North Summit of Mount Olympus - November 6, 2016

Discussion in 'Hiking & Camping' started by scatman, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. scatman

    scatman Member .

    Salt Lake City
    Every few years, I get a hankering to leave the more popular and well traveled trail to the south summit of Olympus and head up to the north summit instead. My daughter, who had never been to the north summit before decided to join me. Since we are having such great fall weather here in Salt Lake City we decided to give it a try.

    The route we chose begins at the Neff's Canyon Trailhead and follows the dirt road past the water tank and on to the North's Fork where you turn up the old service road to reach the Mount Olympus Spring. After the spring, continue on up the trail until you have just passed Neff's Knob. At this point, look for a not so obvious trail off to the right. This trail eventually drops down into a rocky drainage which leads you up the second couloir from the north. If you continue up the main trail instead of turning off, this will lead you into a different couloir and a much more difficult (exposure) hike. Follow the drainage up to the head of the couloir where at this point you will contour around the slope until you reach a very steep wash. Once in the wash, you can scramble up to the ridge. After reaching the ridge, head east along it until you reach a cliff where you then have to down climb. At the end of the down climb, you will find yourself at the bottom of a chute that leads directly to the north summit.

    The trip ended up taking us most of the day. We left the trailhead at 8:15 am and returned to our car at 5:45 pm as it was getting dark. The hike up was all in the shadow of the north summit. Once we hit the ridge, it was sunny and a spectacular day. We enjoyed lunch on top before heading back the way we had come.

    Looking up at the north summit of Mount Olympus

    Old service road heading towards Mount Olympus Spring

    Katie making her way along the main trial

    Dropped down into the drainage that will take us to the top of the couloir

    The route

    The route

    Looking down at Neff's Knob with Grandeur Peak off in the distance at the upper left

    The route up the couloir

    The route

    The route

    The route - nearing the top of the couloir

    Grandeur Peak from the top of the couloir

    A plaque in remembrance of a woman who slipped and slid down a wash 1000 feet to her death back in 2009. My daughter spotted this along the way

    15.jpg Katie, contouring across the slope - heading towards the wash that leads to the ridge

    Approaching the wash

    Heading up the wash to the ridge

    On the ridge

    Looking east along the ridge

    Nice view of the Salt Lake Valley

    Katie having some trouble with the trees as she makes her way along the ridge

    Looking up the chute after the down climb

    About halfway up the chute

    Katie making her way up the chute

    Mountain goats looking down on us from the top of the chute. "You shall not pass!"

    North summit of Mount Olympus

    On top

    Enjoying lunch

    Triangle Peak

    Looking over at the south summit of Mount Olympus

    Wildcat Ridge

    On our way down - I'm getting ready to climb up what we had down climbed to reach the chute

    On my way up

    Dead tree on the ridge
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  2. slc_dan

    slc_dan Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior

    Salt Lake City
    I hit the normal hike route for the first time this summer, and that was pretty tough on it's own. This looks like a fun route! Did you make a gpx of it?
  3. Jackson

    Jackson I like to go outside. .

    Salt Lake City
    That's an interesting and awesome looking route. Looks like it was rough at times! Or maybe the whole time. I've been up Neff's twice now and I'm always surprised to see the different places you can go from that trailhead. I'd like to go find the entrance to Neff's Cave sometime.

    That's awesome your daughter was willing to go with you.
  4. scatman

    scatman Member .

    Salt Lake City
    Sorry, I don't have a gpx of the route though I did take three waypoints on my way down back in 2013 after I headed up the wrong couloir on that trip.

    All points are NAD83 UTM zone 12:

    Point 1 - 435063, 4502097 Intersection with the main trail up North's Fork
    Point 2 - 434676, 4501529 Where we took a break in the couloir on the way down
    Point 3 - 434324, 4501216 Where you gain the ridge from the steep wash

    On the first point, the trail actually dips down and then crosses the drainage you want. The trail then follows it on the west side for a bit before dropping down into the drainage proper. You could bushwhack up the drainage once the trail hits it but it is pretty nasty. Once in the drainage, you are on your way.

    When you get to the top of the couloir, you have a choice as you traverse across to the wash that allows you to gain the ridge - the high route or the low route. We took the low route on this trip which means you have a longer distance to scramble up the wash. The high route involves climbing up on a rock and taking a ledge that is maybe a foot to a foot and a half wide across a rock face that leads to the wash. I'm afraid that I'm to old to climb up the rock to get to the ledge anymore but this route does cut off about 2/3rds of the scramble up the wash. I don't think you would have a problem with either.

    Accessing the high route

    Hiking across the ledge on the high route

    The bottom of the low route which we took on this hike

    When you get to the point where you have to down climb off of the ridge, there is a relatively flat area you cross before down climbing again to access the chute that will take you to the summit. This flat area is rattlesnake heaven in the summer time so be careful when passing through. We saw six of them on our way through this small area back in 2010.

    danger02ward and slc_dan like this.
  5. scatman

    scatman Member .

    Salt Lake City
    Yeah, she is a trooper. She was pretty worn out after finishing the hike. I could hardly get out of my chair yesterday and am still sore today. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

    Once you leave North's Fork and start heading up the couloir, it gets really steep and stays steep until you gain the ridge. There is a slight break when you reach the top of the couloir and make your way to the wash, but it is a pretty short distance. This route is definitely shorter than the trail up the southern summit but it actually takes me longer to do this one. Could be a sign of age! :moses:

    Neff's Cave would be interesting to see. Maybe someone local can chime in and let us know its exact location.
    Jackson likes this.
  6. Jackson

    Jackson I like to go outside. .

    Salt Lake City
    It really would be. I believe I found the coordinates once before.
    The cave itself is locked up because it's pretty sketchy, but I've read that the USFS will sometimes (very rarely though) give permission to go in.
  7. danger02ward

    danger02ward Love the Mountains!

    North Ogden, Utah
    Very nice! Looks awesome!
  8. Meredith Dangerfield

    Meredith Dangerfield New Member

    HI! Anyone who has done this hike know how long the hike is and the miles? Is it hard, moderate, guessing not an easy trail.
  9. scatman

    scatman Member .

    Salt Lake City
    It took us 4.5 to 5 hours to reach the top which included a couple of breaks along the way. Once you leave the Norths Fork (off of Neffs Canyon), there is essentially no trail, just a route as you make your way up the couloir. Once at the top of the couloir, you'll contour along the slope until you reach a steep chute that will take you to the ridgeline west of the summit. Make your way along the ridge until you cliff-out, then down climb, making your way slightly to the southeast where you will find another steep chute that will take you to the summit. I would consider this a difficult hike (hard). It is more strenuous than the trail up to the south summit. It is approximately 2.1 miles to the to the top.

    Last edited: May 14, 2018