Confused if the mailbox is the top of Superior or if you need to continue to take the ridge West. Seems like most photos on google indicate that to be Monte Cristin but it didn't seem to take enough time to get to top of Superior based on other reviews and the interactive trail map shows the mailbox to. E short of final destination.
Any thoughts fellow peak baggers?
After reading reviews on another blog site, I decided that I would knock out two peaks in one day as Mount Superior (11,032) and Monte Cristo (11,140) are relatively close (Monte Cristo is 30-60 minutes past is the taller of the two peaks within hiking distance).
I went by myself on a busier day starting right behind the a town office in Alta- just across the road from some breakfast/brunch place. The trail is easy (anyone can do it) until you get to a quarter mile past the Pole (telephone pole?) and it took about 1/2 hour- hour to get to this point). Theres a trail that leads to the summit of Mount Superior but is very hard to follow and the majority is free clmbng a half hour after you pass the pole and reach Mount Superior. Took around 3 1/2 hours to get to Mount Superior. You will know you got to Mount Superior when you see a mail box full of notes and a pen on the peak. Other people I met at the peak said it took them 2 1/2-3 1/2.
Getting to Monte Cristo takes around 30-60 minutes depending on skill level, and Monte Cristo is not on the Map at the parking lot in Alta, or the free distributed one. These were my first major/tough ones so it took me closer to 60 minutes while the guy I met, it took him about 30-40 minutes. Again, all up hill and all free climbing with no trail- just rock. From Mount Superior there are two peaks (I guess the first one is what is called a false-summit?) in the distance and connected. Monte Cristo is the second one. You essentially go around/over the first one and climb up to the taller one.
I made the mistake of thinking that I would be able to do both by myself- but went on a busier day (Sunday) hoping that I would meet people a long the way. I met people on the way up and way down who had done similar terrain (I had not done any previously anywhere close to as challenging). and without them I may not have hit both as I would have likely played it safe and turned around at some point.
On the way back down around 7:45 I heard another group that had gotten lost/turned around coming down to Alta as they went up another route and lost the trail in the dusk.
While it's not impossible to do if you're inexperienced or not from the area, I strongly recommend (for all considering unless you are well experienced) finding a group to go with, packing a lot of water (not hot but it's all up hill free climbing) and going as early as possible. The elevation and physicality of the two are also something to consider so having done a few moderate peaks is something that helped me (I did Sunset Peak a week before and while it helped mentally, the free climbing was something else).
I have attached two pictures, the first of the summit and the second of the terrain climbing up- shortly before the trail runs out before reaching Mount Superior. The guy I met strongly suggested climbing on the rock opposed to the trail on the way down (and most of the way up) as the rock provided better footholds and didn't wobble like the sand (when you could pick up the trail)- and I found this incredibly useful and helpful.
Overall a 5 Star Hike, but proceed with caution and with at least 1 other person if possible. Be read yo to free climb the majority of both peaks and allow enough time.
I found that the trail wasn't clearly marked at the final push. When the trail becomes less apparent, you want to scramble up the rocks about 100 ft. This scramble doesn't appear to be that difficult, but a fall would be dangerous (Class 2); however, if you continue on the lower path below the ridge line, you are forced to climb up a steep, loose rock area, or if you prefer a rock climb. This area, although not hard is probably a 5.6. If you chose this route, if you were to fall, serious injury or death would occur. Again, not hard but something to be cognizant of. Overall, I found the hike beautiful, and the hiking moderate in steepness and difficulty. Great views. Done in summer. Exposed most of the way, so wear sunscreen. We started early in the morning.