Mt Olympus

Mt Olympus is one of the most imposing peaks on the Salt Lake City skyline, and also one of the most popular. It’s West Slabs, which face the University and downtown area, are a popular scramble that starts with 5.4 climbing before mellowing into a few thousand feet of class III-IV. This route also becomes what is perhaps the most asinine of the descents chronicled in McLean’s ski guide, The Chuting Gallery. A real collector’s piece.

While the West slabs top out the North summit of Olympus, the hiker’s trail tops out the main peak, which is a few feet higher and is divided from the North summit by the West Couloir of Olympus.

The bird hangs out on the pad, with Mt Olympus between the rotor blades.

It’s a steep trail, and very busy on any given day. Still, I got off of work around 1 pm with plans to run Lone Peak, but changed plans looking at the thunderheads developing over the valley. If a bombing run started, it would be a lot quicker and safer to turn around on Olympus, and I’d get 80% of the vert I’d planned on.

Flat, buff, totally runnable.

My legs were more hammered than I’d expected after Kessler the day before, but with fat raindrops and distant rolling thunder floating about, the trail was nearly empty save for some hikers heading down to their cars.

The valley floor drops away quickly.

The trail quickly climbs up above the valley floor, with some good sections of low-grade trail actually suited to running. At the halfway point, though, it kicks up steeply on blocky terrain and I was reduced to fast-hiking with the occasional trot.

I don’t know that this section would be that fun if the rock was wet.

The final bit of trail up the summit block is a solid chunk of 3rd class scrambling on solid quartzite rock. It’s steep enough that I noticed it on the descent, but cruised it on the way up, in a focused but hypoxic haze.

Looking northward from the summit towards the city and the Great Salt Lake.


The Wasatch front darkened by clouds and crappy iPhone camera.

The summit was beautiful, and I enjoyed its solitude for a while before subjecting my quads to a solid hammering on the descent. From the summit, the bulk of the Wasatch front stretched to the South, darkened by the thunderclouds that had thankfully held their peace. To the Northwest sprawls Salt Lake City with the Great Salt Lake beyond.

I took my time on the way down with aching legs, making no proud time of the descent. Succumbing to my animal instincts, I then promptly ruined my dinner with carnitas tacos at Hector’s before passing out on my sofa.


Category: Running


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