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Reviews > Books > Field Guides > Climbing and Exploring Mt. Timpanogos > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

Climbing and Exploring Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos

Also Featuring: History of Provo & American Fork Canyons, Sundance, Heber Creeper, Timp Hike, Timp Cave, Air Plane Crashes, Hiking Deaths & Rocky Mountain Goats & Geology

by Michael R. Kelsey

Owner Review by Derek Hansen

DATE: July 17, 2008

Image - Book Cover

Inset photo courtesy


NameDerek Hansen
Height5’ 10” (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address derek·dot·hansen·at·mac·dot·com
City, State, CountryAlexandria, Virginia, USA


I began serious backpacking in 2005 after becoming a Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop in Virginia. Now, I overnight camp at least once a month with two or three week-long high adventure treks every year. I am venturing into lightweight backpacking and keep my base weight under 18 lb (8.2 kg). I use a hammock year-round, trees or no trees.


Publisher: Kelsey Publishing
Year Published: 1989
Edition: First edition
Weight Listed: N/A
Weight Measured: 10.45 oz (296 g)
MSRP: US$9.95
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
ISBN: 0-944510-00-0
Pages: 208
Binding: Paperback


Climbing and Exploring Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos by Michael R. Kelsey covers one of the most famous mountain peaks in the Wasatch Range in Utah’s Rocky Mountains, and certainly the most recognizable: Mount Timpanogos. Known locally as “Timp,” the summit reaches 11,749 ft (3,581 m)–7,000 ft or 2,134 m from the valley floor–and is the second highest peak in Utah (only Mount Nebo to the south is higher) and the most popular for hiking.

Kelsey’s book begins with a short introduction on the naming of Timp and contains a detailed history of hiking and climbing on the mountain. This first section has information on trailheads, water sources, and map references used throughout the book.

Image - Hand-drawn maps
Each major hike section has its own hand-drawn map with printed details and points of interest.

The next section covers, in detail, all the the hiking and climbing opportunities on the mountain from the most popular marked trails to backcountry hiking and climbing. Every ridge, canyon, and peak is covered in its own section with hand-drawn maps and black-and-white photography accompanying each report.

Image - Photography

The last section covers more history on the Mount Timpanogos area, including a history of Provo Canyon, American Fork Canyon, geology and glaciation, grazing, erosion, terracing, mountain goats, and tragedies on the mountain.

There is one page at the back of the book dedicated to further reading and resources on Mount Timpanogos.


I picked up Climbing and Exploring Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos in 2007 in preparation for a backpacking trek I was planning to take with my brothers the following year. Even after having the book for over a year in preparation, I still haven’t read through every hike and climb mentioned in the book. I was really overwhelmed with how much detail is in this book which covers about every conceivable (and inconceivable) route up and down the mountain.

I packed the book with me on the hike, and at our base camp location, we read through some of the history sections and were intrigued by some of the little-known facts about the mountain and the people who made it famous.


Image - North Peak
Maps and guidebooks did not prepare me for the scale of this mountain. North Peak (pictured) dominated our view as we traveled around to Timpooneke.

Having already purchased a few maps in preparation for my backpacking adventure, I wanted to get a field guide that gave a little more information about the area. I wasn’t disappointed after receiving Climbing and Exploring Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos; it seemed to have everything–and more–than I would ever need. The book gave great tips on the best springs and provided information on little-known facts and optional deviations to trails that would bring you to old ruins or landmarks.

My route changed, actually, after reading about the famous B-25 plane wreck on “Bomber Peak.” I discussed this with my brothers and we all agreed this would be something interesting to see along the way.

The author has hiked or climbed about every square inch of the mountain and it is obvious that he knows his way around. With each major route, he provides details about the route with an accompanying map. Also included for each route are elevation information, water sources, equipment needed, camping opportunities, and information on winter expeditions. Interwoven between this information are paragraphs of history and background details on the canyon names or other landmarks. Black-and-white photos are plentiful and include the author’s own hiking images and archive images that date back to the 1900s.

Image - Water
We found very little water on the front of Timp (around Big Baldy/Dry Creek) when we really needed it, but true to the book, springs and water were plentiful on the backside.

When I took my backpacking trek with my brothers, we found the information pretty relevant, although some of the water sources were spotty on the front side of Timp. Unfortunately, we had to cut our 30-mile (48.3 km) trek short because the upper trails to the summit were closed due to the snow coverage on higher elevations. We took a risk hiking so early in the season, which the book warned about, and we were disappointed with our summit attempt. However, the views at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) were simply breathtaking! We took a few day hikes up the trail to different waterfalls and soaked our feet in the snow-fed streams.

Image - Leaving Baldy
The hike in front of Little and Big Baldy was spectacular: lush and green with grass armpit-high in spots.

At base camp, my brothers and I enjoyed reading the history behind the mountain, including some of the tragedies. Perhaps not as good as a ghost story, but the facts added some intrigue as we nestled into bed each night.


Michael Kelsey’s book Climbing and Exploring Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos is a great resource for one of the most popular mountains in northern Utah. I found more detail in the book than I could use for my own trek. I learned about different approach trails and side-views that I would never have known about otherwise. Because of this book, I am looking forward to planning a follow-up hike soon to explore some of the lesser-known cirques and bowls in the upper elevations when I make it back West.

The history and background information on the canyons and peaks is very interesting and added a perspective on the mountain that added to my enjoyment of the hike.


  1. Trail maps are simple and and clearly marked.
  2. Full of wonderful photos that show nearly every side and peak on the mountain.
  3. Great history and background information on the area.


  1. Lacks an index.
  2. Could use an updated edition.

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Reviews > Books > Field Guides > Climbing and Exploring Mt. Timpanogos > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

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