Trip Report: Mountaineering - Red Top

Mountaineering - Red Top
By Kurt Hiland
CLIMBING 05/21/2023 MSD

Of all the 11k Wasatch peaks, 11,378’ Red Top doesn’t seem to get much attention. So on Sunday May 21st, Kurt Hiland, Mark Maier, James Gates, Payton Thomas, Rebecca Barter and Steve Albert set off in the 6am light of a clear sky to give it some love. Little Cottonwood Creek was already raging. Soon we were on White Pine Road which was snowed in so much that following the road took some thinking. The previous week had been record warm and rainy, so we expected to be post-holing right out of the gate. But the snow was surprisingly firm. At 9,000’ we left the road and put on crampons to start heading upslope. We aimed for the NW ridge and headed up an open 30-40 degree slope. The snow was amazingly good for using crampons. Mark Maier demonstrated the French Technique of holding all points in the snow while bending the ankles, and the rest of the group practiced. A couple sections were sufficiently steep that we kicked steps and used our ice axes to self belay. We gained the treeless NW ridge and continued upward in styrofoam-like snow. The top of the summit ridge was melted out, so the final half mile was mostly class 2 rock. After 5 hours of work, we claimed the summit for the WMC and enjoyed the 360 degree views. Clouds began popping up so after a good long lunch we headed down with our stupid snowshoes still strapped to our packs. The snow had softened so we descended the ridge in our boots, plunge stepping, sometimes with a bit of force to break the crust to gain a boot edge. One person, who had recently attended the club’s snow skills training, slipped and self arrested with great technique! We enjoyed cutting the annoying road switchbacks through the snow on the way down, and made it down in half the time.

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