Mount Timpanogos ridgeline overlooking Utah Valley

Mount Timpanogos: A Palace of Contrasts

By Tyler Marshall
I know a giant’s hymn, and I miss the times I’ve heard it announce the dawn, amidst the soul of dark in the night. The air delights in the rhythms of this hymn in the shadows of its pages. I just wanted to write it… -Gustavo Bécquer, “Yo Sé un Himno Gigante”

Mount Timpanogos. This grandiose structure is a giant’s hymn. It has been a looming presence in my life. The mountain rises 7,000 feet out of the ground. Its summit ridgeline spans multiple miles across the Utah sky. Its very foothills are dramatic and impressive. They contain various peaks: Mount Mahogany, Little Mountain, Brush Mountain, and both Big and Little Baldy.

The east side of Timpanogos is gorgeous. It's home to Sundance Resort, and to miles of beautiful backcountry. These descriptive words contextualize the mountain; however, the words are largely empty. They fail to capture the grace and tenderness, the power and brutality of the mountain. I can’t encapsulate a full portrait of this epic formation with just thoughts and words. Maybe I can explore a bit of what Timp means to me.

Mount Timpanogos Wasatch Mountains Utah

The first glimpse I caught of the iconic shack on Mount Timpanogos was remarkable. I remember turning a corner, and losing my breath. (This may also be attributable to the altitude!) I could discern a pointy building in the distance. It was far above where I stood on the ridgeline. I couldn’t believe I had so much further to climb. I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Yet, I’d come so far, and was determined to reach the summit.

When I arrived at the shack, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was caught up in frustration. I had wanted to make the summit trip 10 minutes faster than we (my friend Adam and I) had made it. I looked around. I breathed. I soaked it all in. Below us, I could see Utah Valley. I shifted my glance to the other side of the ridge, and saw the beautiful, clear waters of Emerald Lake. I stared at the expansive ridgeline to the south. Then I looked to the line heading north. On the uneven ridge, surrounded by surprisingly energetic people, I felt humbled. This place was remarkable. It is remarkable. 

Two hiking and trail running friends pointing toward Mount Timpanogos

Mount Timpanogos is a place of intense beauty. It’s serene, and enlightening. I love it. Since that first trip, I’ve tackled the mountain from so many angles. Each time I summit, the mountain seems bigger, more vast, and harder to define. Yet, each new angle of the mountain offers a more heightened connection to it. It’s a very intimate place. This contrast is surprising.

Mount Timpanogos

There are so many specific episodes that I could recount in detail. One memorable time, three gigantic moose determined that a friend (Jefferson) and I wouldn’t make the summit.

In another instance, a member in my group took a swan dive into a rock as darkness began to fall. These, and other experiences brought disappointment, fear, and a symbolic darkness.

Yet, for each difficult experience, there are three times as many brilliant triumphs. I’ll never forget the day that another buddy (Bobby) and I climbed up a southeastern ridgeline. We traversed across the summit line to another peak called South Timp. From there, we descended the famed glacier.

Another time, two old friends (Kodi, Tyson) and I whooped and hollered all the way up, and all the way down the mountain. We beamed. Our cheek bones burned from stoked smiles. Once, my running coach (Coree) and I caught the most perfect portrait of the most perfect goat, perched on a dramatic landing.

Mount Timpanogos ridgeline with snow

Another time, a friend in passing (Elle) and I almost literally ran into one another, pulling ourselves out of a foggy reverie near the Saddle. There are a million details that I could share. 

On Mount Timpanogos I find the melding of contrasts. Rock fields meet pastures; lines are drawn between sunbeams and shadows; warmth and cold, dark and light collide; and solitude and fulfilling connection meet together in some strange melding of consciousness. A hymn announces dawn in the dark. On Timp, I find hope even in the gloomiest of nights.

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