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Route: Pearl Pass Road to ENE ridge
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
Once down below, the sun tried really hard to come out, but could not burn through the clouds fast enough for us.
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.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
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.
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!
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....
Way to persevere. Loved, loved the pictures of the flowers in the snow.
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