Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grandview Peak Adventure Run

It's not the highest or gnarliest peak around, but I had my eye on Grandview Peak for quite a while.  I've been close to it several times, in fact the Wasatch 100 course passes within a mile and a half but I've never stood on top.  Bagging peaks is always rewarding, but really the peak was just part of bigger idea I had been working on since last year.  A point to point run from Big Mountain pass to the mouth of City Creek canyon, sticking to the ridge the whole way.  Whenever I mentioned the route idea to others I always got a funny look and a little bit of waffling when I asked if they were interested in joining me, especially from those that had done it before.  When I finally set a date I found that everyone was conveniently busy, so I would be attempting this one alone.

View Big Mtn to City Creek in a larger map


On the drive up to Big Mountain pass I noticed quite a few of big trucks parked along the road and once I arrived at the parking lot my suspicions were confirmed.  Opening day of the Elk hunt had arrived.  As I grabbed one of the last spots in the parking lot and headed off I got a few strange looks from hunters.  I suppose my attire was a little different than everyone else's, black shorts with a red shirt as opposed to the full camo kit with orange vest that seemed to be the trend.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
The storm that had come through earlier in the week had left a good 6 inches to foot of snow on the mountain.  Straight away I was on snow packed trail as I headed in the opposite direction of the Wasatch 100 route.  I must have passed 20 to 30 hunters in the first four miles or so.  One pair of hunters decided to set up camp right ON the trail, complete with a little fire, unbelievable.  After I got past Swallow rocks I didn't see another soul between there and the peak.  The trail junction was little hard to see because of the snow but I knew I just had to head out on the ridge toward the peak.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
As I got closer I could someone or something moving around on the peak.  Turns out it was a big bull moose.  I kept an eye on him as I made my way along the ridge and noticed he was making his way down the bowl that I intended climbing up to reach the summit.  So I decided to to stick to the rocky ridge until it became impassable then just wait him out.  He took his time coming down, stopping every now and again as I sat on a little band of rocks taking pictures of him and refueling.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
I finally reached the summit a little over 2 hours after I started, snapped a couple of pictures then made my way down the west ridge toward the City Creek north ridge.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
At the saddle between the peak and ridge I ran into a couple of hunters who had just come from the direction I was headed.  I asked them how foolish it would be to run the ridge down to Rudy Flat.  One of them told me it was "pretty" foolish, which I interpreted as definitely doable.  They both looked at me like they would be hearing about me on the evening news that night.  A little further down the ridge and I started to wonder if I might end up on the news as well.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
I knew there wouldn't be a trail for a few miles but the new snow just confounded the route finding and slowed my progress significantly.  The whole section between the peak and Rudy Flat was definitely a test of patience. The south side of the ridge was often to steep while the north side had a significant amount of snow.  I was ready to bail at one point and head down into City Creek after I realized I bushwhacked out on to the wrong branch of the ridge and encountered the Burro mine.  This little mistake cost me about 40 minutes and involved an unholy mess of a bushwhack.  I finally made it back on to the proper ridge and just about kissed the singletrack trail I saw laid out in front of me.  Now I was cruising with confidence and feeling good.  The trail dropped off the ridge toward Rudy Flat where I found a myriad of trails branching in different directions.  I was able to get a sight of the ridge I needed to be on and followed that trail.  I thought for sure it would be smooth sailing from here to City Creek and just about that same moment the trail just ended.

I desperately searched for a trail through the scrub oak, but there was nothing.  The snow was gone now that I was down around 7,000' so I didn't have trouble seeing the ground but there was no clear path.  No choice but to bloody the shins and just go.  Eventually I made it through and on to the south side of the ridge where I started going out of my way to avoid the patches of scrub oak that littered the hillside, my shins just couldn't take it anymore.  I even down climbed a few rock bands just so I wouldn't have to go through it anymore.  The 4wd double track that I had been waiting to see finally came into view and I finally got to run again as I dropped down toward the mouth of City Creek.  Approximately 22 miles and a little over 6 hours after I started I reached my destination where my lovely wife picked me up.  Even though it was a "downhill" route my watch recorded 5,100' of ascent and 7,700' of descent.  I know I could do this route faster without snow, I just don't know if I'll be attempting it anytime soon.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak

4 comments:

Greg said...

Nice run Christian, Kevin will be proud of you! Try to save those shins for some good post hole training this Dec.

peter said...

Wish I had been able to go...seriously. Let's go the up direction next time, but with shin guards.
P

Ryan Lauck said...

Nice! way to get after it. I've been wanting to do a similar run in the uphill direction but starting from either north canyon or mueller park in bountiful. Maybe as wasatch training next spring? you putting your name in the hat again next year?

Missy B. said...

I had a similar experience last December (2011) when I did City Creek east ridge to west ridge. Started at mouth of City Creek, went up to Black Mountain, down through Smuggler's, then up Rudy Flat trail where I ran into the same troubles as you did... branching trails, knee deep sugary snow, no trail. Once I got back onto the rudimentary trail by Dude Peak it was smooth sailing to Meridian and down the switchbacks back to the mouth. A definite adventure that I'm not sure I will attempt again anytime soon. 19 miles. about 8 hours.