Thursday, December 17, 2015

The earliest of Hikes up Notch Peak

By Lynn Arave

NOTCH Peak has been a landmark around the Delta area and the west desert there for centuries.
However, when was it first climbed?
The earliest account available is from April 19, 1930, when four men -- Blaine Cropper, Ellis Bennett, Lester Cropper and Wallace Nilson -- scaled its summit and left their names behind on a weathered piece of paper inside a stone monument on the summit.
These names were rediscovered more than eight years later on Aug. 20, 1938, when J H Belt of Salt Lake City climbed to the top of Notch Peak.
Another peak bagger, name, Louis Schoenberger from May 25, 1930, was also written on the aged paper.
As reported in the Millard County Chronicle of Aug. 25, 1938, Belt was stunned by the beauty of the area.
"On top I found a stupendous sight. Peak after peak arises in majesty across a vista of many miles," he told the newspaper.
Belt said he could clearly see Mount Nebo, Timpangogos Peak and even some Nevada peaks from atop Notch Peak.

                            Just below the summit of Notch Peak.

                                                           The Notch Peak Summit.

-HERE are highlights from an account of climbing Notch Peak, by Lynn Arave, from the Deseret News, Aug. 24, 1997.)

Notch Peak is a premier test for those with acrophobia; it's

the state's ultimate drop-off. 

Only cliffs in Yosemite National Park can rival this one, 

which is a dream spot for hang-gliders.

 Look over its northwest edge and it's a 3,000-foot drop, with 

another 2,000 feet of more gradual slope to Tule Valley.

Located 50 miles southwest of Delta, it's a five-mile, one-way hike through a narrow canyon. There is a 3,225 elevation gain to reach the 9,655-foot peak of this distinctively shaped mountain.

You can also enjoy refreshing solitude in this remote hike.

David G. rhapsodizes: "It's not heaven, but you can see it from here."
Carl B. takes in the view then decides to "sit back, close my eyes and imagine Lake Bonneville filled to the brim."
Notch Peak, the summit of Sawtooth Mountain, had its own "mailbox," one of those familiar general-issue tin versions embedded in an impressive rock cairn -- at least years ago it did.

According to a notebook inscription found therein, the mailbox was first placed there by the Wasatch Mountain Club in 1968. So shiny it looks nearly new, it is often stuffed with notes left by hikers - Scout troops, people in pairs and small groups - who reached the peak.
Notch seems to give just about everyone a tingle of acrophobia.
"Wow! Dang," Erick, Lisa and Sue succinctly exclaim.
"It gives me the heebie jeebies," notes an unknown scribe.
Sheer, steep, lofty, abrupt - adjectives don't do this escarpment justice. John Hart, in his book "Hiking the Great Basin," writes that a Notch Peak climb will refine your use of the word "cliff." It is, he says, "the ultimate drop-off."

Perhaps only El Capitan in Yosemite is a worthy rival of Notch Peak, in terms of sheer cliff-ness.
A hike to the top begins at the mouth of Sawtooth Canyon, on the mountain's southeast side. A shot-up sign meant to direct motorists to nearby Miller Canyon (the placard on the main unpaved road heading north says " 'er Canyon") sends adventurers west; at a Y intersection, the road on the right heads to Miller, while the one on the left bumps toward Sawtooth.
 Finally hikers head up a ridge toward the peak. Before they get there, though, the mountain suddenly breaks open and YIKES! A massive cleft opens up, a yaw that certainly contributes to the notch visible from scores of miles away. The mountain's limestone foundations swirl in a sequence of sedimentary layers.
From the peak itself, Notch, at 9,655 feet above sea level, drops 5,053 vertical feet on its west side to the bleak but beautiful sagebrush-and-alkali Tule Valley below.
That, as Fergus points out, is nigh on a mile.
Then there's the view from the top: a panorama of desert valleys and distant ranges. On a clear day there are more sights to behold than you may have time to drink in.
"Scenic overdose," two Provo hikers scribbled in a mailbox note.

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