Mount Timpanogos Winter Safety

Be very clear on this: given half a chance, Timp will kill you. Many of the people who have died on Mt. Timpanogos in recent decades have died in the winter, usually because of avalanches. If you don’t spend the time and money to buy a beacon, probe, and shovel, to take at least an Avalanche 1 course and a Rescue course, and to study the Utah Avalanche Center avalanche forecasts regularly, you will die.

Yes, You Will Die

There are many things to do on Mount Timpanogos during the winter that are relatively safe: downhill skiing at the Sundance Mountain Resort; cross country skiing at the Sundance Nordic Center, the Aspen Grove Family Camp, or along the Little Mill trail in American Fork Canyon; or snowshoeing near trailheads. However, there are also things to do on Timp during the winter that are very dangerous. Going high on the mountain without the proper gear and training is the one of them. Mt. Timpanogos gets cold, and will freeze you if you aren’t bundled up. However, most people know to bundle up to avoid hypothermia. Many people, though, either don’t realize that Timp routinely releases massive avalanches, or they figure they’ll just roll the dice and hope they avoid one. You are going to die. If you prefer that to happen late in your life, don’t go high on the mountain in the winter without first having gotten a beacon, probe, and shovel, taken at least an Avalanche 1 course and a Rescue course, and regularly studied the Utah Avalanche Center’s avalanche forecasts. Also, don’t assume that staying off avalanche prone slopes will keep you safe—you need to beware of runout zones as well (here is an example of an avalanche running out across the flats just above Aspen Grove).

Sitting through a one hour avalanche presentation at REI, or studying KBYG information online, or reading an avalanche book by Bruce Tremper or Allen & Mike may be a good start, but is not a substitute for also investing in an Avy 1 course and a Rescue course (although the KBYG introductory video is pretty amazing). Between the Avy 1 and Rescue courses, and the avalanche safety gear, you may be out several hundred dollars. Just bite the bullet, and do it. Funerals cost more.

There are a number of books on Wasatch ski touring, and there are various ski touring-specific maps, to give you ideas about where to go. When you run across the Facebook page created to allow local backcountry skiers to partner up for trips, you’ll notice that you can’t even join that group unless you’ve completed formal avalanche training. Because no one else wants to die because of your cluelessness.

Apart from general information on avalanche safety from the Utah Avalanche Center and from Avalanche.org, there are plenty of good AIARE Avy 1 courses to choose from all through the winter (there are also AAI courses).

If you are one of the very few with enough sense and fortitude and training to travel somewhat safely in winter backcountry, here are examples of what awaits you on Timp:

Special Additional Content

For strange and unknown reasons, some people may think that the content of this web page is bleak. No, and indeed your humble webmaster is known for his positively effervescent and relentlessly uplifting nature. But to make sure your visit ends on a high note, here are three inspirational videos:

Last updated in 2022 as people wondered where the snow had gone.

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