Agassiz Peak - Uinta Mountains

Kamas, Utah
Naturalist Basin
Agassiz Peak 12,428'

Agassiz (Ah-Gah-See) Peak is named after geologist, Louis Agassiz. It is the domed corner peak between Hayden Peak and Spread Eagle Peak. You can see this peak as you come out of the Bald Mountain Pass around Mirror Lake. Climbing Agassiz Peak is quite difficult from the west. Most people climb it from Naturalist Basin.

Agassiz Peak from Hayden Peak
Looking south

Agassiz Peak from the ridge to
Spread Eagle Peak
Looking west

Agassiz Peak from Bald Mountain
Looking east
Agassiz is the round, domed peak in the foreground, right.
This is similar to the view from the road just after Bald Mountain Pass
Hayden Peak, Lamotte Peak, Ostler Peak, Spread Eagle Peak, Agassiz Peak

This is one of the only peaks I've ever hiked alone. It would had been nice to share this one with someone, it's hard to describe what it felt like to get up to the top of this sketchy 12,438 foot peak with the dark clouds above, thunder booming behind me, and the yellow light hitting the white quartzite lichen covered rocks.
My heart raced with emotion looking at the panorama of glowing ridges all around. Or maybe my heart was racing like that because I was exhausted. I felt like I won a small battle, but I also felt very alone up there with the rain coming, and the sun leaving.

I planned on going to the top by myself, if no one else wanted to, but we'd have to get to Naturalist Basin before 6:00 pm to have a chance of that. We reached camp at around 4:30, but it was cloudy and you could hear thunder. I didn't love the idea of lightning shooting down my spine, so I gave up on that idea.

Lorin and I went up to check out Blue Lake. Once we got to Blue Lake, I thought we were too close to not run up to the hill above Blue Lake, to see the other Lakes in Naturalist Basin. He said he would go until he got tired. Once on top of the hill, I looked back for Lorin, but he seemed to have decided to stop.

The views were great from there, but I looked up and noticed the ridge to Middle Basin was only 300 feet up. I also noticed the clouds were starting to open up to the west, and time was running out for light. So I decided to walk towards the base of the peak and take pictures of it from there.

I cut diagonally from the hill straight to the base, it was actually very easy. The rocks were all stacked in a way that almost seemed designed for the path I chose. I cut right up to the base with very little exertion.

Once I reached the ridge, I was filled with exhilaration from the view opening up in front of me. I could hear the angels sing with synthestisia. I looked at the sun and noticed that there was a break in the clouds, and realized if I hurried, I could make it to the top before sunset and that there should be enough light to see from the top. I huffed and puffed over washing machine-sized rocks to make it just in time to see the sun break from under the dark blanket of clouds and paint the mountain tops.

I stayed on top of the peak until the sun was completely set, then I started hiking straight down from the peak toward Blue Lake, I could see a talus that looked very steep, but still doable. I walk with a metal cane, so it makes it harder to slip. The thunder hit a few times, so I started moving a little faster, the rain was making the rocks harder to judge, as far as friction, I slipped a couple of times, and cut my hand.

I had to downclimb two cliffbands, it wasn't exactly hard, but if I would have slipped anywhere, it would have been bad. There was also a band of steep bushes I had to climb down in the rain, not the funnest part of the hike, but I've had worse. I finally got down and walked around the west side of Blue lake and then stumbled into camp feeling like the living dead.

During my 1,500 foot straight down decent from the peak, I saw two guys on the east side of Blue Lake below who were watching me in the dark with my flashlight. I knocked all kinds of rocks down the peak, and made plenty of noise with my metal cane. These same guys went up to the peak the next morning but chose a different route down... If you're going to hike to a peak at night, I would suggest taking the same route down as up, if you want to ensure your safety.

But there are always those who prefer a little adventure,
as it is as addictive as it is dangerous.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Looking west toward Agassiz Peak from the hill northeast of Blue Lake,
I just walked a long diagonal towards the base of the peak, and it was actually easy.
I missed out on the view from the ridge, but I didn't have the time and it was good to conserve energy.

When I first surfaced the ridge, it was a very spiritual feeling.
Looking west down the ridge up to Agassiz Peak, Hayden Peak is visible on the right.

Once you get to this point, you'll look ahead and wonder where to go, just go around the left side,
and just look for ways up. It's not easy from here on out, but nothing worth it ever is.

Looking east towards Agassiz' ancient neighbor,
Spread Eagle Peak 12,540'

Looking northwest toward Agassiz' other ridge connected neighbor,
Hayden Peak 12,479'.

Looking north toward Hayden Peak, Kletting Peak 12,055', A-1 Peak 12,377'
Below are McPheters Lake and Ryder Lake

Inching my way up the teeder todder rocks toward the summit of Agassiz Peak.

Explorer Peak 12,708' (Dark peak on the left)
with massive Mount Emmons 13,440', the fourth tallest peak in Utah, lit up in the distance.

Looking up the steep ridge up to Agassiz Peak,
with Hayden Peak, Kletting Peak and A-1 Peak on the right.
Below sit McPheters Lake and Ryder Lake

Looking north toward Hayden Peak, Kletting Peak, A-1 Peak
Below are McPheters Lake and Ryder Lake

To enter heaven you must pass through these tower gates.

Looking down from through the pearly tower gates, along the route up to Agassiz Peak.
This area and much of the route below required hands to climb.

Looking down toward Blue Lake in Naturalist Basin
Blue Lake looks like a giant dinosaur footprint from above.
The light is hitting around the Four Lakes Area.

From near the summit looking east over the body of the Uintas.
Sub Peak 11,647' is lit up along the ridge to Spread Eagle Peak.
Ostler Peak is clear on the left, and the pointy peak on the right is Explorer.

East Grandaddy Peak 11,659'
Grandaddy Lake 10,300' (not visible) sits directly in front (north) of it.

The last light of the day, just clipping the highest points of the Uinta spine.

Lamotte Peak 12,720' and Ostler Peak 12,718'

Pointy Explorer Peak lit up dramatically in the center.
Shaler Lake sits below in Naturalist Basin.

Explorer Peak with Mount Emmons in the background on the right.

Lamotte Peak and Ostler Peak between them is Amethyst Lake.

Ostler Peak 12,718'

Telephoto of Ostler Peak's shark-fin summit.
These are the best type of peaks to take pictures from, as they offer the widest range of view.

Just in time for the sunset.
You can barely make out Mount Timpanogos, lit up in yellow on the left in the far distance.
From the summit looking west over the western Uintas and Wastach Mountains.

The last steps to the highest point on Agassiz Peak.
There's a mailbox in that pile of rocks, containing the summit registry,
I didn't sign it.

From Agassiz Peak looking east down the spine of the Uinta Mountains

Looking west toward the central Wasatch.
You can see Lone Peak 11,253' on the far left,
American Fork Twin Peaks
as the tallsest point on the left side,
all the way to Superior Peak, Dromedary and Broads Fork Twin Peaks.

Looking far west toward Mount Raymond and Gobblers Knob,
which sit on the ridge between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Millcreek Canyon.

Looking south over the Grandaddy Mountains.

Looking southeast toward the Four Lakes Region.

From Agassiz Peak looking east, LeConte Lake is visible below.

Looking east toward Lamotte Peak 12,720'

Looking down Stillwater Fork.
East Hayden Peak is on the left, and Lamotte and Ostler on the right.

Looking west toward Cascade Peak and Mount Timpanogos 11,750'.

Looking far southwest toward Mount Nebo, 11,928'
the tallest peak at southern end of the Wasatch.
There are no 12,000 foot peaks in the Wastach.

Looking west toward Mount Watson 11,521'
with the pointy dragon spine of Kessler Peak (Big Cottonwood Canyon)
in the far distance.

Orange hills rolling into the sunset.

Black foreground: Bald Mountain,
The dark pointy peak is Long Peak (West of Mount Watson in the Uintas)
The entire Cottonwood Ridge sits far behind.
You can see Mount Superior, Monte Cristo, Dromedary, Sunrise and the eastern Twin Peak 11,330'.

Looking northwest toward Hayden Peak, Kletting Peak, A-1 Peak
McPheters Lake, Ryder Lake

Rainbows forming through the falling rain,
as the sun slices through the thin gap between the peaks and the clouds.

Looking northwest toward Bountiful Peak 9,259' in the Wasatch.

For a minute, the mountain peak lit up like Vegas. A small rainbow formed in the distance.
To the west the sun is almost set.

Kings Peak 13, 528' and South Kings Peak
Unnamed peaks along a ridge south of Wilson Peak.
Ridge knob along a southwest ridge from Wilson Peak.
Ridge to Explorer Peak
Rocky Sea Ridge (Ridge that comes off south of Spread Eagle)
Agassiz Peak Summit (bottom of the image), lit up in firey red.

From the summit of Agassiz Peak looking southeast toward the Grandaddy Mountains.

Looking east over the Uinta Mountain Range,
below is LeConte Lake and Jordan Lake 10,630'.

Lamotte and Ostler Peak straining to feel the warmth of the sun for just one more minute.
LeConte Lake and Jordan Lake in Naturalist Basin, are visible on the right.

Just another everyday sunset above 12,000 feet

Background: Red Knob 12,108 in the background
Mid: Yard Peak 12,706' with neighbor Peak 3825m
Foreground: Ridge south of Spread Eagle Peak.

Red Knob about an hour later.

Looking north over East Hayden Peak 12,284'
Though, not very popular, this peak might give the best views in the area,
being that it is pointy and that it sits right in the middle of Middle Basin.

The end of an awesome day.

It was an indescribable feeling with the thunder crashing in the background,
and the blazing sun falling into the horizon, leaving me all alone.

Bald Mountain 11,943' and Reids Peak 11,708', Mount Watson between and behind them.
The Central Wasatch sits in the distance.
The 3 little peaks in the middle are actually the entire Cottonwood Ridge.

From the top of Agassiz Peak looking west over
Bald Mountain, Reids Peak and the western end of the Uinta Mountains.

Listening to thunder crashing in the background, as the sky fades to black.

The eye of God closes shut as Horus loses his battle with Set.

Mount Timpanogos in the Wasatch

After thanking the Mountain Gods for their hospitality,
I bid them farewell, and asked for their blessing for my safe return.

For pictures of a hike to the base of Agassiz Peak and Naturalist Basin:
Naturalist Basin Hike

For a Map of Agassiz Peak:
Agassiz Peak Map

For pictures of a hike to nearby Amethyst Lake:
Amethyst Lake Hike


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© Copyright 1999-2019 Dale Meier, unless otherwise credited. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use is prohibited.