TRIP REPORT: Mount Timpanogos, Aspen Grove Route (11,752′)

I climbed this mountain for the first time back in 2009. It was at one of the lowest points in my eating disorder, I was freezing and miserable. I also had apparently blocked out parts of this trial from my memory and I now remember why. I am not saying this as a deterrent, this is still a beautiful climb, it was just much more tedious than I remembered. Timpanogos from the Aspen Grove TH is a 16 mile, 5300′ gain climb. The other and more popular route is the Timpanoke route. While it has less gain, the trail is a bit longer, however AG has been ranked as more difficult due to some of the earlier terrain as well. I personally think the Aspen Grove area is prettier with all the waterfalls and less crowded so it is my preferred route to the summit.

We started at 4:15 on a beautiful mid-September morning. Stars were out, meteor shower was in peak and it was incredibly calm. Moving pretty quickly through the first mile to the first waterfall (which we could not see but could hear in the darkness) the trail began up the switchbacks and across primrose cirque all in the dark of night. it wasn’t until we reached the higher falls (which was bone dry this time of year) that we began to get twilight. Working our way up the tight switchbacks waiting for the sunrise, the winds picked up but we were making excellent time. We stopped for a quick break at the top of the couloir as the sun rose. We had been going for nearly 3 straight hours.

We continued up the last bit of the couloir to the opening of the meadow where we had our first goat encounter and witnessed the suns rays light up the summit ridge in front of us. Strolling along, we made it to Emerald Lake and the shelter where we met our second pack of goats!

From here things slowed down a bit. Crossing the scree field was not difficult but it was time consuming. Keeping track or cairns, and just walking along the uneven path, ALL of our ankles could feel it by the end. That field was definitely bigger than I remember. onward up the steep pitch to the saddle, we were all feeling the burn, but it wasnt until we topped out on the ridge that the wind was at its peak (as per usual for Timpanogos).

We made our way up the last .9mi to the summit. The trail is exposed the entire way but ridge starts out with well defined trail. the crux of the climb is the chimney. a class 2/3 mix of loose and solid rock scramble up switchbacks sheltered in the rock formation. From here you pop out and its only a few more switchbacks to the final stretch of ridge and the summit is in sight.

On the summit we celebrated a client’s birthday and the overall accomplishment of a major climb for everyone involved! The wind was fierce, and it was cold and crowded so we headed down pretty quickly. Our descent was smooth until we returned to the scree field where ankles were sore and unhappy, slowing us way down and we took our time on the remainder of the descent enjoying the beautiful fall colors we didn’t get to see in the dark on the way up.

Car to car with our group was about 12 1/2 hours. My least favorite part was the crowds… it was like BYU Disneyland up there… If you can, pick a weekday to go. Overall a great day!


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