observations on gear, adventure, and the world


Lone Peak: Third Time Not a Charm

This attempt at Lone Peak was live-ish blogged on 12 October 2011, and updated to include more details that my frozen thumbs could handle.

It’s two days after I crested the west ridge above the Lone Peak Cirque. In years of trying. Years of picking the wrong day, not reading enough about the route. Bringing too much. Having too little time. Hiking up the wrong drainage. Reading blogs from old farts who had made it up there while I was coming back empty handed. I was there. I was looking into the Cirque at last. I was at 9600′ and I had come farther than ever before to fall short.

The climb, as I’ve noted before went well until about 8500′ feet, when the Jacob’s Ladder trail met the Draper Ridge trail and the trail left the southern aspect that had been keeping my feet dry and warm all day.  I’m quite proud of how fast I climbed in my 16oz Merrill Trail glaves, but I was unprepared for how deep the snow was once I left the south facing trail. The snow had buried the trail and even the carrons. I spent three hours post-holing around, climbing to the ridge and searching for the carrons. My feet lost feeling soon after I left the Jacob’s trail. My Asolo’s likely fared only slightly better than the Merrell’s I really needed my 4 lb Vasques and snow shoes.

My feet lost feeling around noon. By about three PM I was looking into the stormy cirque. I had thought it wise to turn around several times and had climbed exposed granite to see if I could get a better view of the trail. But now it was time. So I did.

My toes still feel numb. 48 hours later.


This photo is from the top of the ridge looking east into the cirque. There seems to be a bit of weather over there.

At this point my feet had been without feeling for hours and I was out of calories, but I was riding an incredible wave of stoke from getting to this point! After quite a battle with reason up on the ridge (that’s sort of like a Phish quote) I turned around.

Next time I’m bringing my vasques and arctyrex pants for the climb if there’s any snow… and maybe my snow shoes… or skis

Here is my Suunto’s account of the experiance:


Lone peak: 2:30

8000 feet. Still sweating and sockless in the Merrell Trail Glove.

Terraces built by the CCC in AF Canyon to the South and East of me.

Deeper snow covering the trail so it was time to switch shoes.

The barefoot/minimalist shoe movement deserves some comment in the future, but today I felt the difference as soon as I switched shoes. When I pulled on my Asolo approach shoes I lost all of the sensitivity that had been helping me move so quickly on the steep loose terrain. Now I was loosing energy sliding around on the thick soles. The thin sole of the Trail Glove creates a very stable walking surface on uneven terrain.

Steep terrain, increased snow.

Need to learn more about this dome-like Rock structure to the East of Lone Rock

Lone peak shrouded in clouds.

Lone Peak IV: The Jacob’s Ladder Trail

A good map, skyline and compass... well and the skills to use them.

About thirty minutes after reaching the Ghost Falls TH I topped out on the loop that mountain bikers do when they say they are riding Jacob’s Ladder, at 6250′ Jacob’s was just getting started! I took a quick break for some water and calories and then got back after it. Now with two poles as the going got steeper. I’d been in my merino wool shirt since I cached the bike, but the wind picked up while I was stopped and I started to get cold so out came the nano puff for the next few minutes while I got warm again. The wool shirt was comfy still but soaked so I tied it to the pack to see if I could get it to dry a bit. I was throwing off so much water that I had something drying back there for the rest of the day!

Getting warm with the Nano and the Bala

The Girl saw this picture and had two questions, “why do you look so sad?” and “why do you have pants on your head?”

I’m not sad I’m cold and I’m loving how the Nano Puff Pullover is taking care of that. That’s not pants it’s a balakava at half staff!

I’ve got a lost to say about gear from this trip that I’ll save, but I’ve got some jems!


The going here got steep… ladder steep.

I lucked into this map on del interwebos and with it’s clear trail markings and more focused size it proved more helpful for routefinding that my national geographic map. This is simply because it’s smaller focus allowed greater detail.

Lone Peak II: The Approach

Rolled out of the house in Midvale (for you out of towners that’s sort of by the canyon where they keep Snowbird) on my trusty steed: SS Specialized Crux. HAmmer time! I wanted to get on the route ASAHP so I rode hard to Draper where I locked the bike in a thicket of pin oak about 100 m from the Andy Ballard Equestrian center trailhead.

I’d like to point out here that everyone else who has written about climbing lone peak isn’t a mountain biker and doesn’t know about Ghost Hollow trail that goes straight to the Jacob’s ladder trail head. I’m a mountain biker so I know. I walked up enjoying the trail just, starting into fall color, at a much slower speed than normal. Ghost is a great descent so most of it is a blur. 50 minutes later I was at the Jacob’s Ladder TH. Feeling great and ready for the real work to come.

Gear Notes: The Trail Glove was simply FUn to wear on this section. The soft soil and roots were great to walk on. I found myself only using one of the Leki khumbu’s on this section because the grade is tempered by switchbacks.

Lone Peak Assault Part I: Gear

The Girl and I have set out to summit this peak from the Alpine, UT side twice and both times had to pull the plug. The route-finding and packing mistakes we made have been very valuable on other trips over the last five years but the peak has really captured my imagination.

The mistakes were:

(1) Packing too much.

(2) Not knowing where we were going.

So after five years of learning here is what I’m bringing (I’ll sort of divide this into systems):

Checklist time!

(1) Footware, Pack and Poles:
two pairs of Smartwool medium weight hiking socks.
Shoes:Merrell Trail Glove
Asolo Approach ShoesI’m testing the Trail Gloves on this route in October conditions. We had snow above 7000′ this weekend and rain forcasted for the afternoon. 
Pack: Osprey Flap Jack Pack 25l.
Poles: Leki Khumbu
Other: I’m riding my bike to the trailhead from my house so you’ll see a cable lock, helmet and specialized mtb shoes in the frame as well. 

(2)Food and Shelter:

Water: 4l of Water in an MSR Dromedary, one  16oz-wide-mouth Nalgene (for mixing Carborocket).
Food: 9 Scoopes of Carborocket 333 (999 cal), one EFS flask (400 cal)
Top: old thin merino wool long sleeve top, Patagonia nanopuff pullover Pearl Izumi rain/wind breaker, Pearl Izumi barrier balakava.
Bottom:  Marker fleece tights, Champion boxer briefs (that should answer several questions you wanted to know but were afraid to ask), Patagonia Rock Guide Shorts (would I wear the Rock Guide Pants if I had them? Yes. Would I wear the Alpine Guide Pants if I had them? Yes.)


Map in a plastic cover (The map is a good one, and I’m planning to ride to the Orson Smith Trailhead

Packed and ready to ROCK!

then hike or ride up Corner Canyon Road to the Ghost Falls Trail Head and head up the ridge on Jacob’s Ladder ‘Down’)
Compass my simple trusty Silva
Camera Fully charged phone (an iPhone 4 – great camera, I’m going to do a bit on using an iPhone as a backcountry camera soon)
First Aid: Very basic (read don’t get hurt)
Cheap Sunglasses: Cheap like free.
Knife: SOG Fielder
Watch: Suunto t6, because, yes, I want to know how hard it was.
Moleskine and Pencil : Just has to be done.

I’ll check in as the adventure tomorrow progresses!

Quick update: can’t sleep at 1:00 AM.