Mount Olympus - North Face Trail

Neffs Canyon
Olympus Cove
Wasatch Mountains
Salt Lake City, Utah

A view of Mount Olympus from near 2-15 and 3300 south.
Most of the route we took can be traced on this image. Roll over the blue buttons above to show the locations.

Image Detail: (Roll over the image for names)
The two parallel ridges coming down to the right off the two peaks are:
The West Ridge and Geurt's Ridge. The West Slabs are clearly visible as the giant rectangular block on the right of this face. Kamp's Ridge is the edge coming off the left of the peak. The Great Chimney is the crack down the middle of Kamp's Ridge. Tolcat Canyon is between The West Ridge and Geurts Ridge.The North Face Trail can be seen from the bottom of the Great Chimney angling less than 45 degrees, it is very faint. It reaches the West Ridge at the same angle.

One the drive up, I said I needed to do an "epic" hike.
I got my wish, and then some.

We started at Neffs Canyon, hiked 3/4 of a mile to the juction turned right up North's Fork, went up the North Face Trail to the top of the West Ridge on Mount Olympus' northernmost slabs. This took about 3 hours.

Tolcat Canyon - Summer 2008

At the ridge pass, I decided that I was hungry enough to stop and eat. After looking through my pack, it became clear that the food had fallen out somewhere.

I hadn't eaten much for the past 3-4 days, so I was already feeling my stomach deflating into the size of a raisin. I still had some juice and plenty of water.

Tolcat Canyon - Spring 2008

From the West Ridge, We continued up to the top of all 5 of the north peaks. The sun was setting as we made it down to the saddle of Tolcat Canyon. The last main move to get to the Tolcat Saddle requires either a 5.7-5.9 downclimb or you can just jump 12 feet down.

From the saddle between Mount Olympus South Peak and the North Peaks, we went west down Tolcat Canyon. The remaining penumbra light soon faded to black. I was feeling dizzy from hunger. My mind seemed to constantly turn off. I kept forgetting that we weren't on a trail. The terrain was incredibly rugged after we left the pine forest, and descended into the bramble bushes. You couldn't see the floor, even with a flashlight, the foliage was too thick.I kept making mistakes, I slipped through the false floor multiple times, then I fell sideways on to my back.

Trista suggested that we climb up Geurt's Ridge, I said I didn't think it would be a good idea. My mind was working at about one frame a second. I was tired from the steep 7 hour (so far) Hike. I kept forgetting that I wasn't on a trail. I broke 3 walking sticks here catching myself from falling.

No more more than 5 minutes later, I fell again, this time about 12 feet, I tried to get my flashlight aimed at the ground to land right, but the ground was covered with plants and was angled much differently than it appeared. POP, my ankle rolled over and some real pain began. I quickly stood up and hopped around on it. I just kept thinking, "No way, not today, not here, no thanks, and ow." If you can stand on it, it's not broken.

Thankfully, I was able to put my weight on it, and with a stick, I was back to the march down, except now much slower. I continued making mistakes, rolling my ankle back and forth, until I decided I would just kind of crab crawl.

We then thought it would be better to go across to the northern side of Tolcat Canyon, as the southern side seemed riddled with barriers. After bushwhacking through some thick bushy trees, we looked back at Geurt's Ridge and saw a chute that might make an easy accent over it and then back on the classic Olympus Trail. We decided to try it, but agreed that we would turn back before doing anything too dangerous. Without the bright lights from the city below, we wouldn't have been able to even see the chute, but unfortunately, the light didn't reach the inside the chute.

We had both had experience free-climbing this style of rock from doing the West Slabs, and the ridge felt almost identical to the rock on the West Slabs, except we were doing it in the dark, on empty stomachs, out of energy.

We climbed up the northern face of Geurt's Ridge to get out of Tolcat Canyon, to get to the main trail. We carried walking sticks to the top. I couldn't risk not finding a good one, because I couldn't walk far without one. We kept encountering overhangs and chockstones in our path, which forced us to have to climb out onto exposed sections. It was a kind of a hopeless feeling not knowing if there would be a route that would let us to the top, and after a short while it became apparent that we wouldn't be downclimbing any of this in the dark. After a emotional two hour battle, we made it to the top. We both kept our feelings to ourselves, but I can admit that I was shook pretty good going up this wall in the dark.

Once on top of Geurt's Ridge we bushwhacked south for a little over an hour to the main trail. It still took another 2 hours from there to get to the trailhead on Wasatch Blvd. We had to shuttle back to Neffs. The whole hike took about 13 hours.

Now that I listed so many bad things that had happened to us here are some things that went right: It didn't rain, it wasn't windy, we brought enough clothes to stay warm, we didn't run out of water, and we made it back home.

From the Salt Lake Valley looking east toward the twin summit blocks of Mount Olympus. From left to right: The North Summit (North Peaks 1-5) at the top of the West Ridge, Tolcat Canyon (The low point between the two ridges), and Geurt's Ridge (The top of which is the classic summit from the Mount Olympus Trail on Wasatch Blvd.

Mount Olympus MAP

Sunday, September 4, 2008

Nearing the first boulder quarry up the North Face Trail.

Quartzite spires near Kamp's Ridge.

Nearing the Great Chimney.
With every step from here the hike becomes more and more beautiful.
Video of the hike through this section of the trail: North Face Trail Video.

The Great Chimney, a classic multi-pitch crack and chimney rock climb.

Approaching the chute before the northern views open up.
Over this pass, the trail droops down about 100 feet or so,
as it climbs around a slab of cobblestone compressed into quartzite.

From the bottom of the cobblestone quartzite slab,
looking up the rest of the last chute before the West Ridge junction.

Looking up the slab.

Continuing up the steep trail against the rock wall.

The final steps up the last chute to the West Ridge junction.
This isn't snow, surprisingly, it's hail from a hailstorm earlier this week.

From the West Ridge looking south over Tolcat Canyon toward Geurt's Ridge.
Twin Peaks, The Pfeifferhorn and North Thunder Mountain are visible in the background.

Find the Mountain Goat:
If you look toward the middle of Geurt's Ridge,
(Where the Cottonwood Ridge skyline in the background
connects with the foreground ridge in the image.)
you can see two cracks emanating downward from the top making an A frame shape.
Just to the left (10 pixels or so) of the top of this A frame, are two "little" pine trees.
In-between the two pine trees is the largest mountain goat I've ever seen.
Can you see it?

Looking south over Tolcat Canyon onto Geurt's Ridge.
I thought this was a goat but I wasn't sure,
then I thought there was no way it would be that big.
I took a picture thinking it would probably just be a rock.
To my surprise, it really was a huge mountain goat carefully watching us.

The guardians of the dead tree.
When you get out of the dirty ocean of particulates below, the sky is actually blue.

Termite Artwork

Looking west from near the top of the north peak.
The valley is blanketed by a layer of suffocating smog.

A easy little jaunt to the top of North Peak 1, if you choose to go this way.
There is an even easier approach to the top if you continue east to the top of the little saddle.

Looking east toward North Peak 1 on the northern summit.

From the top of the North Peak 1
looking east down the gigantic quartzite slabs.

From the highest peak on the northern block (North Peak 2)
Looking north toward the northernmost peak (North Peak 1)

Looking south over North Peak 2 toward Mount Olympus' classic South Peak.

Telephoto of the Cottonwood Ridge
From left to right: Black Knob,Superior, Monte Cristo and the 2 unnamed peaks.
Below in the middle is Sundial Peak with Lake Blanche area (Not visible) below it.

Looking over Mount Olympus' highest point (South Summit) toward Twin Peaks,
which is a good 2,000 feet taller than Mount Olympus.
Video of a hike across the exposed ledge of North Peak 3:
Olympus North Peak Ledge Video

From North Peak 3 looking west toward the smoke covered valley.

Looking east from North Peak 3 toward Neffs Canyon,
Thaynes Peak and Millcreek Ridge

From North Peak 3 looking west through the cleave between it and the 4th Peak.
The southern end of the Oquirrh Mountains float above a sea of DDT.

From the cleaved chute saddle between Peaks 3 and 4 looking west.
There is a whole city underneath this deadly gas chamber.
The Oquirrh Mountains sit in the distance, and the Stansbury Mountains beyond.

From the top of North Peak 4 looking west at the colorful film of toxic smoke.

From North Peak 4 Looking south toward North Peak 5
and the Mount Olympus South Peak.
They kind of mesh together in this picture, but they are about 150 feet apart.

From North Peak 4 Looking toward North Peak 2, the highest point on the northern side.
Under the Great Sea of Pollution, there is the Great Salt Lake.

Petrified Sand Dunes? Petrified Sea Floor? Lava Wrinkles?

From the top of North Peak 5,
looking south over the top of the saddle of Tolcat Canyon.
The summit of Mount Olympus is accessible via a 5.5 rock climb up the face.

Stretching the eye west toward Deseret Peak in the Stansbury Mountains.

The moon dropped like a rock into the crimson ocean.
It seemed to move extra fast, probably because I was moving extra slow.
Pollution creates a nice orange glow.

A time-lapse capture of the glowing electronic city.
A smoggy haze of waste waifs above the sleepy Salt Lake Citians like a warm blanket of cancer.

Here is a image taken from the West Ridge Route up to the North Peaks.
This shows the route we took to climb over Geurt's Ridge.
We climbed up this crack, until we reached the boulder-chockstones.
Then we just climbed right up the left walls.

Good Times
When I got home, I took a picture of my ankle as a souvenir.

Related Pages
North Face Trail to the West Ridge - October
Mount Olympus 6 Peaks Route
North Peak Ledge Video
North Face Trail Video

Thanks to Trista ... An awesome teammate: not one complaint : )


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