“Are you sure this is where the trail starts?”, Jamie wondered aloud, as we shwacked through claustrophobic thickets of willow and alder, generally aiming for the start of the South Ridge of Mt. Superior.
“No. It’s just where I’ve always started before.” Ironically, climbing one of the most famous, continuous, and striking ridges in the Wasatch begins with a trail-less bushwack to reach the toe of the ridge. Unless I’ve always started in the wrong place. Which Jamie seemed to think was likely.
Nick, Jamie, and I got out of Salt Lake late for our “quick” scramble up Mt. Superior. It was 6:30pm and we were still sitting in traffic on I-215, muttering to each other that perhaps we should go find a watering hole and watch basketball instead of climbing the 11,040 foot mountain. But in another 30 minutes we departed the car, looked up, and began the climb.
The climb on the South Ridge is steep. The initial climbing isn’t really ridge climbing–it’s follows broken buttresses of rock, and there are many potential paths. Later on the buttresses get more and more narrow, and soon you’re find yourself on an incredibly exposed knife-edge ridge. Definitely one of the most dramatic locations in the Wasatch.
The climb up the ridge is not a hiking trail. If you stick to the ridge proper there are several short sections of low fifth-class climbing. Many people free solo the route in approach shoes, but the more prudent decision is to bring an 80-100 foot thin rope, several slings, and a very light rack. Because of the loose rock a helmet is a great idea, as is having an acute awareness of where your climbing partners are underneath you.
Ninety minutes later, the three of us gave each other high-fives on top of the peak, basking in the golden glow of the setting sun.
For more resources on climbing the South Ridge of Mt. Superior, follow these links: