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Hike: Provo Crown Run
By Samuel Cannon
| An intrepid group blurry eyed masochists met at 2:30 am at Rock Canyon parking lot in Provo, fully intent on traversing the entirety of what I have coined "The Provo Crown." This regal geologic wonderment is comprised of four distinct peaks: Shingle Mill, Freedom, East Provo, and West Provo. Cascade also shares the ridge that runs across all four of these alpine beauties. We set out in good spirits, Jacob's dog Nebo nipping at our heels like a zealous gym trainer, spurring us on. The moon was nearly full and made a beautiful compliment of light to our headlamps. We reached Rock Canyon Campground in about an hour, crossed the Forest Service road that will still be closed for a month or two, and headed up towards the bowl of the crown. We crossed several significant and arresting avalanche slides that had a depth of four to five feet in places, which had displaced massive amounts of snow from the face of Cascade's ridge. Opting to take a spur ridge rather than the open face of the bowl we (Mike Gibby, Jacob Moon, myself, and a friend of Jacob's) toiled away another hour or so through punchy snow at a pretty good angle of ascent. We were treated to a beautiful blush dawn that descended down the mountains as we made our way up, meeting us finally at the ridge. We were seeing evidence of avalanches on nearly every part of the ridge and facing both east and west. As we followed the ridge up towards Shingle Mill Peak we discussed our options. Jacob advocated bagging Shingle Mill and then turning around, citing this season's terrible snow pack and the abundant evidence of weak, propagating snow layers that seemed to be everywhere. Gibby had a small section partially collapse beneath his feet as well, and it seemed that the only carefree one of the bunch was Nebo, who spent the majority of the time chasing pinwheels of snow set loose by our loping gate. From the top of Shingle Mill we relished the view of the serpentine, knife-edged ridge between Freedom and East Provo, and the aggressive north ridge of Freedom that we'd be taking on next. Ultimately we all agreed with Jacob that there was too much potential for a high consequence situation to really want to commit to the rest of the peaks. It was a beautiful trip, however, and I think all of us determined to make the full run of the ridge either when the snow settles (and IF) or in the summer. Mike had an impressive glissade using his shovel, but that was the only slipping/sliding that occurred. Great trip, can't wait to go back!