Hyrum's Hiking

Quick Facts
11,068 ft.
Elevation Gain
5,600 ft.
13 miles
10 hours

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Provo Peak Trip Report

Slide Canyon, West Ridge, 05/29/06

The west ridge of Provo Peak.
The west ridge of Provo Peak.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and so Ian and I decided to stop talking about it and go out and tackle Provo Peak. I had climbed the peak once before, in the fall, and I wanted to enjoy the peak in spring. Also, I had never made the climb from the valley floor, only from the base of the mountain. Although the previous winter was a heavy snow year, we had had a warm spring, and the mountains were melting out quickly. From the valley, it was apparent that the west ridge route was mostly clear of snow and doable.

Our trouble came the weekend before, when an unseasonably cold front moved through the area, and dumped a significant amount of moisture in the valleys. When we woke on the appointed day, the mountain was covered in fresh fallen snow, though how deep and how low the snow was on the mountain, we didn't know. The day was forecast to be sunny, so we went ahead with our plans, hoping that the sun would melt the snow before we got to it.

After a little bit later start than usual, we hit the trail, starting at the base of Y Mountain. The trail to the Y was as grueling and uneventful as usual, and then we turned to go south toward Slide canyon. Upon reaching slide canyon, the trail makes an abrupt turn to the east, and starts to ascend the canyon. We made good time going up the canyon as we watched the sun rise on the canyon walls. At about 7500 feet, we started getting into the first snow of the day, but we were still able to find the trail. The real excitement didn't start until we reached the fork in the trail leading to Slate canyon.

By the time we reached the fork, the trail and everything else were buried under six inches of fresh powder from the night before. We could not find the trail, but knew that we had to wind our way around point 9001 to the saddle to its north to get to the base of Provo Peak. With this knowledge, we started up the hill and then around it to the north. We spent the better part of an hour bushwhacking through various terrain and trying to reach the saddle, eventually topping out to a wonderful view of the peak and our route.

We could see tracks through the snow up the west ridge of the mountain, and after a quick descent to the base of Provo Peak at the Squaw Peak road, we began our climbing in earnest. Following the steps of the group in front of us was made things easier, but the task was still a little daunting. This was combined with the fact that the snow had not yet melted, which made finding our footing difficult. Several stretches were over slick older snow, which, combined with the powder above made our ascent difficult. Along the way, we were met and passed by another climber who had followed our trail from the base of Y Mountain.

At around 11am, just a thousand feet shy of the summit, we decided to call it quits. The snow was hampering our movement, and the wind was picking up a bit. We had a bite to eat and then descended, easily going down what it had taken much effort to go up. When we reached the base of the peak, the snow had already melted and we were walking through slick mud. Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to go down Slate Canyon to the valley. Whatever trail there was wasn't visible, so we just followed the stream for a couple of miles until we found a well defined trail and then finished walking down the canyon. Even though we didn't summit, it ended up being a great way to spend the day, and a good warm up for other hikes this summer.