Broads Fork Twin Peaks Summit
· Summit Elevation: 11,330
· Elevation Gain: ~5,300
· Distance: ~9.5
· Moving Time: 6:20
· Total Time: 7:25
· Date: September 27, 2021
A week before this successful summit hike, Lukas and I attempted to summit this peak in the rain. We were hoping that the rain would only be intermittent but it rained hard and after 3 miles, we were cold and drenched so we turned around. In hindsight that was the right call because is a very technical summit and climbing on slippery, wet rocks is not advised. So we returned the following Sunday along with Willy and Cooper and the weather was a perfect fall day.
Don’t ask why but there are two Twin Peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Broad Fork TP is located at the western end of Little/Big Cottonwood whereas American Fork TP is located next to Snowbird. Both are considered among the top 5 most exposed & difficult peaks to summit in the Wasatch along with Lone Peak, Devil’s Castle, Mt. Superior and Pfeifferhorn. The eastern peak of Broad Fork is higher than its western twin by a mere 2 feet at 13,330. The most common route is up Broad’s Fork starting at 6,125 at the bottom of the S-Curve about 4 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The first two miles follow a very defined and steep trail through the woods. You gain about 700 ft. in the first mile and 900 in the second mile. When we did this hike, the leaves were at peak foliage. On the lower section of this hike, you traverse through some amazing aspen grooves. We were also treated to a moose family sighting with a cow and her calf crossing the trail first and then the BIG bull with extremely large antlers following suit.
At about 2.5 miles, which is before the meadows, the trail splits with the right going towards the meadows and the left taking you the proper route to the summit of TP.
Go left at this split and you will soon drop down to a little creek with a makeshift bridge. This will take you along the left flake of Broads Fork. At mile 3, you will start to enter the lower avalanche rock field.
Again- stay to the left on the lower section. The trail will become harder to follow but look for cairns and follow the worn trail as much as possible or follow along with the All Trails app. Your goal is to aim towards the saddle between Twin Peaks and Sunrise Peak. The boulders in the scree field will become increasing larger as you ascent but you should be able to pierce through it as long as you stay on the trail. About 200-300 feet below the saddle you will run into a steep section and there are two ways to go up this section. On the way up, we went on the left side (east) and on the way down we came down on the right side (west). Both are equal in terms of difficulty so just take whichever one the trail leads you to. The push to the saddle is your first taste of class 3 scrambling but it is relatively short.
Once on the saddle, you will turn right and head west towards the summit. The saddle separates Big & Little Cottonwood so from this vantage point, you will be able to see Snowbird, Pfeifferhorn and Lone Peak. The saddle is narrow but very manageable and if you hiked Pfeifferhorn before- it is not as tight as that ridge.
You will continue up the saddle and you will soon need to make a choice between doing the “crux”, which is taking the route on the left side (Little Cottonwood) of the saddle, or going on the right side (Big Cottonwood). I suggest watching some YouTube videos of these options. The crux is class 4 climbing and if you decided to do the crux- leave the saddle earlier than later to avoid having to down climb and then go across.
It is easier to access the crux from lower down and there is a worn path that you will see. Our group spilt up and Lukas went right on the saddle. If you elect to go this way, climb up until you hit a big rock wall and then go right. You will go out a few feet to a large dark rock and then turn left back towards the saddle and climb up a “staircase”. Willy and I decided to go left and take the crux route. The crux is definitely a steep, no fall zone but there are a lot of good foot and hand holds. Willy was a little apprehensive at first but he gained confidence throughout the climb and tackled it without any issues.
Once you get to the top of the crux, the most difficult climbing is behind you and you are now ready for the final push to the east summit. This last section only took us 20 minutes and you motivated to reach the peak.
Standing on the well-earned summit, you have phenomenal 360 views with SLC to your west, LCC peaks to the south, Mt. Raymond to the north and Sunrise/Dromedary/Superior to the east. We captured our breath and we unanimously decided we had to conquer the western Twin Peak as well. Lucas made a bet that he could get to the western peak in less than 10 minutes and I thought he was crazy. Sure enough- he accomplished his goal by doing it under 5 minutes. Willy did it in about 7 minutes and I did it in about 9 minutes but we were moving.
I usually don’t talk about coming back down because you just retrace your steps but on the way down we elected to take the Big Cottonwood side route on the saddle as opposed to dropping back down the crux. Again, I watched some YouTube videos and it shows people going down the crux but I am not a big fan of down climbing without ropes. The BCC side is much shorter but it is a little “spicy” as my hiking partners like to call it.
As we approached the parking, everyone was super stoked but those positive vibes quickly vanished when I realized that my Ford 150 wasn’t in the parking lot. I was hoping that my car was towed even though I parked it legally. I called the police station to ask if they towed my truck but they said it wasn’t reported so the only other scenario was that my truck was stolen. Yes, I didn’t lock my truck and I left the keys in the truck as I always have for 30+ years. I am an honest, trustworthy individual so I think all people are the same but apparently that is not the case. So word of advice, lock your car/truck and TAKE the keys - don’t leave them on your tire or some other silly place that you think an experienced car thief won’t find.