June 23, 2012

Cottonwood Ridge Traverse June 20, 2012

Cottonwood Ridge from the West
The morning was crystal clear and I had an afternoon free of meetings so I took the rest of the day off in hopes I might take advantage of a few hours and get away from the valley heat. Scott Wetzel was able to break away too so we were stoked to head for the hill. We reached the trailhead at 1:30 PM and began our journey at Broads Fork and made haste up to the meadow below the cirque of Dromedary, Sunrise and Twins in just under 40 minutes.
Heaven on Earth

Scott bringing it to the Meadow

We decided to tag Twins via the direct variation and after some beautiful views of high alpine flowers, crossing some remaining veins of spring hanging snow fields we reached the upper North Ridge.
Scott peering up the Direct
 I ran over and peaked out on the black horn north of Twins and then met up with Scott as we moved up to the Summit. While on the final stretch I ran into this wild flyer who was unaware of my proximity. The sky had thin sierus clouds with indications of wind.
Majesty, From near the Black Horn

Wild Flyer North Ridge Twins East Peak
  I reached just below the east Summit of Twin and then ran over to top of the west Summit of Twin (I just had to right?), took a quick shot and ran back to the east Summit.
Looking East from Twin's West Summit
Scott on Twin East Summit
Descent off Twin

Scott, nice socks...
Twins looking south -courtesy Scott Wetzel
The objective of the day began to unveil itself nicely before us. We then quickly ran and scrambled down the south ridge and then moved onto Sunrise's west buttress and to its summit. Continuing we then trotted over and onto Sunrise's summit proper. The wind was gusty from the south, reminding us of the exposure below. I was feeling pretty good and cruised down the east ridge of Sunrise and over to Dromedary.

 This is where Scott and I parted ways and he needed to get home for some of his responsibilities.  Sweet day Scott!!! Scott descended down the couloir between Drom and Sunrise then out to his car. I proceeded up towards the summit of Dromedary and noticed one of the white ghosts of the Wasatch gazing directly down upon me. I moved quickly to get closer and by the time I reached the notch just below Dromedary's summit it had vanished as quickly as it had appeared. I moved to the top of the Camel's Back (Dromedary) and was cascaded by the beauty in front of my eyes. Each time I am here the same thing happens. I was humbled quickly as my ultimate objective continued to drape itself before me.
From Dromedary Looking Back @ Sunrise and Twins
On top of Dromedary
The Cottonwood Ridge looking East

 The long, spiny and exposed ridgeline leading to Superior proper stretched out seemingly endless.  I would miss the company of Scott. I looked at my watch it was 4:49 PM. If I wanted to traverse all the way to Superior on the spine I needed to cruise as I feared getting benighted on the west face of the sharp toothed Monte Cristo. Four more significant summits stood before me linked by a sharp exposed ridge. I was off, and within 10 minutes I looked back and could see my island of safety quickly drifting behind me (Dromedary).
Gazing back at Dromedary
From Peak 11,130 (with my phone camera)

The ridge was amazing, sharp, blocky, super exposed and at times fast to slow moving. I continued summiting a prominent 11,000 foot tooth then onto peak 11,130 which was steeper than I thought it would be. Just as I continued on the spine I dropped the batteries out of my camera. Dang. They spilled out to the south face. So now all I had was my phone camera. I could see Monte Cristo staring down as I was becoming more fatigued. Running what I could and then coming to regular haults due to the need to scramble, I finally reached the base of Monte Cristo. I was amazed at the sheer steepness of the ridge now as it abutted the base of the Mont.
Nearing Monte Cristo- just over the hump
Looking back to the start from peak 11,130 (bad phone camera-sorry)

I picked my line and continued as I had the whole way scrambling quickly up 4th class rock with the south falling precipitously below me. Beyond the 4th class, I chose to avoid the loose rock chimney and decided to head straight up the dihedral of the west face climbing perhaps some very low 5th class. As I peaked out and added a rock to the cairn indicating the summit I looked back over the miles and peaks with gratitude for the moment I was experiencing.

From top of Monte Cristo  looking back on the ridge (phone camera into the sun)
Obligatory Self Photo
 I then moved over to the summit of Superior and then descended the east ridge. I tried to not take it too laxed but it was super mellow when compared to the ridge now behind me. As I reached the bottom part of the Superior ridge I was greeted by 7 more white ghosts of the Wasatch, this time they grunted and moved away once I got within 100 feet or so. Probably my stinky scent. I don't blame them. Descending down pole line off of Cardiff I was struck by the beauty of my surroundings as I reached Our Lady of the Snows with an elapsed time of 6 hours and 24 minutes from the time I started.

Summits Reached--
Black Horn
Twin West
Twin East
Sub Sunrise
Unknown 11,000
Peak 11,130
Monte Cristo


  1. Super Cool...I'm glad I found your stories. I met you & Jason up the Pfeifferhorn about a month ago. I've been thinking about tackling the Triple Traverse but have been a little hesitant after hitting up the Twins a couple weeks ago... This post may have been the confidence boost I needed.

    1. Right on! You will love it. Super neat to cover all that ground.