Backpacking and Summiting Mount Olympus in Utah

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If you live in Salt Lake City, you will easily recognize Mount Olympus as memorable landmark and peak in the area. Is dramatic face stares directly into the heart of the city. mount olympus utahFrom the first day I moved to SLC I felt compelled to climb this mountain. In April of 2012, I finally did.

It was an early season climb and at just above 9000 ft there was still a small amount of snow on the way up. Cool air of the mid afternoon made the first bit of the hike very nice. mount olympus utahWe began at the trailhead and followed switchbacks up the Southwest side of the mountain.

It wasn’t long until we were up into the Aspens and the switchbacks turned into a trail straight upwards with beautiful granite cliffs to our right. The trail became muddy, then turned to snow. The snowy footprint trail was easy to see, but the slippery slop made them fairly difficult to follow.

mount olympus utahIt wasn’t too long, though, before the saddle came into view. The trail leveled out and an amazing view over big cottonwood canyon and the North side of Twin Peaks. The Wasatch range still layered in snow was majestic.

After a few minutes of appreciation we headed North along the wide saddle to where the trail became a bit rockier. We began scrambling up the snow cover rocks for a decent amount of time. The “trail” turned a bit to the east and we reached a flat, snow-covered ridge a few hundred feet from the high point of Mount Olympus.

mount olympus utahWe trudged through the snow and sat down to admire the sunset. The weather said it would be clear skies so we set up camp under the stars and soon fell asleep.

I was startled to be woken up by cold drops on my face. I sat up quickly to see that we were in the middle of a cloud. A cloud that was throwing snow on us. A bit flustered, I woke my friend and we packed up in the freezing blizzard as quickly as possible.

mount olympus utahAfter what seemed like forever, we were on our way down the slippery rocks toward the saddle. Once at the saddle, we moved quickly down the Southwest face from where we came. Just like on the way up, the snow on the trail turned to mud and the snow falling from the sky turned to sleet and then to rain.

We stopped under a large tree about halfway down to cook some mac n cheese and warm our bones, and then continued onward. mount olympus utahIt felt really good to see the car, jump in and turn on the heat.

Now that I have written this post, I am coming to realize how many summits I have attempted that have turned into a storm. It is kind of a ridiculous amount, surprisingly close to half.

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