Deseret Peak West Twin Couloir

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regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
952
I lived in Utah for years and years without hiking in the Stansbury Range, but six or seven years ago I realized how great this area is and now try to climb Deseret Peak every summer. I think of it as sort of a 2/3 Timp climb in terms of time and effort, easy to knock off by mid-day with an early start.

I've often looked longingly at the twin couloirs that climb about 1300' from the upper bowl below the summit to a flat area a short walk from the peak itself. These are also often easily visible if you look south while flying from SLC to the central west coast. This year at the beginning of July the consolidated snow conditions were excellent, clearly the best since 2011, so my friend Brian and I decided to climb one of these couloirs.

It was like 8:15am before we started hiking, I didn't see the point in getting out too early and running into snow so firm that it would make self arrest impossible. Here's the route we took (leaving out a quick trip to the summit w/o packs or GPS). At the bottom of this image is the trailhead at around 7400'. The route roughly follows the stream for a little ways before splitting at like 7800'. The normal route heads up (left in the pic) via Mill Fork and the couloir route keeps following the stream up Dry Lake Fork. There's a decent trail the we just missed, so we spent a while in some steep deadfall zones, ugh. But in any case there's no super wrong way to go in here, any upward movement should lead to the couloirs.

79356


It took longer than I'd thought to get near the base of the couloirs but finally we had a good view. The east one (left in the image) is a bit steeper (summitpost says 38 degrees) whereas the west one is just 36 degrees. The west couloir is also at the base of the huge cliff system east of Des Peak's summit, and receives a lot more rockfall (not all of the crap in the couloir is rockfall, some of it is melted out).
DSC00507.jpg



Looking back north from near the base of the couloirs:
DSC00512.jpg


Looking south from the same spot:
DSC00513.jpg


Here we're looking sort of obliquely up the W couloir from below the rocks that divide the two couloirs. We rested up here, put on helmets, and decided that we liked the line of the W coulour a bit better. We'd been listening carefully and hadn't heard any rockfall, and the cliffs had been in the sun for quite a while at this point, so we hoped that we could move pretty quickly through the dangerous part. It wasn't steep yet and I wasn't sure the benefit of crampons outweighted the risk of someone spiking their own calf so we didn't put them on.
DSC00516.jpg



Here Brian is probably nearing the steepest part, and we had already stopped to put on crampons, which turned out to be a great decision, just so much awesomeness in being glued to the snow by those monster steel spikes. We both had on lightweight mountain boots that are really a bit too flexible for comfy front-pointing, though. The snow was really perfect and even in the steepest areas the pucker factor I've had on other snow climbs and had been expecting here just was not there, other than in the potential for nasty rockfall.
DSC00521.jpg
\\

Looking back down.
DSC00526.jpg


Whoops, crampons need adjusting. Be quick about it, dude!!!
DSC00527.jpg


At this point we heard our first rockfall-- a few fist sized rocks were popping off the big cliffs and bouncing around. None of them came close to us but it did create a sense of urgency. Here we're finally above the bulk of the rockfall.
DSC00529.jpg


And finally I'm at the top. Hi Brian!!!
DSC00531.jpg


This picture is mandatory, I'm not sorry.
DSC00534.jpg


Summit view.
DSC00538.jpg


Looking down from the top of the E couloir.
DSC00544.jpg


Looking E at some Oquirrhs and Wasatches.
DSC00545.jpg


This is the part of the hike near peak 10874 where there's often a small snowfield to cross into mid/late summer. To the left of the melted out talus patches you can see some tracks from where @danger02ward and his buddies glissaded a week earlier, Our glissade tracks are to the right in the photo. This was a super fast, fun glissade, very steep at the top with a nice runout.
DSC00548.jpg


Looking up at N and S Willow Peaks.
DSC00549.jpg


There was also a nice long glissade down the top of Mill Fork, but not fast since there were a lot of trees in the way and no safe runout. Then an easy walk out. Last couple times I've been to Des Peak I've been stopping for coffee or iced tea at Java Bean in Grantsville, I recommend it.
 

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Jackson

I like to go outside.
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May 31, 2015
Messages
1,579
This is awesome. The times I've stood at the top of those couloirs and looked down them, I've been astounded by how treacherously steep they appear looking down them. I did the loop where you walk below the ridge on the west side of the range and come down Pockets Fork last year, and it was a nice change from the out and back. Maybe I'll have to try one of the couloirs in the snow next time.
 

Perry

Formerly Cuberant
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Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
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Deseret Peak is a great destination! Congrats on the snow climb. I think I would have been “all puckered out” trying that.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
952
This is awesome. The times I've stood at the top of those couloirs and looked down them, I've been astounded by how treacherously steep they appear looking down them. I did the loop where you walk below the ridge on the west side of the range and come down Pockets Fork last year, and it was a nice change from the out and back. Maybe I'll have to try one of the couloirs in the snow next time.
Yeah the loop route is one of the things that makes this an extra-special peak!
 

Titans

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525
Wow, super steep, sounds like you had fun! I'm glad you and Brian didn't get hit by any of those rocks. The glissade sounds like a kid's dream come true.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
952
Looks like a fun ski as well!
Yeah definitely gets skied in winter, not sure that would be fun any longer due to copious surface-level rocks. In winter the approach is long since the upper road is closed.
 

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Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,297
I lived in Utah for years and years without hiking in the Stansbury Range, but six or seven years ago I realized how great this area is and now try to climb Deseret Peak every summer. I think of it as sort of a 2/3 Timp climb in terms of time and effort, easy to knock off by mid-day with an early start.

I've often looked longingly at the twin couloirs that climb about 1300' from the upper bowl below the summit to a flat area a short walk from the peak itself. These are also often easily visible if you look south while flying from SLC to the central west coast. This year at the beginning of July the consolidated snow conditions were excellent, clearly the best since 2011, so my friend Brian and I decided to climb one of these couloirs.

It was like 8:15am before we started hiking, I didn't see the point in getting out too early and running into snow so firm that it would make self arrest impossible. Here's the route we took (leaving out a quick trip to the summit w/o packs or GPS). At the bottom of this image is the trailhead at around 7400'. The route roughly follows the stream for a little ways before splitting at like 7800'. The normal route heads up (left in the pic) via Mill Fork and the couloir route keeps following the stream up Dry Lake Fork. There's a decent trail the we just missed, so we spent a while in some steep deadfall zones, ugh. But in any case there's no super wrong way to go in here, any upward movement should lead to the couloirs.

View attachment 79356

It took longer than I'd thought to get near the base of the couloirs but finally we had a good view. The east one (left in the image) is a bit steeper (summitpost says 38 degrees) whereas the west one is just 36 degrees. The west couloir is also at the base of the huge cliff system east of Des Peak's summit, and receives a lot more rockfall (not all of the crap in the couloir is rockfall, some of it is melted out).
View attachment 79312


Looking back north from near the base of the couloirs:
View attachment 79317

Looking south from the same spot:
View attachment 79318

Here we're looking sort of obliquely up the W couloir from below the rocks that divide the two couloirs. We rested up here, put on helmets, and decided that we liked the line of the W coulour a bit better. We'd been listening carefully and hadn't heard any rockfall, and the cliffs had been in the sun for quite a while at this point, so we hoped that we could move pretty quickly through the dangerous part. It wasn't steep yet and I wasn't sure the benefit of crampons outweighted the risk of someone spiking their own calf so we didn't put them on.
View attachment 79321


Here Brian is probably nearing the steepest part, and we had already stopped to put on crampons, which turned out to be a great decision, just so much awesomeness in being glued to the snow by those monster steel spikes. We both had on lightweight mountain boots that are really a bit too flexible for comfy front-pointing, though. The snow was really perfect and even in the steepest areas the pucker factor I've had on other snow climbs and had been expecting here just was not there, other than in the potential for nasty rockfall.
View attachment 79326\\

Looking back down.
View attachment 79331

Whoops, crampons need adjusting. Be quick about it, dude!!!
View attachment 79332

At this point we heard our first rockfall-- a few fist sized rocks were popping off the big cliffs and bouncing around. None of them came close to us but it did create a sense of urgency. Here we're finally above the bulk of the rockfall.
View attachment 79334

And finally I'm at the top. Hi Brian!!!
View attachment 79336

This picture is mandatory, I'm not sorry.
View attachment 79339

Summit view.
View attachment 79343

Looking down from the top of the E couloir.
View attachment 79349

Looking E at some Oquirrhs and Wasatches.
View attachment 79350

This is the part of the hike near peak 10874 where there's often a small snowfield to cross into mid/late summer. To the left of the melted out talus patches you can see some tracks from where @danger02ward and his buddies glissaded a week earlier, Our glissade tracks are to the right in the photo. This was a super fast, fun glissade, very steep at the top with a nice runout.
View attachment 79353

Looking up at N and S Willow Peaks.
View attachment 79354

There was also a nice long glissade down the top of Mill Fork, but not fast since there were a lot of trees in the way and no safe runout. Then an easy walk out. Last couple times I've been to Des Peak I've been stopping for coffee or iced tea at Java Bean in Grantsville, I recommend it.
Very nicely done, Mister! and great report. Des Peak is a great spring climb. I have never done the right hand couloir - always the left and usually with a rope and cramps. Good on ya to go through the shooting gallery quickly and safely. I love that glissade down too. Great fun.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
952
hey @Artemus can you elaborate on the ropes a bit? I assume the fall danger doesn't justify a full belay, which slows the group down a lot. so I guess running protection? of course I can read Freedom of the Hills, but I'm curious about what you specifically thought was a proportional response to the level of danger here.

it's been about 10 years since I did any roped mountaineering and I'm rusty, but I have a small pile of pickets and flukes in the basement...
 

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,297
hey @Artemus can you elaborate on the ropes a bit? I assume the fall danger doesn't justify a full belay, which slows the group down a lot. so I guess running protection? of course I can read Freedom of the Hills, but I'm curious about what you specifically thought was a proportional response to the level of danger here.

it's been about 10 years since I did any roped mountaineering and I'm rusty, but I have a small pile of pickets and flukes in the basement...
Well it probably wasn't absolutely necessary but was good practice. That plus the couloir curves a bit so a slide for life or long self arrest could tap a wall on the way down. The rock wall is convenient so we just set some rock pro on the way up and the leader belayed from the top again with some rock pro.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
952
Well it probably wasn't absolutely necessary but was good practice. That plus the couloir curves a bit so a slide for life or long self arrest could tap a wall on the way down. The rock wall is convenient so we just set some rock pro on the way up and the leader belayed from the top again with some rock pro.
Thanks!
 

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