Cottonwood Ridge Traverse

Everybody has their ups and downs. I had a whole lot of them the other day (Saturday, July 12,2014). My first UP started at 3:18am.

Jennilyn, my wife has been talking incessantly about doing the W.U.R.L. At the beginning of the year, she expressed her desire to have me join her on the first portion that makes up the Cottonwood Ridge Traverse. She felt like I would really enjoy it and that it would play to my strengths.

At 3:18am we (Jennilyn Eaton, Craig Lloyd, and I) found ourselves jogging from the Ferguson Canyon trailhead, heading up to the Storm Mountain Cirque. Because of W.U.R.L., we had to start there to summit the Broads Fork Twins instead of the usual approaches. Lucky enough, it allowed us to summit Storm Mountain (9,524') and an unnamed peak (10,350') before reaching the BF Twins.

Somewhere along the ridge-line before the BF Twins, we got to see the sunrise. Can it get any prettier?

From Ferguson Canyon to the BF Twins, along this ridge was nice and steep. I couldn't wait to get above 10,000' knowing that most of the climbing would be least the long consistent climbing.

I was elated to stand on the top of the East BF Twin (11,330'). Ever since I moved to Sandy, UT, the Twins have stared me down as I drive up 9,000 South everyday, making me think "I need to summit that." I finally got to conquer it and now when I see it, I think to myself, "I've summited that."

As a gear nerd, I was excited to borrow the Grivel Mago 15 Trail. Ever since it came out I've been itching to see how the single-shoulder running pack would handle. So I put it to the test on this peak-link-up.

The best part of this traverse was looking ahead and behind us. It was amazing to see the terrain we were about to cover and what we already covered. Some of the knife-blade-ridges looked intimidating, along with the steep scrambling sections. But they weren't that bad.

Following a long ridge is kind of easy in at least one aspect, and that is the fact that you always know your path of travel...just stay on the ridge. The only tricky thing was figuring out if we go left or right of some major obstacles like cliffs and pillars.

Running the actual traverse is kind of hard when there is so much of this involved. I'd describe the traverse as a high-altitude-scramble-fest.

At the top of Dromedary (11,107') we had two unnamed peaks before hitting the lat two major peaks (Monte Cristo and Superior). The terrain between Dromedary and Monte Cristo seemed long but was pretty mellow.

For being a rock climber, the scramble up the west face of Monte Cristo was the best part of it all. It provided just enough exposure and vert to make you feel like you were doing something amazing.

At the top of Mount Superior, I felt accomplished. At that point I had summited ~10 peaks in 10 hours, with at least 7 of them being over 11,000'.

The Grivel Mago 15 Trail treated me well on the whole thing. The major benefit of having a single-shoulder pack is that you can quickly swing the pack to your front to access your stuff. Jennilyn and Craig had normal running vests/packs and always hesitated when it was time to get something out of their pack. The single-shoulder pack proved to be very convenient. I carried 2 liters of water, a rain jacket, small first aid kit, energy food, headlamp, thin gloves, sunglasses, and a buff in the Mago. Still had room for more. The pack did well with not bouncing around. I thought my right shoulder would be super sore after the trip was done, with all the weight sitting on one shoulder for so long. Besides a few shot moments along the ridge when my shoulder felt tired, the single-shoulder aspect didn't do any worse than a double-shoulder pack. That myth was least for me and my shoulders. My two critiques for this pack is that it needs a hydration-hose hole. It has the sleeve inside but no hole for the hose to come out. I had to have the hose come out the zipper. Second, the water bottle holder can be a bit flappy when running. It was great having a water bottle up front while speed-hiking and scrambling. While running, I'd advise to take the water bottle out to avoid the flapping effect.