Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunset Peak via Catherine Pass

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sunset peak via catherine pass
Sunset Peak (10,648 ft) has been on my hiking to-do list for almost 2 years! Why haven't I done it sooner?! It's a very accessible peak to summit year round, as long as avalanche danger isn't high. Sunset peak offers a 360 degree view of the Wasatch Mountains, plus a view of Heber City, Park City, and the Salt Lake Valley. Hiking up via Catherine Pass/Alta contains a great mix of meadow, wooded areas, a fantastic vistas. Hiking this trail provides for a good workout, but getting to the peak doesn't require months of training.


*Always check avalanche conditions before hiking in Winter.*

 From SLC and I-215, take exit 6 for 6200 S. Continue on Wasatch Blvd, past Big Cottonwood Canyon and the 7-11 gas station. The road will curve into Little Cottonwood Canyon - drive to the very end of the road, past Snowbird, up to the winter gate at Alta. 

Distance: 7 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 1,880 ft
Time: 4-7 hours
Dog friendly? No dogs allowed in LCC
Kid friendly? Yes, older kids
sunset peak via catherine pass
 This is the winter gate at Alta, and where you'll want to start hiking during winter. During summer, you can drive up this part, and make the hike shorter.
sunset peak via catherine pass
 You can follow the road up to the actual TH, or if you are familiar with Alta Ski Resort, you can cut some distance off by hiking up the ski runs. What a great view of Sugarloaf Peak!
sunset peak via catherine pass
 Once you reach the top of Sunnyside chair lift, head East past these brown trail markers. We had 14 strong hikers in our group!
sunset peak via catherine pass
 Eventually you'll come across this meadow. In summer this meadow is dry, but will be a mud pit from spring run off.
sunset peak via catherine pass
 On the ridge and ski boundary for Alta and Brighton Ski Resort, with Sunset Peak above my head. Head right at the ridge, towards the peak. From this point, you are about 0.5 miles from the summit.

Two pieces of gear I highly recommend getting for Winter hiking are Kahtoola Microspikes & Gaiters. Microspkes are a traction system, that digs into ice and snow, to prevent you from slipping. You can literally walk on a sheet of ice with them. They fit on any kid of shoe, and can fit into a pocket when not in use. You can get them online or at a local sporting goods store from anywhere of $60-70. Gaiters help keep snow out of your shoes, and help keep you dry and keeps debris out.

sunset peak via catherine pass
 15 minutes later you'll reach Sunset Pass, where the Great Western Trail is. Continue East towards the peak. Right here there are 2 trails - going left will take you up to a smaller peak, and going Right will lead you to Sunset Peak.
sunset peak via catherine pass
 Most of the trail was packed down, but once we hiked just past Sunset Pass, the snow was knee deep, and we took turns breaking trail. Be VERY careful in the section - there are 100+ft cliffs right by you and if you take a step that isn't sturdy, you can fall down. Hiking with trekking poles can help determine if the snow if packed underneath or how deep the snow is. However, trust you gut and if it doesn't feel safe, don't cross this way.
sunset peak via catherine pass
 Finally, we reach the last push to the summit!
sunset peak via catherine pass
On Sunset Peak with fantastic 360 degree views of the Wasatch Mountain range. It took my group roughly 3 hours to the top. The snow definitely slowed us down.
sunset peak
I love being able to wear a tank top in winter!
 Here are two map views to help guide you.


2 comments:

  1. I saw someone with Gators and was so envious on my Mount Olympus hike! What a great idea! Looks like a gorgeous snowy hike!

    Katie @ Katie Wanders

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    Replies
    1. Gaiters are the BEST! So helpful to keep snow out of your shoes. This is the kind I have: http://www.rei.com/product/856689/rei-mountain-gaiters.

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