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  • CJ Wolf

Cold Fusion, Mt. Timpanogos Redemption Tour

Fast Facts:

· Base Elevation: 6,400

· Peak Elevation: 11,383

· Elevation Gain: 6,084

· Distance: 13.5 miles

· Elapsed Time: 8:04

· Date: April 29, 2023

Cold Fusion on Strava

My first attempt to ski Cold Fusion was April 18, 2020 and our party failed to reach the summit due to wet slide concerns so we had to conquering this beast to redeem ourselves. The spring of 2023 was the idea year because it was a record-breaking winter with Alta receiving over 900”. In 2020, we had to hike about a mile up Bear Canyon trail before we reached the snow line but in 2023 we skinned right from the parking lot. Below are photos of Bear Canyon TH in 2020 vs 2023.

Bear Canyon Trailhead
2020 Trailhead

Bear Canyon Trailhead 2023
2023 Trailhead

Touring from the parking lot
2023: touring from the parking lot

The entire tour is about 13.5 miles and 6k elevation gain so getting an early start is critical. We departed from the Mutual Dell parking lot at 6:40 AM and there were a few other parties departing just ahead of us. In aggregate, there were 14 people, including our group of 4, that summited/skied Cold Fusion that day. There is a segment on Strava called “Timpooneke Road Climb” which starts a little before the Cold Fusion couloir and it is 2.1 miles in length and 3,100 of vertical gain and it took me 2:32 which placed me 7th of all time.

The snow froze overnight so the bottom section of the Bear Canyon trail was hardpacked. It is 1.2 miles from the parking lot to Timpooneke Road and it took us 46 minutes to climb the 1,550. Even though it was only 8 AM by the time we hit the road, it was warming up fast and Lukas broke out the gun show in his tank top.

Start of Timpooneeke Road section

The next 2.5 miles is a gentle traverse along the Timpooneeke Road that only gains about 500 feet. There is a little down section just before crossing the big avalanche field below the Grunge Couloir.

Approaching Mt. Timp's avy field

The road wraps around to the northwest side of Timp and you are greeted with a full frontal shot of Cold Fusion. You turn off the road at about 8,500 and the real works begins with 2,883 of climbing over the next 2 miles. The bottom part was still firm and the snow depth was so abundant that it covered all of the shrub oak. Here is a photo of the bottom in 2020 compared to 2023.

Lower section of Cold Fusion in 2020
2020: Bottom section of couloir

Lower  section of Cold Fusion in 2023
2023: Bottom section of couloir

We skinned up about 500 feet into the couloir before we transitioned to booting. The snow was very unforgiving so we elected to put on our crampons from the start even though there was a boot pack set by the other groups ahead. I was shocked that we passed some guys that weren’t using crampons as this run continues to get steeper as you ascend. Based on the photo below of Lukas, you can see that he only has the toes of his crampons contacting the snow.

IMO, most of the couloir is a no fall zone because falling would result in a freefall down a 2,800-foot-long luge track. I am not going to sugarcoat it, the last 10% is quite precarious and of the 14 people on this run today- 6 didn’t go all the way to the top and our group was the only group to ski from the summit.

We reached the top at 11:20 and it was a beautiful, clear day that offered spectacular views of Utah Lake, the Great Salt Lake, SLC and the peaks of LCC including Lone Peak, Pfeifferhorn and American Fork Twin Peaks.

The temp was about 40-45 degrees at the summit with a slight breeze and our plan was to wait about 75 minutes to allow for the snow to corn up. At about 12:30 we concluded that the top section probably wouldn’t soften up and we were getting impatient. In hindsight, I wish we had waited another hour because the top section was absolutely bullet proof and terrifying. I didn’t make a turn on the top 200-300 feet as my skis were chattering and I was in pure survival mode. I think I made 5 very cautious turns over the next 200 feet of vertical. At this point, we were now deeper in the couloir and the sensation of falling off a mountain had subsided and the snow was slightly softer so I felt more confident to start marking turns. Below 10,000 the skiing improved to good and below 9,000 the skiing was fantastic corn skiing. As any addicted backcountry skier knows, it is not about the total vertical feet skied but the overall experience. Skiing Cold Fusion from the summit is no small feat and their is a finite window to ski this run given the avalanche risk thus making Cold Fusion a rewarding adventure.

Warm beers!

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