The prominent half-peak or "notch" visible in the horizon in the above photo is recognizable from nearly anywhere in Utah's west-central desert near Delta. There are taller peaks in western Utah, but I can guarantee that none are as imposing as the north face of Notch Peak, the second highest peak in the House Range (Swasey Peak to the north beats it by about 23 feet).
In order to bike/climb to the top of Notch in one day, I had to get an early start. The sun was coming up just as I passed through Delta and was entering the heart of the Sevier Desert.
Wanting a little more of a challenge, I passed the traditional trailhead up Sawtooth Canyon and opted to park at the mouth of North Canyon and bike up through Amasa Valley. After about 5 miles of pedaling with a gain of nearly 2000 feet, the salty sage-covered flats of the desert gave way to a surprisingly alpine Amasa Valley.
The high point in the photo above is Pine Peak. This is where I ditched my bike and began to ridge walk toward Notch Peak. Amasa Valley is filled with cliffs and boulders of granite - part of a massive Jurassic-aged pluton.
Nearly anywhere you find a granitic magma intruding into limestone, you find mining districts, and Amasa Valley is no different. You can clearly see the light-colored mineralized vein that the miners were chasing after in the above photo. I would have liked to explore the adit a bit, but I had a Halloween party I had to get home to. Maybe next time.
NOTE: you have to click on the some of the pictures below to get a bigger image and to get a better idea of the scale of some of these cliffs.
The gently sloping east side of the house range gives little indication of the shockingly steep and rugged west side of the range that comes into view once you reach the summit ridge. You basically have to make your way for 3-4 miles along this ridge with a 2000-foot drop to one side.
Above: The full north face of Notch Peak first comes into view about 1/2 mile from the top.
Above: you're looking at nearly 3000 feet of Cambrian and Ordovician limestone that compose Notch Peak. This may be the biggest limestone cliff in the U.S.
Twisted bristlecone pines are a constant companion along the summit ridge.
View from the top of the 9654-foot-high summit.
Above: view to the SW into southern Tule Valley.
Above: Looking north along the rugged west side of the House Range.
Final numbers (round trip): 18 mile/3600' vertical gain bike; 4.3 mile 1500' hike. It took 4 hours to get to the top and about 6.5 hours round trip from the mouth of North Canyon.
The video below gives you an idea of how windy it was on top, and a view down the north face at the end.
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