Sunrise Peak sits in the shadow of the higher and more popular Broads Fork Twin Peaks. In difficulty however, I think Sunrise takes a back seat to nobody...it's the toughest peak I've climbed yet. Many older maps show Sunrise as "O'Sullivan Peak", but the name Sunrise seems to be the more accepted name now.
The peak can be climbed from a variety of ways, all are serious scrambling or flat out mountaineering. Perhaps the most common way it is climbed is in spring via the snowclimb up Tanners Gulch in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This is not an easy climb, and only serious climbers do this route. By later in the season it is possible to climb the peak from Broads Fork via the Twin Peaks route, then going east from the saddle. It would also be possible to climb the peak via it's east ridge, but again, that is no picnic. I climbed the peak in September of 1998 via Broads Fork with John. John had tried three times and failed on the peak in 1996 before finding a way to it's summit, so he led the way.
We started early as all the peaks in this area require. By early morning we were at the meadow in Broads Fork looking at Sunrise towering above. Broads Fork meadow is one of my favorite places in all the Wasatch, as I've hiked there nearly 20 times. From the meadow, the trail crosses the stream on some shaky logs and heads up past some swampy areas into rockier terrain towards the "upper meadow" at 9,600 feet. The hike to the upper meadow is pleasant as you'll rarely encounter hikers beyond the first meadow. Now Dromedary and Sunrise Peak loom over you in dramatic fashion.
We took a rest at the saddle and contomplated our options. A man from Minnesota was climbing near us much of the way who'd recently climbed Colorado's famous Longs Peak, and was headed for Twin Peaks, which he reminded us has more elevation gain than the Colorado fourteener. I realized looking at the view of Sunrise (and Dromedary) from this saddle that if John couldn't continue, there was no way I was going to attempt Sunrise solo, so I started thinking I might just be doing a trip up Twins instead, which I was much more familiar with.
Fortunately after a rest, John was ready to go and we began the adventure of getting from this saddle to Sunrise Peak. We dropped down about 50 feet on the Little Cottonwood side and traversed around two sides of the mountain fairly easily. From here it got rocky and cliffy in a hurry. To remember the details would be impossible. John was on the lookout for a lone tree that they used in '96 to mark the route of ascent.
The views were great to be sure. To the south was the dramatic drop into Little Cottonwood and all the peaks of the Alpine Ridge. To the west I could see the nearly perfectly matched Twin Peaks. Further north was the valley far below, with Mount Olympus inbetween - also far below. Directly below was a nearly sheer drop of several hundred feet back into Broads Fork. Nearby Dromedary Peak looked equally menacing from here, but lower. Skies were turning darker as a snowstorm was forecasted for the next day. It took us two hours to cross from the saddle to the peak of Sunrise. The trip back to the saddle would take two more hours!
We went quickly down from the saddle. I am a terrible downclimber of loose and steep rocks and John was getting ahead of me regularly. Two climber who'd been on Twins were also coming down, and one of them took a nasty tumble in the rocks but fortunately was ok. We hurried knowing time was getting late. We had reached the summit at 2pm, been back at the saddle at 4pm, and were back at the main Broads Fork meadow around 7pm. By the final mile or so we were in darkness, and we staggered down the trail with John's flashlight. I was probably more relieved than maybe I've ever been when we staggered onto the pavement of the parking lot. I took John to 7-11 and bought him a drink for his help in climbing this monster of a peak.
Sunrise was a "one-timer". Nearby Twins are higher and more fun to climb I feel, but as an avid climber in the Wasatch, Sunrise was a must-do for me. I have as much pride in climbing Sunrise as any peak I've climbed including fourteeners in Colorado and California.