Climbing MOUNT TIMPANOGOS, Provo, Utah

Elevation: 11,749'            Elevation Gain: 4389'

July 21, 2020


Mount Timp, as the locals call it, is the second highest mountain in the Wasatch Range (only Mt. Nebo, which I climbed in 2015, is higher at 11,928'). After a twelve-hour climb on Kings Peak the day before, I opted to sleep a bit longer, so began this climb late in the morning at 0830.

Timp is set apart by its location, towering high above the Provo, Orem, and Pleasant Grove areas, rising 7000 feet from the valley floor. This mountain may be the most popular one in the state of Utah and is certainly the most climbed. Mt. Timpanogos is a huge mountain, extending almost seven miles in a north to south direction with many of its peaks reaching over the 11,000-foot mark. There are 2 main trails that lead to the summit, joining at a gap not far from the main summit. I opted to use the Timpanooke Trail instead of Aspen Grove.

This approach provides over 14+ miles foe the round trip starting at an elevation of 7,360 feet. Total elevation gain is 4389 feet. As you head up the trail, you see Scout Falls to your left. Nearing the short access trail to the falls, you encounter a switchback and cross two wooden "bridges" that keep your feet dry as you go past a swampy section. The trail then switchbacks toward Scout Falls which has a sign announcing the short trail. The Timpanooke trail goes to the right when you meet the sign and you have one more switchback to deal with. The trail then leaves the switchbacks and starts up toward the first bench.

The first feature of note is called the "Giant Staircase" and gives a good feel for the geologic structure of this area. You start to get views to the north showing off some of the other rugged peaks such as the North Peak of Timp and Mill Canyon Peak. The trail climbs and contours, climbs and contours until you eventually find yourself with a view of the north face of Mt. Timpanogos when you enter the basin at 10000+ feet. The north face is a sheer 1630 foot drop and is quite impressive.

The Aspen Grove trail intersects the Timpooneke trail nearby and the two join up just prior to reaching the saddle. From the saddle, you get tremendous views down onto the cities of Provo and Orem and further out to Utah Lake and the mountains beyond. For many, this is a good point to turn around at.

For those who want the summit, another 700 feet of elevation remained with about 1/2 mile of trail. A small hut on the summit was built as a triangulation station for Utah county in the 1920's.

Timp has the only real glacier in Utah, although it is relatively small. The glacier is one of the highlights for many of those who summit the mountain, using it as a quick descent route. The vast cirques and basins were carved and gouged into this mountain by much more extensive glaciation as recently as 12,000+ years ago.

After reaching the summit I asked to tag along with a family from Cache Valley who were going to descend by glissading the glacier back down to Emerald Lake (see map below). After wrapping around the ridge to the south for a half mile or so, we reached the cornice of the glacier where we slid on our butts on the 30-degree slope in the soft snow. It was pure fun sharing the slide with this nice family on a perfect day to be in the mountains.

The record to the summit via Timpooneke is 1:15:36, established August 12, 2006 by Danny Moody, a member of the Sojourners Running Club. The fastest documented time to the summit and back via the Timpooneke Trail is that of Phil Lowry, 48, of Mapleton, Utah, who did the round-trip in 2:55 on August 9, 2009. Multiple uninterrupted summit records include that of Lowry, who has run to the summit and back twice in succession in 6:45 via the Timpooneke Trail, and the endurance record of David Crockett of Saratoga Springs, Utah. He is the only person who has ever climbed the mountain five times, back to back. He did so on the Timpooneke trail on August 18-19, 2006. Youth records include that of Phillip Lowry III, at age 13, who ran to the summit in 2:29:30 on July 31, 2008, and Ian Lowry, at age 16, who reached the summit in 2:17 on August 11, 2008. On August 18, 2007 James Leblow, at age 12, reached the summit in 2:41:28 via a circuitous route on the Timpooneke and the Emerald Lake cutoff trails. More recently, Kaden Hunter ran to the summit from the Timpooneke trailhead on July 26, 2010 in 2:13:40.

Since I was a bit worn from my 25-mile climb and jaunt the day before I relaxed on my hike up the mountain, but still made the summit comfortably in a bit more than three-and-a-half hours. After the glissade down the glacier I was feeling invigorated, so easily descended back to the car by running the entire way.










At left, Mt. Timpanogos is one of only eight 5000-foot prominence peaks in the state of Utah. Aaron Maizlish has put together this fantastic map above of the Western United States showing the peaks that qualify for this special rating. More information on prominence can be found at this site: Check out all the maps they have put together, it'll keep you busy on a rainy weekend.

Utah has (8) 5000 ft. prominence peaks: Kings Peak, Mt. Peale, Mt. Ellen, Mt. Nebo, Mt. Timpanogos, Mt. Ibapah, Deseret Peak, and Flattop Peak (in the Oquirrh mtns).