Monday, June 11, 2012

Wow, What a Week

While my mileage wasn't as high as I wanted it to be last week, it certainly was made up for by the little adventures I had. As you can read in my previous post, I had a great time climbing the south ridge of Mt Superior. That will be one of the highlights of my summer - at least until I do it again in a couple of weeks. The following day, Friday, I left work early (I had to work that night and the following morning, so it only made sense), cruised up to Alta, and targeted a run I wanted to do last year, but never got around to trying.

From the paved parking lot at the Albion lodge I ran the Summer Road up to the Cecret Lake trailhead. However, instead of following the trail I stayed on the dirt road that winds its way through the cabins and then up towards the ridge to the east. About half way up I diverted my course and made straight for the ridge, through mud, rocks, and snow. While the potential for falling was high, the danger was minimal due to the amount of snow. I would have just slid for several hundred feet and comfortably come to a halt. However, that was never an issue as I found solid footing all the way to a gap in the ridge.

Looking back down the gap and my approach from the dirt road. Steep, but manageable. 

Once through the gap I traversed west toward Devil's Castle. This peak is one of my favorites as it requires some technical 4th class climbing, but nothing really dangerous. I summited the first of the two main summits to 50 mph gusts. It was a little scary standing on top trying to take self-portraits. After only a couple of minutes I downclimbed the gap and raced up the next 4th class section to the main summit. I then quickly signed the register and started my descent. The downclimb is scary, but with careful footing it really isn't that bad. The run over to Sugarloaf is much easier than I remember. I made good time and was standing atop my second peak in just over an hour and a half from the time I started. 

Looking back at Devil's Castle from the summit of Sugarloaf

The section from Sugarloaf to Mt Baldy is one of my favorites. The trail down from Sugarloaf is rocky, but fast. Then a quick run across the ski resort upper road to the base of Mt Baldy. My favorite part is climbing the 3rd class scrambling section to the ridge. Once there it is like running in Europe across a ridgeline in the Alps. I just love it. I got to the summit of Baldy only 20 minutes after leaving Sugarloaf. After a few portraits I started my way down the north ridge.

Looking back at Sugarloaf and Devil's Castle

The north ridge is not awesome. It's a rocky scramble down a steep slope. And this time of year there is a lot of snow, so I used a resort marking pole made of bamboo as a rudder and break as I skied down the snow towards the access road below. It's not scary and something I would normally glissade, but I was in fairly tiny shorts and wasn't excited about the prospect of a scraped bottom had I slipped and slid the rest of the way down. So I took it pretty easy.

The access road allowed me to open things up a little. And other than stopping to refill my water bottle in the stream I made good time to the bottom. From there it's an easy climb back to the upper parking lot and my car. Total mileage was 8.7 with over 3000 ft of vertical climbing. Such a fun day.

Oh, and Matt Van Horn made an awesome video of our climb up Superior. Check it. So cool.

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