I had my first internship in Utah in 2009. I picked up the local climbing guidebooks, and Lone Peak Cirque jumped out as a location worth getting to. Four years later, and I finally made the trudge up and climbed the amazing summit wall.
Lone Peak is the skyline of Salt Lake City. As a result, it is also the lightning rod of the valley. While not the highest of peaks on the Wasatch Range (11,253 feet), it is certainly one of the most commanding with an impressive summit, exposed on three out of four sides.
I met up with Ken on Thursday near Ogden at 10:30AM. He had worked half a day. Due to my ill-preparation, I had taken all of Thursday off to finish packing. We had decided to take our chances and not bring a tent. If it rained, we weren’t going to climb anyway, so it seemed to be extra weight. My final pack weight (with three liters of water, climbing gear, and enough food for two days) ended up being 53 pounds, about 5 pounds lighter that I had calculated using my spreadsheet! The climbing gear weighed a total of 30 pounds, which we split evenly.
We left my car at Ken’s parents’ place and were shuttled to the parking lot. 12:30PM start. The forecast had called for near record heat, peaking out around 100°F by 3PM. The first 1.5 miles gained just a few hundred feet of elevation and went fairly coolly, as far as the temperature was concerned. Then we started the Jacob’s Ladder trail.
We began the hike up to the base of the climb starting on talus. The 30-foot snowfield traverse was delicate, involving sharp rocks to be used as ice tools and kicking steps in the snow with our approach shoes.
The first pitch, which I think goes at 5.9, took nearly the entire 70-meter rope. From the base it looked half as long. The effects of altitude were made quickly apparent by the constant huffing and puffing during the climb.
The top-out was glorious! The rock falls away on three out of four sides all around you. Upon arrival, the climber is rewarded with views of both Salt Lake Valley and Utah Valley to the west, and the amazing Wasatch Range to the north, east, and south. We summited at 1:30PM, 4 hours after starting.
The cirque is an amazing part of creation, and will certainly be revisited.