Dromedary Peak

Elevation: 11,107
Location: Wasatch Range, Utah

Dromedary Peak is among the highest and most rugged peaks in the Wasatch. It's peak is seldom climbed, and any route to the summit is an all-day event with a lot of scrambling.

Silhouette from upper meadow in Broads Fork

The most popular routes up to Dromedary are from either Broads Fork or Lake Blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Both routes converge up high on the mountain on the ridge seperating the two canyons. The time I climbed Dromedary we did it from the Lake Blanche side. Either side is about ten miles roundtrip, with a climb of nearly 5,000 feet. Plan on a full day, and get an early start.

I did this climb in August of 1996 with the Wasatch Mountain Club, and it is where I met John (who led the climb), whom I've done a number of excellent climbs with since then. My friend Dan also joined us on this climb, and a fourth climber, a woman recently moved to Salt Lake from Washington state. We started early, around 6:30 am. The hike follows the standard hike up to Lake Blanche. As I had almost no sleep the night before most of the hike up to the lake is a blur in my memory.

Lake Blanche is quite possibly the prettiest place in the Wasatch. By arriving at the lake around 8 am, we were the only ones there as the sun was rising over Mount Superior to the east. From the lake, the saddle on the ridge that needs to be reached is obvious. Look to Dromedary, the high bump to the west (you'll see Sunrise Peak, higher, behind it, and the even higher east Twin Peak behind that). From Dromedary, follow the ridge north to the obvious low point. You'll need to ascend the gully to that ridge. From the Broads Fork side, you'd have to follow the trail up to the "upper meadow" (see Broads Fork Twin Peak report, or Sunrise Peak report for more details of hiking up Broads Fork). From the upper meadow, it is a 400 foot scramble up loose rock to the ridge.

Dromedary and Sunrise Peak (beyond) from Lake Blanche.  Low point on right is where ridge is gained.

The easiest way to the basin is to find the west shore of Lake Lillian and cross the stream into the steep gully. If you're lucky, you'll find a spot with logs across the stream. John had already climbed the peak numerous times, so he knew exactly where we were going. Climbing up this gully is tedious. It is grass and rocks, and seemed to have a number of "holes" that my feet kept finding, threatening to twist or break an ankle. The final 20 feet is a tricky slab of smooth, slippery rock. From the ridge you'll now be looking down into Broads Fork and have a clear view of the route taken to Broads Fork Twin Peaks and it's steep headwall.

From here, the local guidebooks talk about going more southeast below the mountain and finding a crack there to reach the summit ridge. John had tried that way and didn't like it, and had found his own route directly up the ridge we were on. Following the ridge is a fairly easy boulder hop from 10,000 feet to 10,600 feet, where Dromedary rears up in earnest. Above us some mountain goats appeared and as I attempted to get their picture, just 20 feet above us I realized the battery on my camera was left on, and was now dead. Fortunately I had opted to lug a video camera up this peak, so I've got the "moment" on that.

From here, the remaining 500 feet was steep and exposed in parts. I highly doubt if I went back I could find our route, the only reason we were able to climb it was that John had been to the peak so much. It curved around a number of small cliffs, and finally had a straight shot to the summit. From the peak we got the staggering view down into Little Cottonwood Canyon. Clouds engulfed the peaks to the south, and it did not fill us with much confidence.

Summit cairn and ridge east of Dromedary

The wind was blowing steadily, and with the clouds threatening we didn't stay long. The view down Tanners Gulch was perhaps most impressive. I wish I had gotten some pictures, but I figure I'll climb it again sometime soon. To the west the rugged Sunrise Peak towers above, looking almost unclimbable. We could see climbers on the top of the Twin Peaks behind Sunrise. The three lakes, Blance, Florence and Lillian were visible far below. Mount Superior, being climbed by Chandler this day was visible to the east.

While we were on the summit, a solo climber emerged from the more standard route on the east side of the mountain. After talking to him it was apparent the route was pretty difficult also, and he opted to take our route down the mountain. The first 500 feet downclimbing from the peak is tough, and dangerous in spots. Once we were off of the dangerous spot we stopped and rested for longer. The views back down the valley were outstanding with the sunlight changing over the reddish rock of these peaks.

The descent back to the lake is even worse than going up, and it's a small miracle that I didn't break an ankle with a couple of tumbles I took on the steep slope. Once back at the lake, the trip down was fairly routine. I would say Dromedary is one of the tougher peaks I've done, but not as tough as it's neighbor Sunrise. It was a good climb, but not as enjoyable I thought as Superior or Broads Fork Twins. Nevertheless, I'm sure I will return to Dromedary if for no reason other than to get my own pictures from the summit, and enjoy the solitude found on this rugged peak.