Salt Lake County Highpoint Trip Report

American Forks Twin Peaks (11,498 feet)

Date: June 3, 2001
Authors: Jennifer and Gerry Roach

This was a fun, early-summer snow climb. We chose to do this climb the day after Jennifer had run the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Ultra Run in Provo. Of course, the Snowbird Ski Resort was closed for the season, so crowds were diminished.

We followed the driving instructions in Miller and Weibel's book, "High In Utah." They told us to drive from Highway 215 in Salt Lake City, take the 6200 East exit, drive south on Highway 210 as it climbs steadily up Little Cottonwood Canyon and park in the Entry 2 lots for Snowbird's Summer Resort.

From the east end of the parking lot at 7,860 feet, walk across the bridge and follow a dirt road that continues east. Get on a trail that comes from the left of the Snowbird Center and follow it up to and along the Dick Bass Highway. Hike under the Wilbre Ski Lift to a junction just under the top of this Lift. Angle uphill to the right. The ski roads are obviously well marked but it can still be a confusing place. At this point, with all the snowbanks, we didn't follow the directions found in "High In Utah," but forged on another way.

We moved south and west crossing under another lift that is west of the Wilbre Lift. There was still a lot of snow around and we had one wet creek crossing. Our goal was to climb steeply up to the ridge line, which is a curving ridge running south, then southwest from the west side of the American Twin Forks massif. We did this easily at about the 10,200-foot level. The ridge was straightforward, but a rather rocky, narrow bushwhack in spots. It was slow going as we followed the long ridge for a mile to the 11,300-foot false summit west of the peak's main, western summit. There was one tricky spot of very loose rock sprinkled over hardpan mud. Once you reach the false summit, the going gets a lot easier, and we picked up a faint use trail.

The view from the main western summit (11,489 feet) is wonderful. Be sure to bring a camera! We did not find a register, but there were still mounds of melting snow on the cairn. The distant mountains of Timpanogos and Nebo looked tempting. It was an easy stroll over to the lower, eastern summit (11,483 feet).

Rather than retracing our steps down the ascent route with its unsavory sections, we chose to do a circle route down. We descended to the southeast from the eastern summit. It is a rocky ridge, but there are no major obstacles, only some easy scrambling. It appeared to be a use route up from the top of the Gondola. We followed the ridge less than a half a mile, then descended northwest down a steep snow slope. In June, the snow felt safe, and footing was good. Following many old and new ski tracks helped. Descending northwest into the Gad Valley, we picked up the ski road that runs under the Wilbre Lift. It was very easy from that point, and our descent was a lot speedier than expected.

The whole trip took us about 7.5 hours, and our total elevation gain was 3,629 feet. June was a nice time to climb this highpoint, and we managed to find a brand new pair of goggles, plus nearly $3.00 in change under the ski lifts! We looked in vain for the fabled 'money-clip.'