Have you ever been in a situation where the thought “I could die right now” runs through your mind? I am sure that many of us have been through a sudden event that scared the daylights out of you, but have you been in a situation where you had time to think about how a mistake could potentially end your life? That is exactly what went through my mind the day I first attempted to summit Mount Superior… and I loved every second of it.
The first time I had attempted to summit Superior was at the beginning of my first summer in Utah. My friend Ty asked me if I would like to go for a hike in Little Cottonwood Canyon. I was very eager to get into the mountains so of course, I obliged. We were going to attempt a scramble up the south ridge of Superior. In the picture above it is the ridge line along the prominent left aspect of the mountain. Little did I know that several fatalities have occurred on the route. We parked at the Alta ski area and followed the highway back down towards the base of the south ridge.
As we began the scramble I was overcome with excitement. This was my first true adventure into the Wasatch. We scrambled upwards with a very fast pace. The ridge seemed to have abundant holds and good rock earlier on. As we gained elevation, the ridge began to take a much steeper pitch.
Our route selection may not have been the best as we ended up in an area where the holds were very insecure. Rocks were sent rocketing downwards as we pulled them loose. Ty and I made the decision to turn back and down climb as we were not ready to take on the knife-edge. There was serious exposure where a slip would result in a tumble down thousands of feet of exposed rock. Once we made it back to the car we enjoyed some cold ones and planned to come back and attempt the summit from the less exposed east ridge.
I went back to Little Cottonwood Canyon in August of last year to make a hike in the Cardiff Pass area. An attempt to summit Superior was not planned. After reaching the top of a small unnamed summit on the ridge line, I realized I was on the route to take the east ridge towards Superior.
There was a faintly recognizable hiker made trail approximately 20 feet below the ridge on the LCC side. I followed the route with caution and was elated to finally reach a goal that I had set after Ty and I had turned around on the south ridge. My comfort with exposure was much higher than earlier that summer. I have grown to love the adrenaline rush from climbing and hiking in the Wasatch. Challenging your confidence and skills in tough situations is a refreshing way to experience life. I can’t wait to get my scare on again this summer.
Original Photography by Brad Wynalek and Ty Falk