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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Recon Mission: Cascade Mountain

This is one mountain that it's hard to find good beta on, at least online. All I found online was vague when not outright incorrect info. Because this seems to be a good AT ski mountain, I went there to take a closer look. Reading up on it and checking out the maps as closely as possible I decided to try a start at the Big Spring trail head, from there go west to the ridgeline and then go north on a long ridge hike to the summit. Although very simple as a hike, this is a looong one! You end up doing a (un)fair amount of mileage.

Although this is an easy summer hike, parts of this trail is on terrain that in the winter is going to be obvious avalanche terrain with terrain traps and all, so some mitigation strategies are going to be called for.

Bunnells Fork offers a faster access to the peak. However, the exposure to avy terrain in a narrow gully on the way up probably rules this one out for me.

Conclusion on skiability

In and by itself this is fantastic ski terrain, not to say epic. Unfortunately, it looks like the beautiful bowls under the peaks (Cascade Mtn and its two or three "sisters") present an avalanche risk just as epic. The larger bowls are gigantic and they are #1 prime avalanche terrain with no anchors nor safe spots to talk about. It would take a lot of familiarization before I would want to ski those bad boys. Having said that there are more modest terrain alternatives up there that may serve as appropriate acclimatization to this range. And that's what I've learned under this recon: the summit will not be my day one objective. I'll have to build up to it and maybe even limit this to a spring skiing objective. The drawback with that may be that you wouldn't be able to skin from the trail-head as it starts at just 5,600'.

Below are some numbers for this hike:

Starting elevation: 5,600
Elevation at the ridge line: 9,500
Summit: 10,908
Additional elevation from yo-yoing to the summit: 600

Elevation delta: 4,900
Total elevation gain: ca. 5,500 (lots of ups and downs on the ridge line)
Total distance roundtrip: about 12 miles

Directions from Park City:

Get onto the US-40 E to Heber
US-40 becomes US-189 that you take south past Deer Creek reservoir and down Provo canyon
Keep going leaving the Sundance turn-off to your right
About 5 minutes past the Sundance turn-off you will see the signs for Vivian park.
Take a left through Vivian park onto South Fork Road drive about three miles up the road
Drive past a few cabins/houses and pass South Fork park
You will see signs for Big Spring park and the trail-head is at the very end of the highest parking lot.

Directions from Provo:

Go north on University Ave
Turn right onto US-189
Drive about 11 miles up Provo canyon
Take a right into and through Vivian park onto South Fork Road drive about three miles up the road
Drive past a few cabins/houses and pass South Fork park
You will see signs for Big Spring park and the trail-head is at the very end of the highest parking lot.

For good info on this Mountain: Wasatch Tours - Vol. 3 - The Southern Wasatch, pp. 198 - 207

...and here are some pictures (click to enlarge):


TH at the Big Springs parking lot ...

You are going to follow 059 "Big Springs Hollow tr."

About 30 min into the hike you'll pas the City of  Provo worksite at the springs.

After that you still have another 4.1 miles just to the ridge line...

...then you'll be doing this kind of really slow progression
(elvationwize) for a couple hours or so.

About 2 1/2 hrs after leaving the trail head things are looking up with
the Cascade Saddle in the distance...

...things start to feel a bit more mountainy

Finally on the ridge line!

Taking a quick look south of the saddle towards Provo Peak
(the "terrace cuts" are an avalanche prvention measure).

Still south of the saddle, a look into Shingle Mill that seem to offer some
potentially pleasant skiing.

Looking down Big Springs Hollow

Looking North towards Cascade Mtn.

Sub-ridge in Big Spring Hollows fork.

Looking West is Utah Lake with West Mountain (6,804) in the distance.

On the way to the peak, some cliffy spots...

...with potentially steep skiing...

Found a lot of this type of large open terrain...

...some of it pretty mellow nut still sizeable...

...and some steep enough to get you through the powder...

...and some steeper than that.

And here are the hugely respectable (as in make sure to show a ton of
respect!) lines in the cirques under the peak.








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