Out of the Fryingpan and into the Fire -OR- Hit in the face by a Fryingpan
12653 A, 13003, 12801, 13026, 13202, 13300 A, 13145 B, 13230 B, Wayah Peak, 13212
Trailhead: Fryingpan Lakes
Elevation gain: 7,454'
Time: 16.5 hrs
Difficulty: class 4 to 5.easy
1-way PPG: 1.4 (24 mpg) Be sure to save 50mi by taking the Eagle-Thomasville dirt road.
Ever since I read Steve Knapp's TR from 2009 on this loop, I have wanted to do it. So over the last year or so, I've gotten stronger, faster and increased my endurance to be able to complete the entire loop. With a storm forecast of 0%, Saturday was the day, finally! I was excited and a bit apprehensive. Could I do it?
Very very little beta on these peaks, and from the TR, Steve went up a class 5 section solo. So when we climbed Schmoe's Nose together earlier this year, I asked him about it. He said his partner traversed around and found some class 4 slabs. Sweet!
Well, Saturday morning arrived too quickly. A bit too much fun on Wednesday & Thursday nights, and I didn't want to get out of my sleeping bag. Oh how I would curse myself later for this 1 hour snooze! I got about 10' of trail before the bushwhack started. Not too bad in the light, and I made semi decent time up the first peak of the day, Pt 12,653 A. From there the way is view is impressive. It's a very long ridge that curves around...
Last peak of the day, from the first. Note slight bench in slope - GO THIS WAY DOWN!
Route up 12,653 A
View south from 12,653 A
Looking back on 12,653 A
View of 13,003 along ridge
After my first 12er, I try to kick it into gear - or "beast mode".... hmmm not working. The kitten has shown up for the big traverse. Seems like I'm having an off day. At least there won't be any storms, since I'm going to need all day to run this ridge! Thankfully the first half of the ridge has only minor scrambling or route finding, so it goes easily enough. It's rocky along the way to the first 13er, but a way always presents itself.
Final ridge to 13,003
Very interesting summit rocks of 13,003!
Ridge south from 13,003, with the next 12er nearby on right.
The next peak 12,801 comes quickly after the first 13er, Pt 13,003. Hard to believe it's ranked, it looks so non-prominent.
Looking back on 13,003
Looking back on the summit of 12,801
A bit of a long ridge to the next peak, Pt 13,026. Don't pause too long, as I'm trying to avoid doing math to calculate how much longer I have today.
Stonehenge rock with the Williams Mountain group of 5 behind
Looking back on 13,026
As you approach Pt 13,202 and the almost halfway mark, things start to get a little more interesting scramble wise. I chose to go up the edge of the slabs on the ridge on the left, instead of the scree gully. Your choice. From the summit, I get a nice view of the next peak along the way - Pt 13,300 A - it looks complicated but fun!
Ridge to 13,202
Final scramble up 13,202
Pano from 13,202 and second half of ridge
Zoom of ridge up 13,300 A
I walk over towards the east to hopefully find a decent way down.... cliff! Hmmm I don't think I want to downclimb that. So I drop west and then south and find the secret green ledge that traverses the SE face of 13,202. Still looking for a way down to the ridge, and find nothing but cliffs. At the end of the ledge is a nice class 4 down climb. Woohoo, back on the easy ridge and on to the half way point!
Secret ledge! Class 4 downclimb at end of ledge
Why I didn't downclimb the east face of 13,202 - might have up climbed...
East face of 13202
Half way through the day - Looking back at 13,202
Now the fun really begins! How to get up 13,300 A? It's pretty obvious to bypass the first ridge block on the left. From there it's a slabby class 4 scramble up towards the next block. I don't know if the second block "goes", so I decide to traverse around after the first pitch or so, and find more slabby fun to scramble up. The last bit up the slabs feels almost 5.easy, but with all the Flatiron climbing I've been doing lately, it's fun and not an issue. Once back on the ridge and just below the summit, I see the second blocky rock feature does "go" on the north side. Oh well!
Ridge to 13,300 A
Bypass block to west...
Scramble up slabs...
Traverse around 2nd ridge block - viewing the second set of slabs and summit above
Final slabs up to summit area
The summit of 13,300 A is quite satisfying after all that scrambling fun. So much more to go as well. This side of the ridge is more of a scramble fest. So after signing another register with familiar names, I'm off north!
Looking north at the ridge to come, from 13,300 A
The next peak is unranked, 13145 B, and it seems to take forever to get there. From the summit I take a break, and look at the crux of the entire traverse. The cliff face up the unranked 13,230 B. Wow... if only I had a partner with a rope and rack, the cracks look fun! But no, I'm solo, have to find the class 4 in a sea of class 5. As I get closer and closer to the cliffs, the east and south faces look steep and impenetrable. Let's hope the west face holds a better option!
Approaching 13230 B - hmmm that east face looks class 5
Getting closer to 13230 B, still not finding the class 4
Looking back on 13145 B
I guess we'll look to the west for these class 4 slabs
Looking to the SW face, I see something that might go, along a fallen boulder mid-way. As I make my way below it. There's a nice crack to lay back, but above the fallen boulder, it looks too steep to be class 4. Darn! Then I look to my left of that crack, and I see a way! Rule #1 - Never climb up, what you can't climb down. Passes rule #1, we'll try this way and see what it looks like. Hopefully it will pass rule #2 - Always be prepared to turn around and find another way.
I think I see something on the left...
Looked good from far away.
Look left from crack - Aha! That looks class 4
After the first set up slabs, I look to my right and see more class 4 terrain. Sweet! I think I found the way! Once above that section, it's pretty easy to get to the unranked summit a little ways beyond the crux.
More class 4 climbing on west face of ridge
Looking back at 13145 B from above crux
Above the crux, looking at where some of the eastern cracks top out. Pt 13,145 B beyond.
From this incredibly challenging summit, the ridge to Wayah Peak looks a lot more tame. Better get to it, the sun is going west with a fury!
The ridge over to Wayah Peak
On Wayah Peak, it's 9 down, 1 more to go! And it looks like it won't give up without a fight either!
Final peak of the day, 13212
Pano from Wayah Peak
As I approach the saddle between Wayah and 13,212 I look for a way up to the blocky ridge proper. Doesn't go. It cliffs out to the west, so I'm forced around to the east. I go for a while on the east side until I don't like the giant blocky talus. Up to the ridge, hoping it will go (it doesn't), but looking over to the west side, it looks good.
Ridge to 13,212 - Go east then cross over to the west
On the west side of the ridge, I have to choose which of the two pointy prominences is the summit. My GPS says the closer one, but my printed map with Bill's waypoints says the other. With the setting sun, I decide to quickly check out the closer rocky summit. It goes class 5.crack and I get up most of the way, touch the big block, and look at the other prominece - yup that's the real summit! Down climb, and follow ridge... find a cliff, again. Traverse around and start up the real summit. Hmmm, from further away, it looks more gentle. Class 3/4 from the start!
Hmmm which is the higher summit?
View of real summit from false one
Looking back at false summit and the millionth cliff I found.
Scramble start up the summit pitch
Approaching the final summit of the day - finally!
Sunset is approaching...
From earlier in the day, I had wanted to continue along the ridge, but from the summit, it cliffs out - wow... big surprise there - Grrrr! I've heard that the drainage below is a nightmare, but with the sun setting, I may not be able to find a decent traverse over the rocky rib that separates me from the rest of the ridge. So I decide to go down to the valley below, and suffer the consequences of sleeping in that hour. The remaining 2.5 miles in the valley, were some of the worse bushwhacking I've ever done in my life! I know why the old trail is now defunct... it's been swallowed by a bog! The mud grips at your boots so strongly, I almost lost mine a few times! Fallen tree branches creep out of the muck to trip you. (Yeah, I almost face-planted) Giant chest high boulders appear in the middle of your path in the forest. Deadfall, spider webs, marshy streams - it's never ending.
By the time I make it back to the 20' of trail and my truck, I do the math... plans for Sunday will have to change. Can't do a 12mi 5K day on 1-2 hrs of sleep. Need something I can sleep in for ~5hrs, as midnight is my bed time tonight after dinner - bugger! After what has to be the hardest, longest and most mentally challenging ridge run of my life so far, all I want to do is sleep! Next Steve Knapp loop/ridge run I do - I will have to start earlier, and bring the beast
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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