Hiking the South Ridge of Superior
“Mountains function as metaphorical and symbolic space. There is no more geographical equivalent to the idea of arrival and triumph than the topmost peak beyond which there is no further to go.”
-Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: a History of Walking
Finally did the South Ridge of Superior. What a spectacular exhilarating climb.
My very first day working at Snowbird Ski Resort, I sat down on the plaza and looked up at the mountain looming above me from across the street. Having just arrived from Georgia and the Appalachian Trail, it was wild trying to fit these crazy Utah mountains in my brain. It was hard to make sense of them. This mountain is called Mt. Superior, and it commands the landscape when you view it from nearly every direction. Driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon, a long rocky ridgeline works its way up to the summit of this mountain. This is one of the routes to the peak, called the South Ridge of Superior.
People in Salt Lake are kinda nuts. I hear of people doing the south ridge all the time after work, or to get a quick hike in, or to try and do it as fast as possible. Its not a climb you can fall on. Its not particularly difficult, but definitely exposed with big drop-offs on either side.
This will be my 3rd winter at Snowbird before I wander off again on another trek, and the South Ridge has been one of the most spectacular things I’ve done yet. In a way, it felt like a Salt Lake rite of passage, and that my ability to hike this ridge was a culmination of a bunch of things I’ve learned while living out here in this grand adventure state. Climbing big steep hills. Hiking the Wasatch’s rugged terrain. Scrambling! Care and good judgement in the mountains. Keeping a good head about you while in a sketchy or scary situation. Humility and respect for the danger and thrill that these mountains offer. LIVING. REALLY TRULY LIVING.
It’s not that you have to hang out on a knife’s edge cliff with hundreds of feet of exposure on both sides of you to be truly living. It’s pushing the limits of what makes you comfortable, whatever those may be, while trusting in your own ability to do so. I wouldn’t have been able to do this hike when I first arrived in Utah. But day by day, if you play in these mountains long enough, a little bit of bravery slips in, and the things that once scared you become home.