(1) Summer 2006-ish. I mountain biked up from Ophir and toward Halls Basin following a route described in Michael Kelsey's Utah Mountaineering guidebook. I foolishly ignored a couple of NO TRESPASSING signs (the guidebook is outdated--don't go this way) and ended up diving into the bushes when I heard a woman coming up the road on a 4-wheeler. I got to within about a 1/4 mile of the cabin at Halls Basin when the woman on the 4-wheeler flew around a blind corner before I could take evasive maneuvers. After being scorned and sternly told hikers are not welcome on their property, I coasted back down. Feeling detested, I gave up on the peak and ended up checking out a few old mines.
(2) December 2009. Attempted summit with brothers Eros and Matt via the normal South Fork route a day or two after a heavy snowstorm. Even with snowshoes, the fresh deep powder slowed us down and we were not prepared to finish in the dark. We threw in the towel about 2 miles from the top.
(3) December 2011. Tried to climb the ridge extending northwest from Flat Top. This time, thick snow and oak brush bogged me down considerably, and I gave up after just a few miles. I vowed to never try a winter climb of Flat Top again.
Flat Top is not an extraordinarily difficult peak. In fact, hiking in summer and taking the usual route up South Fork, Flat Top would be an easy half-day hike. Even late winter or early spring with consolidated snow should be enjoyable as well. If there is fresh powder, be prepared for a long and slow all-day slog to top. In deep snow conditions, skis might be the ticket.
I guess I just like to suffer. On the 20th of January, I once again found myself trudging up the ridge in alternating patches of deep powder and slush. I was behind schedule and questioning my own sanity. But I couldn't fail again.
Once I got on the ridge between Lewiston Peak and Flat Top, conditions improved and it was pretty smooth sailing from there.
The last 2 hours of the descent were in the dark and I navigated solely by GPS and headlamp. That last bit of hiking in the dark was very peaceful and probably my favorite part of the hike.
Distance: 11 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 4,300 feet
Time: let's just say all day...and then some
|11,031-foot Deseret Peak tops the skyline above Lion Hill near Ophir, Utah.|
|Wind-swept ridge between Lewiston Peak and Flat Top.|
|Looking back to Lewiston Peak which is only about 200 feet lower than Flat Top.|
|The Ault family owns a large chunk of land near Flat Top and they like to make their presence known. While the route up Halls Basin is now clearly marked off-limits, the ownership status along other routes is not marked and can be quite confusing.|
|Checking the summit log on Flat Top.|
|A closer look at the old communication equipment on top.|
|View from summit ridge into smog-filled Utah Valley. Timpanogos Peak in upper right.|
|View to north into Ophir Canyon. The highest treeless peak (upper center part of photo) is Bald Mountain at 10,006'.|
|View to northeast into Salt Lake Valley and to the Wasatch Range.|
|The sun sets on Lowe Peak (10,589'), another peak I'd like to conquer some day.|