Peak(s):  Pearl Mountain  -  13,362 feet
Date Posted:  09/20/2011
Date Climbed:   09/17/2011
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   lovskiing, moon stalker
 Gurlz love snow!   

Pearl Mountain

Route: Pearl Pass Road to ENE ridge
Mileage: 6.3
Elevation Gain: 2,400'
Blizzard bravers: Kelly (moon stalker), Monika (lovskiing) and me

The weather for this past Saturday was not ideal. So not ideal, that the official Gurlz hike had to swap days. But as I still had planned my entire weekend in the Elks, I thought why not give the 13er we had planned for Sunday a shot on Saturday. Worst case, we get snow beta for the next day. With Kelly being a definite accomplice and winter/spring snow climber, and Monika a ski instructor for Loveland, we had a solid cold and snow weather team. We even took turns leading during the day.

I had skied West Pearl last spring, and got a decent view of Pearl. Combine that with a summer photo from Furthermore's TR and I had more than enough beta with a map to decide that we could ascend this peak with snow and not get above class 2. Kelly and I had a GPS to guide us when our eyes could not see, which was most of the day. And we needed a GPS to make sure we were on the true summit, since visibility was so low.

Today was one of the few times that we were lucky that the first part of the route was a road. We wouldn't be soaked from step one by the wet grasses that typically surround a trail. So we made quick time up the wet road and found snowline to creep below 12K.

Starting up Pearl Pass Road

Rain to start

The snowline...

Once up to the upper meadow area below the peaks, the visibility was quite low, and would remain as such all hike long. The area is so beautiful, as we would barely be able to see it. We followed the road until we saw a nice grassy ramp that would take us into the belly of the beast between the two ridges. From there we trended climbers right until we had bypassed some rocky prominence and gained the ridge to our right. We still had some route finding to do to keep the difficulty low and easy. The snow got deeper the higher we went up the ridge.

Greg Mace Peak - barely visible

Trust me Kelly, that's Pearl on the left and West Pearl on the right...

The two ridges from Pearl that intersect the pearl pass road, and the grassy ramp we followed

Walking in between the two ridges, looking for class 2 passage to the ridge proper

We spent a very brief amount of time on the summit. Kelly's feet were cold, and her glacier glasses fogged up, so she was going without - Ouch!!!

It was a whiteout on the summit

Descending the ridge and out of the wind pelting us with snow crystals was priority #1, and we made quick work of it. Instead of following our exact path, we took a more direct route, and dropped off the ridge to our left (towards West Pearl) and plunge stepped all the way to the valley below.

Heading back down

Cornices already... in September....

Some rocks for contrast with the white snow


Navigating the snowy ridge

Descending a snowy gully that was plunge-step-able

West Pearl in background

That's the sun eminating through the snow and clouds, looking back at our descent gully

Once down below, the sun tried really hard to come out, but could not burn through the clouds fast enough for us.

The flowers are dying

The sun really tried to come out... looking back on Pearl

Some sun on Greg Mace



Ewwww something ate a marmot...

One of the reasons we didn't drive the Pearl Pass Road...

A nice waterfall

Back in camp, the sun did finally come out and we were lucky to be able to dry our wet gear for the next day.

Drying out at our campsite. Leaves are a changin'

Star Peak A

Taylor Peak A

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Comments or Questions
September weather
09/20/2011 20:24
Wow, you all looked so cold! I loved your pictures of the flowers in the snow. Always a confusing sight to see. Congrats on the climb!

09/20/2011 20:41
Looks like winter is on its way. Nice report!

Great report
09/20/2011 22:01
But I'm just not mentally prepared for winter.....yet......Gurlz rule !

nice job!
09/20/2011 22:33
great work ladies- gettin after it in the weather!
maybe ski season is comming on soon?

BTW your ascent and descent lines make for great spring ski runs!

moon stalker
I wish we could have seen SOMETHING from the top
09/21/2011 04:00
Oh well, like you said, it just means I'll have to go back and do west pearl and make sure the weather is good then. Our GPSs really came in handy, they always do in conditions like that. Awesome pics of the flowers, you can tell they were still doing great that late in the season and then bam, snow came. Ugh, winter is coming.
Great report.

Thanks for the comments :)
09/21/2011 19:42
Even though we didn't see much, I had a really great time! It may have been the adventure aspect of route finding and navigating in less than ideal conditions on a peak with only a little bit of beta on.

Based on all the dead flowers, a summer return may be warranted.

I'm not ready for winter either... not like this snow will stick for skiing!

09/21/2011 21:17
What's with that foot/claw??

09/23/2011 11:54
Great adventure. Love the photos, even the eaten marmmot. Having 4 daughters I know first hand how much they can do, more often way more than I can as their father. Gurlz of any age I think have way more drive and motivation as a whole. It looks like you all had an amazing time even in the cold snowy conditions. I can't wait for some winter climbs. And yes, mtgirl, Gurlz do rule, thats what I keep telling my babies. Their orneriness and ridiculous amount of intelligence proves it to me everyday. Now if I could just get them to do their chores....

nice report otina
06/06/2013 16:20
love the conditions down below vs up top! these on the list this weekend, thanks

04/02/2015 19:45
Way to persevere. Loved, loved the pictures of the flowers in the snow.

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