| Pettingell Peak - East Ridge
On Saturday, me and a couple buddies went to check out Pettingel Peak and Herman Gulch. I had been reading about the east ridge after seeing someone mention it in the "beginner scrambles" thread and thought it looked pretty fun. The scenery was also really amazing looking and very serene, which seemed strange to me since it was literally right off of I-70. I have driven past this trailhead probably 500 times in the last 3 years, and had never stopped to check it out. So on Friday, James, Chase and I decided to go scope it out. James moved out recently from California, and had not been up any peaks yet, so that needed to change. I tried to talk everyone into a 530 departure but they werent having it so we settled on 7.
We pulled into the parking lot about 830. Since the weather was supposed to be perfect, we opted for a not quite alpine start. The trail was full of people and lots of dogs as we marched through the woods. The trail goes up fairly steeply for a few hundred feet, and then turns in behind a mountain. This is where the I-70 noise vanishes. The views really open up here and the hike is very pleasant. Lots of other hikers, fishermen and dogs all out enjoying the perfect weather.
We continued along this trail for a couple miles, before coming to a sign at treeline. This is where you leave the trail and hike up the hill to get to the saddle. Its a fairly steep slog, but it goes by pretty quickly, and the views are outstanding.
Finally we topped out on the saddle and the fun could begin. We had been debating on going over to tag hassell peak, but there looked to be a fair amount of snow on the route over there, so we skipped it and just went right for the main objective. We didnt bring snow gear so we were hoping that ridge would be mostly melted out. From where we looking from, it looked dry. This ridge would be great for someones 1st scramble, mainly because most of it can be made easier by skirting the ridge or harder by staying on the ridge crest. We tried to stay on the ridge crest as much as we could, which definitely made for more of a challenge but the scrambling is still easy and the exposure is pretty minor, with a couple of exceptions. One snowy section on the ridge crest forced us down to the right to get around it. That sucked, as the rock was pretty loose. Other than that though, the only way to describe the ridge is FUN. solid rock, enjoyable scrambling and some great views.
The ridge went quickly and we topped out around 1145 under somewhat menacing looking skies. It was raining off to the east of us and the clouds above looked like they get ugly fast, so we took a couple quick photos and then headed down the standard route, or what we thought would be the standard route.
It was still pretty snowy on this side of the peak...I think we ended up missing the standard descent trail and went down in the bigger open bowl, which was would have been a super fun glissade if only I wouldve had an axe. It seemed too steep to go without a brake. Instead, we faced in and tried kicking steps into surprisingly firm snow while trying not to slip. Not fun, but went without incident (other than cracking one of my toenails). We then slogged through a muddy marsh before crossing the creek and finding the main trail again. We passed Herman Lake, which was a pretty amazing place, and joined the masses and their dogs for the hike out.
All in all, a great day with some fun scrambling and awesome scenery.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):