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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-09-20||Route: Grand Traverse clockwise (N-S)
Info: No snow or ice anywhere en route. Upper basin beyond the end of the Bighorn Canyon trail had some boggy sections that were hard to avoid. Going up to the saddle at the head of the basin, we took a line farther left than Cooper‘s description suggests, and ended up having to climb a few short bits of "4th class grass" with some questionable rock mixed not - though nothing terrible. Climb to North Traverse Peak was very straightforward with only a few moves of 3rd class. The traverse itself: for the most part you either stay on the crest or go around the towers, depending on which looks most feasible. In many places you will see signs of passage if you look carefully (though not exactly a "trail" by any means). We climbed the crux tower (labeled "GT5" in the Cooper book) directly from the notch before it, basically following the obvious line of least resistance along a left-trending ledge-corner system, the back up and right to the ridge. The last exit move out of the corner system felt about 5.4; going straight up may be more true 4th class, but looked loose and dangerous, so we went with the short bit of more technical, but more solid climbing instead. In any case, it‘s getting off this tower that is really the crux (at least psychologically) of the route. The descent is not obvious, and if you don‘t take the time to find it you can get yourself in a really bad place. Basically, the key to finding it is to head south from the summit of the tower for maybe 50-75 feet, then look down and left (east) for a ledge system 50 feet or so below the ridge crest. The goal is to get on this ledge system, and then follow it carefully along, and eventually around and to the other (left/west) side of the tower, where it becomes a ramp leading down onto easier terrain. Getting down onto the ramp involved a few very exposed 4th/low 5th traverse moves, fortunately on mostly solid rock; and further on the ramp itself there was one other short but very exposed step-across, along with a couple of short bouldery downclimbs, before the terrain eased up considerably. There may be ways to avoid some or all of these dicier sections, but no matter how you do it, it‘s pretty airy. We agreed that folks who are less experienced/uncomfortable with exposure might want a belay here...let‘s just say that anyone who found any parts of the Keyhole route scary would definitely want one. Alternatively, it may be possible to go around this tower by descending the debris-filled gully for a bit and then climbing over a rib, though this would definitely require quite a bit of elevation loss. The rest of the route is more straigthforward, with short and mostly avoidable bits of less exposed 4th class here and there, including the "direct" finish to Grand Traverse Peak along the ridge. Descent to Deluge Lake and the trail is very obvious: just head down towards the lake over talus and grass, avoiding any obvious obstacles like the occasional small cliff band. The trail should be visible from this descent. We took about 12 hours to complete the traverse, as opposed to the estimated 10 in the Cooper book. This time included walking the road between the two trailheads (which is not included in the Cooper estimate) which is 2-ish miles. We sort of took our time on the Bighorn Canyon approach (which had some beautiful fall colors as an added bonus), as well as on the crux tower, but generally felt like we were pretty fast on the rest of the actual traverse. No matter how you cut it, it‘s a big day, but extremely rewarding!
|2014-06-29||Route: S slopes from Deluge
Info: ~8ish miles round trip ~4300‘ elevation gain First couple of miles of Deluge Lake trail is dry. Snow patches start around 10,200‘ or so - continuous yet early summertime firm from ~10600‘ until you break out into the basin where it becomes spotty again. S slopes can be ascended on dry tundra, with some snow fields to cross near Deluge Lake. E ridge to summit dry, until the last ~100‘ where the snow is holding on. Ice axe was nice to have to ascend the last bit. Other than the wind, it was a great day in the Gore Range! Pic 1: approaching upper basin -- to Deluge Lake. Tundra slope to saddle was out ascent route. Pic 2: crossing snow field to get to our ascent route. Pic 3: summit holding snow. Pic 4: crossing snow just beneath summit. Mt Valhalla, Mt Silverthorne, & Red Pk in distance (l. to r.) Pic 5: Deluge Lake still under its winter cover, Snow Pk and the western slopes to its saddle w/Valhalla Pic 6: pano of NW part of range Pic 7: Keller Mtn Pic 8: Deluge drainage on l., Bighorn drainage on r., and parts of the Sawatch on the skyline
Info: Approach is dry; ascent is dry (navigate around minor snow); traverse to N is dry; standard descent off N has a few snow patches that can be navigated around on scree if the snow‘s too hard to edge down; Bighorn descent is dry (a few trees to hop). Good day out with a great crew!