I currently have a finger pulley injury that's keeping me from bouldering and sport climbing. But the injury is forcing me to get out and enjoy some of the great hiking and easier trad climbing that the Wasatch Front has to offer. Over Labor Day weekend, I made the +5 mile journey to the alpine granite climbing of Lone Peak Cirque just a few miles south of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Mountains at over 10,000 ft elevation.
Elizabeth Hardwick goes Alpine climbing in SLC?!
The hike up to Lone Peak is not for the faint of heart - the approach has about 5,500 ft of elevation gain over at least 5 miles. Add in 40 lbs of climbing gear, camping gear, and food (snow was still available in the Cirque for water), and we were TIRED when we got to the top. We started out on Saturday morning, and after 5 hours of hiking, we got to the Cirque, ate lunch, and lounged a little while before rallying to get up a route.
Most of the routes in the Cirque are 3-5 pitches and between 5.7 and 5.10, with a sprinkling of harder routes and a few single pitch routes as well. My friend, Steve Cater, and I, opted to do the mega-classic 3-pitch Lowe Route (5.8). The first pitch is a wide hand crack dihedral, with abundant face holds too (perfect for sport climbers like me who aren't that good at jamming). The second pitch is fun, but forgettable. And the third pitch...! The third pitch is over 100 ft of 5.7 climbing on flat to incut chickenheads, with perfect gear the whole way! It is one of the funnest pitches I've done of any grade. And we topped out the wall just before a beautiful sunset over the Salt Lake Valley, then we walked and rapped down to go camp under the cloudless sky.