Peak(s):  Gladstone Pk  -  13,913 feet
Date Posted:  08/19/2011
Date Climbed:   08/07/2011
Author:  RichardA
 Gladstone East Face  

Trailhead: Cross Mountain
Difficulty: Class 3
Distance Roundtrip: 11 miles
Time Roundtrip: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 4,700 ft
Weather: Warm & Sunny

I first read about a route on the East Face of Gladstone in a Trip Report by JH a few years back, where the party accomplished it as a winter ascent (impressive) but I have not found any description for a summer ascent.

As a single peak outing the East Face of Gladstone made sense with an approach from the Cross Mountain Trailhead (10,050 ft) located just west of Lizard Head Pass. I started at the trailhead at 5AM; the trail was easy to follow and well marked with signage at each junction. I arrived at the Lizard Head Wilderness Boundary sign in about 1 hour and the 12,000 ft saddle between Lizard Head and Cross Mountain in about 2 hours. From the Cross Mountain saddle and with the existing snow conditions I envisioned a route up the East Face of Gladstone between the sporadic snowfields but questioned whether the snow was going to be too soft or the upper slopes of the headwall and the summit block too loose and steep.

From Cross Mountain saddle I dropped down an elk trail toward the northwest for about 100-ft then did a descending traverse across the east side of Cross Mountain toward the East Face of Gladstone to the first small snowfield at about 12,000 ft. Once above this snowfield, an upward hike across a boulder field to the primary snowfield at 12,700 ft where I donned my ice axe and crampons. At about 8AM the snow was firm and the grade was shallow enough to allow French stepping with a single ice axe. I followed the snow to its high point at 13.400 ft, which is at the base of the headwall protecting the summit block. The headwall is more technical (i.e. steeper and taller) from right to left. A short upward traverse toward the left side of the headwall provided the easiest access to the summit block, where a short (Class 3) scramble on fairly stable terrain gained the summit block. Conditions allowed me to skirt above the summit block snowfield on its left side with an airy view of the exposed, steep and shattered South Face of Gladstone. Access was also available below the summit block snowfield but I opted for the high route to avoid exposure from the steepness of the headwall below. Once above this snowfield a short traverse toward the Souththeast Ridge (but not to close) provided the easiest access to the summit (Class 3), which is less than 200 ft above on jumbled terrain that makes Gladstone what it is. I was surprised that as scary as the rubble looks near the summit, it was more secure underfoot than expected. I followed the same route on the descent climbing gingerly down the summit block wondering what holds this mountain together and if a winter snowpack actually provides stability or just a false sense of security on this terrain. Once on the primary snowfield it was 11AM and the snow had softened somewhat but it was still too hard for plunge stepping. Due to its softness it was still much quicker reversing the snowfield than ascending it. I was back at Cross Mountain saddle by 12:30PM and the THD by 2PM. I tried to compare this route to other 13ers but realized it truly has merits that stand out uniquely on its own.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

08/19/2011 18:32
This is going to come in very helpful in the future. Nice photos, too.


08/19/2011 20:17
Is the rock on Gladstone as crappy as it is on Mt. Wilson? I mean ”crappy” as in shifty and moveable without notice.

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