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 

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