By Ben White
The calendar had turned from June to July and a few of my ski buddies; Justin, Kyle, Riley, and I decided that we need to have turns twelve consecutive months. We planned to ski on the Timpanogos Glacier on Saturday, July 7th. As we set out from Salt Lake at about eight in the morning, the weather was looking quite questionable. With dark clouds over the mountains and sprinkles of rain spattering the windshield and skis on the roof as we drove south on I-15 towards Provo, there was some talk of what to do if we showed up at the trailhead and it was pouring. We arrived at the Aspen Grove trailhead to clearing skies and shouldered our packs.
The hike up the Aspen Grove trail is amazing. Following switchbacks and hopping over the river and ducking under a waterfall, it gains elevation quickly. Many people who we passed thought it was pretty wild that we would go to all the effort of hiking to ski in July. As the trail reached the ponds up high, things leveled out and a feeling of remoteness washed over me, and it appeared that the other three felt the same way. At this point, the clouds had passed and the sun was shining in full force.
We took a break at Emerald Lake to eat our lunch with a view of North Timpanogos in the distance. North Timpanogos is where the Cold Fusion Couloir descends from. At the edge of the lake was where the glacier, which is more of a large, permanent snowfield, started.
We cruised up the snow and gained the ridge. Looking over the ridge provided a view of Provo and Utah Lake about 7000 feet below. After hanging out, eating some chips and salsa and relaxing, we clicked into our skis and began our descent. Whoops and hollers abounded, as the familiar feeling of freedom gained by sliding on snow returned. We passed a group of people who decided to stumble their way down the snow, which was pretty steep at the top, and returned to the banks of Emerald Lake.
I’m not sure whose idea it was, but we decided that after taking off our skis and boots and most of our clothes, jumping into a lake of snowmelt with a small iceberg would be a great idea. I went first, and it was predictably cold. Riley followed, with Kyle and Justin after that. The feeling of sudden immersion in icy water stopping your heart followed by panicked swimming for a whole fifteen feet is incredibly refreshing, and smiles split across our faces. After drying out a little bit, we put on our shirts and shorts and headed down the trail.
There’s a reason that we spent ten hours on Timpanogos, as well as why Fred Beckey considers it one of the greatest mountains in North America. The scenery is incredible and the mountain has an incredible amount to offer, with amazing lines to ski, phenomenal trails to hike or run, daunting mountaineering routes, and large cliffs to BASE jump. It has a powerful draw, and I would most certainly recommend experiencing it in some way to anybody visiting or living in the Salt Lake area.