliable even in late July.
Pete and I swore that bird was alive. It kept twitching.  Either way we decided death by dehydration was a better choice. 

Court is trying out for the remake of Sound of Music

Court and I wore matching blue shorts and green shirts, just like these two fast guys below. Too bad we aren't sponsored. 
Mike Wolfe and Hal Korner on their FKT of John Muir Trail. They asked us for wardrobe ideas. 

When you can see the Bench Trail is really is quite cool. 

Other than Court having a headache we were all doing quite well considering the mileage and vert thus far, so we plotted along south back toward Andrew's Ridge. The Nebo Bench trail is fantastic in quality for the first half, then gradually gets worse and worse till it is basically nonexistent at the junction with Andrew's Ridge, which would make it quite tough to locate if doing this loop counterclockwise. My only description of this junction is that it is basically near the top of the trail where a large gash occurs in a white sand dune like feature with a limestone cliff directly above it. Not marked at all.
Towards the south end the Bench Trail disappears but these markers keep you in the right vicinity

We began the quad bashing descent back to the car and finished hot and tired. We took a dip in the 12" deep stream to wash off and then hit Panda on the way home. Another really cool alpine ridge run close to home. Really want to visit Colorado in the future to try some of the endless alpine stuff that state has to offer. Telluride in 2 weeks!

Stats: 24.5 miles, 9500' vert, 8:20 hours. Its 13 miles from Andrew's Ridge to the Monument TH via the ridgeline, than 12 miles back along the Nebo Bench. The majority of the climbing is obviously in the first half but the Bench trail from North to South on the way back has quite a few climbs and downs and overall gains elevation back to the junction with Andrews Ridge, so don't expect an easy 12 miles. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Timp Traverse

I'm pretty sure everyone in Utah ages 6-85 has hiked Timpanogos at least once in their lifetime, or at least it seems that way on a given summer Saturday. Everyone from cub scouts in their sneakers to old badgers in their flannel shirts flock to either of the standard approaches to the 2nd highest peak in the Wasatch range. I have summited Timp somewhere in the 5-10 range, once in winter. My meager ascents pale in comparison to the likes of Davy Crockett or Phil Lowry who have hundreds of ascents. I personally find this idea somewhat ludicrous as there are hundreds of peaks in Utah to summit, but hey, to each his own. It certainly a magnificent place. 

With the Hardrock 100 happening this weekend, it inspired me to do something cool. I decided leaving my beautiful wife and new child at home was the correct thing to do. They were both supportive. 
This poor child

I have wanted to do the Timp traverse for sometime, first introduced to me by Mr Hardrock JC on his website. I'm sure its done fairly regularly by the ultrarunning/serious hiker crowd, though I'm not sure how exactly most people accomplish the task as the north end doesn't have a trail to it, but I certainly enjoy as pure a traverse as possible, meaning no out and backs. This means hiking the standard trail to the saddle, then traversing North, then traversing back South is not acceptable. I decided to approach it from the North via the Cold Fusion couloir.  but if you aren't a backcountry skier its likely this couloir is unknown to you, but basically it is a fairly obvious and massive couloir on the direct north face of North Timp. No trail, just steep talus and dirt with the occasional cliffband. 

Caveat: I am not as hardcore nor as pure as Jared, obviously, who started lower at the Bear Canyon trailhead(more vert), went up the Grunge(scarier,steeper) and actually traversed all the way to Sundance(didn't even occur to me), then did Nebo after(what?). I stopped after south timp. My excuse is I had a deadline to be back by 1 pm and no shuttle. But nothing I do is Jared worthy so why do I even bother justifying? 

I parked on the Timpanogos road about 6 am after finding the Timpanokee trailhead swarming with the usual Saturday crowd. After emptying my bowels, I followed the road as it traversed around the North side of the range, but unfortunately blew right past the entrance to the couloir as I usually cut up too soon on these type of routes. Heinous bushwacking ensued on my regurgitated attempt, but luckily I gained the couloir proper after only 15 minutes of Jackie Channing the wet foliage. 
Morning sun on North Timp

Cold Fusion approach

I summited North Timp around 8:30, 6.5 miles in. The traverse across the ridge to South Timp was outstanding. There was actually some resemblance of a trail and actual running occurred. I thought it was one of the best traverses I've done. Any traverse in the Cottonwood or Millcreek ranges seem to be either horrible jungle schwaking or slow 4th class talus. This had some slow 4th class for sure, but plenty of bomber trail. My Cascadia's did a horrible job on this type of technical terrain. I'd give them a 2/10 rating. I have been unable to find a more technical shoe that I enjoy since destroying my mesh clad Wildcats, so that's I all had. This section would have been 11/10 had I been shod in some good shoes. 
Always pretty wildflowers in Timp basin 

Me and the goats on the traverse past North Timp

Ridgeline to North Timp

My favorite part of the day was after the true summit running towards the glacier 

View back towards the true summit 
Tons of mountain goats out

Summited Mt Timp around 9:30, then continued onto south summit Timp. An unfortunate minor backtrack here was required, then glissaded down to Emerald Lake, traversed back up to the saddle, then road the ride that is the Timpanokee trail all the way back to the car with a short road section at the end. Fantastic! 

19.3 miles
5: 14 CTC