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The Wasatch 11,000ft+ Peaks and Sub-Peaks

I wanted to be a part of the Wasatch; to know its secrets. I thought if I could hit every point in the Wasatch above 11,000ft that I might know it better, that I might find a home there. This report details some of the many memories I've had as I summited the 36 Wasatch Peaks and Sub-Peaks in just over a month.

Nebo Ridge: North Peak, Nebo, Middle Nebo, South Nebo~ June 17, 2015 with Matt Williams, Matthew Van Horn, Kenzie Barlow, Chelsea Hathaway

  


 It was to be my first long ridge with both Chelsea and Kenzie, and the first time any of the 5 of us would hit any of the 4 summits. The girls and I met at the hotel room the evening before and woke up at a ridiculous 3am type time. Matthew Van Horn met us there, we were hopeful for some McDonalds but alas they don’t serve food in Provo til 5am. Another reason to hate Utah County. Fortunately we found a different McDonalds closer to the trailhead and met Matt Williams at the trailhead.

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With it being only 10 days post Bryce 100M, my legs were a little tired and we kept an easy pace. We decided to hit North Peak on the way up (since we would likely feel lazier later). We took the Nebo Bench trail and left it at the saddle after climbing through much deadfall. We followed the ridge to the summit of North Peak and the practiced the fine art of fell running down the meadow to the saddle below the Nebo summit. The hike up was steep and pleasant, minor patches of snow without much intrusion on the trail.




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We’d been advised to favor the left (East) side of the ridge heading to Middle Nebo and the right (West) side of the ridge towards South Nebo. Getting to Middle Nebo was merely a stiff hike, and the adventure to South Nebo involved kicking in steps, scree, and a bit of scrambling as we traversed the ridge. We went back the way we came, moving quicker across the “Moki Steps” we’d made and familiar with the line. We glissaded down from Nebo and cut down earlier from North peak, “skiing” down to the trail and saving more time. Nebo ridge was fun, an “easier” technical ridge, and incredibly aesthetic. Little did I know this was the start of the 11ers…

 

Cottonwood Ridge: Broads Fork East Twin, Sunset, Jeppson’s, Dromdary, “Gary”-Unnamed(s), Monte Cristo, Superior ~ June 27, 2015 with Matthew Van Horn and Aaron Williams

It was the start of WURL. The cottonwood ridge is easily one of the best lines in the Wasatch. It’s one of my happy places. I’ll let the photos do the talking.


  
 Super Beat-Out: Sugarloaf, Baldy, AF Twins, Red Stack, Red Baldy, White Baldy, Pfeifferhorn, Upwop, S. Thunder, Upper Bells, Lone ~ June 28, 2015 with Matthew Van Horn (and some portions with Aaron Williams and Chelsea Hathaway)

Again this is part of WURL, with more write-up on that available on the TAUR report. I’ll let the photos do the talking…



  
  
South Timpanogos, Timpanogos ~ July 3rd, 2015 with Aaron Williams, Matt Williams, Chelsea Hathaway, DJ Loertchester (with appearances by Matthew Van Horn, Kendall Wimmer, Davy Crockett, and a ton of other Wasatch Mountain Wranglers…)

 


Hi. So if you don’t know this already, I’m terribly shy with those I don’t know. The annual run up Mt Timp causes me to lose sleep, because there’s all these people… So I had a brilliant idea to hit Timpanogos early, scurry over and get S Timp, and then be at the parking lot for the BBQ and chatter. Going up to Timp was full of fun and laughter, anytime Chelsea and DJ and I get together weird words are about to be exchanged. I had fun braiding a bouquet into my hair, and once on the summit we were all sad we didn’t eat dinner. We started the traverse over to South Timp, managing to ignore Nate Younger’s instructions to follow the low trail. We found the handy little downclimb made more exciting by moths in fleets attacking our faces. Davy Crocket was en route to summit the 8 highest points in Utah County, and we met up off and on with his group. The moon was rather spectacular. The summit of S Timp Davy shared burritos with us (the sacred burrito bond!). The extroverts decided to go back to the Timp summit to find friends (DJ and Aaron) and the introverts wanted to avoid the masses and get back down the cars sooner. We proceed to sled on our butts down S Timp for 45 minutes (i.e. until we all had numb parts, scratches, etc…) It ended up I had a lovely time meeting new Wranglers and catching up with old.


  
North Timpanogos Ridge: Unnamed(s), Bomber, North Timpanogos ~ July 8, 2015 with Chelsea Hathaway, Ben Light, and Jen R.

This was a bad idea that was simultaneously a brilliant idea. Chelsea and I had this great idea to get more sleep before our 4am start—let’s sleep in my ultra van at the trailhead! But we had enjoy chatting with each other enough that closer to 2am we realized maybe we actually weren’t going to get more sleep… When we woke up groggy and disheveled, with me trying to get coffee in my system as quickly as possible… Chelsea realizes she forgot her trail running shoes.


I’m not joking here. She has flip flops on. Seriously. I am a size 6 shoe, she is an 11. So none of my extra pairs had a chance for her… Fortunately Ben Light decided to show up and had an extra pair of shoes to loan to Chelsea. The four of us headed up to the saddle for a brilliant sunrise. Jen had been thinking of summiting Timp but we laid the peer pressure on pretty thick and she decided to join our excursion on the North Timp ridge. This ridge has to be the easiest ridge above 10k in the Wasatch. It’s mostly exposed compacted scree, with an intermittent trail and only a few 3rd class moves. The exposure feels more than it is, you’d have to try to tumble off the side of it. We cut down on the South side of Bomber and passed some mountain goats on our way back to the trail. With a rain storm blowing in, the lighting was spectacular and the fields were lit up with the best display of wildflowers I’ve ever seen on Timp. My sleep deprivation started to hurt about here…


  
  

Box Elder ~ July 12, 2015 with Brian Rowser, Chelsea Hathaway, DJ Loertchester, Cait Morgan, and Ben Light

A last minute, late night run up Box Elder using trail 043 instead of 044. Lots of jokes I thought were funny (what else is new?) and, much to Brian's dismay, we didn't run to a lake, we ran up a mountain.

 

Bastard ~ July 14, 2015 (solo)

Remember how I have bad ideas? Well, I do. A couple days prior I realized I could hit all the 11ers and sub peaks in a month instead of a summer if I crammed all the last ones in during a week. I wasn’t feeling well and hit snooze 10 times but my husband (who was supportive of this goal) literally pushed me out of bed reminding me I’d regret it if I didn’t get up and go.


With much sighing I drug my tired body to the trailhead, leaving there 30 minutes later than I had hoped, but I also ran the peak 30 minutes faster than I expected so it all worked out. I found this to be lovely, runnable, and full of wild animals. I saw a rather large fox, bull moose, and heard a kitty cat that wasn’t psyched for our sunrise salutation.

North Thunder ~ July 16, 2015 with Matthew Van Horn

You know, I’m often told going up Coalpit and going down Bells in the dark are two of the crummiest lines in the Wasatch. So, what the hell, why not link them?


  
  
 We had planned the run for evening before, but I ended up coming down with the stomach flu and bailing out last minute. The next day I still wasn’t feeling well, battling the stomach issues again at lunch time. When Matthew texted asking if I’d be game to meet him at the trail head in 45minutes (knowing I was still a bit sick) I surprised us both and said, sure!

  


 Going up Coalpit isn’t about the waterfalls. It’s about the thickets of stinging nettle and raspberry bushes and thorns everywhere. But that upper bowl… I wanted to cry with happiness when we hit the boulder field, finally free of the schwack. Heading up towards the ridge I came upon a mountain goat carcass, and took a minute to think of the goat and all it did and send vibes of gratitude out for its life. When we got onto the North Thunder ridge the Wasatch rewarded us~ dark storms covered all the other ridges but left ours alone, and a neon red sun set lit up the sky. Gleeful like little kids we laughed and took pictures and smiled into the sunset like it could smile back.

From the summit we talked about the Wasatch Legends who taught Matthew all he had learned, and how he has passed a lot of that knowledge to me, and how one day I hope to pass it on again. With the last glimpses of light we scoped our line, deciding to drop off of North Thunder following a gully to the pond below, skirting the trees beside it on the east side, which should send us off towards the Bells Cleaver pass, where we’d go up and over that and (hopefully) shoot right over the Upper Bells Reservoir. This route is easy to get lost on in daylight, and we were so grateful to have nailed it perfectly in utter darkness.


 Provo-East Provo ~ July 17, 2015 with Chelsea Hathaway

This was to be the final bit of my Wasatch 11ers project! I slept 2 hours after North Thunder and dressed to meet Chelsea. We were both disappointed with the easy summit of Provo Peak (though we took our time determining we were at the right trailhead since neither of us actually knew what Provo Peak looked like… haha). The ridge to East Provo was obscenely unpleasant as it was a crumbling pile of scree. Everthing we stepped on seemed to disappear down the mountain side. Miserable and dangerous are often different, and it wasn’t a scary ridge at all… We made light of the situation with conversation and made slow work getting to East Provo. On the summit I was elated! My goal of the Wasatch 11ers from June 17-July 17 was a reality! …or so I thought.


  
 West AF Twin ~ July 24, 2015 with DJ Loertchester

The afternoon before Matthew Van Horn mentions to me….”You know, you didn’t hit the East Twin during WURL. I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but…” My heart sank. I had forgotten about that. I had a flicker of anger, Why didn’t he tell me this a week ago? I would’ve done it! which was followed by an even worse thought, Well, no one but Matthew would know… I know, I know. I’m human. Both thoughts were replaced by a pit in my stomach. I hadn’t completed the goal I had set out to complete.


I decided to go hit it the following morning. It would be a 37 day completion rather than a 30 day completion. I did my best to turn the negative into a positive—I had to let go of something I couldn’t change. The Wasatch 11ers was for me, was my project… and I wasn’t going to lie about it. I wasn’t going to resent the opportunity for another brilliant morning in the Wasatch.

DJ met me painfully early and we set off for his first real scrambly ridge in the Wasatch. It was a pleasant morning. I hollered from the top of the East Twin. Illnesses, life, sleep deprivation, and finally the feeling of failure had all tried to prevent me from summiting each Wasatch 11,000+ peak and sub peak but I had hit them all.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The purpose of the project wasn’t to prove anything to anyone else—it was to prove something to me. To prove to myself that I could handle the rough ridges of the Wasatch. That I can move quickly and efficiently through high consequence terrain. To prove I had a place in the Wasatch.

But really the project was less of a project and more of a romance. The more of the Wasatch I discovered, the more I fell in love with it, the more I wanted to linger in its high places. I learned I belong up there. I’ve always struggled with confidence and fitting in… but up high on mountain terrain, I have an overwhelming sense of belonging. It is where I fit in, where this misfit is a master, where home is a feeling I can take back to the valley with me. The Wasatch 11er project, more than anything I’ve done, has changed me. For the first time, I have an inkling of confidence—I feel I can call myself a Wasatch Peak Bagger now.

Comments

  1. Amazing;) so inspirational and witty!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a great thing to read, I am in love with your words! This is inspiring for me as I start what could be my biggest passion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome write up Jennilyn! A great read, your ability to transport the reader to your experience really is fantastic. I just came upon your website after listening to the RunMo podcast, well done, very good stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love this! I summited all 36 in a summer but to do it in a month is really a feat!! Love your posts! Keep up the amazing adventures:)

    ReplyDelete

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