Magazine article Sunset

Ascending Mount Olympus

Magazine article Sunset

Ascending Mount Olympus

Article excerpt

Mount Olympus is a weighty presence in Salt Lake City, its snaggletoothed form godlike and watchful. I grew up in its shadow, so close that the streets of my neighborhood continued the Greek theme with names like Apollo and Hermes. Olympus was as important to my childhood as Idaho Spud candy bars. But I never hiked to its top.

So, a few decades after leaving Salt Lake, I return with one goal: to ascend the 9,026-foot Olympus. With my sluggish, sea-level blood, the 31/2-mile climb (with more than a 4,000-foot elevation gain) will be a bit of a challenge. For most of the hike, however, I'm followed by a family with two young kids and a toy poodle. They giggle and I sweat as the trail ambles through open foothills, slides into pretty Tolcats Canyon, then climbs and climbs to a fir-shaded saddle 3 miles up, by which time the poodle's cheerful yapping has become a personal insult.

The hike's last 1/2 mile requires some care: from the saddle, the trail pushes north up a couloir and is easy to lose among boulders. …

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