Peak(s):  South Tarryall Peak - 11,206 feet
Date Posted:  02/26/2012
Modified:  02/27/2012
Date Climbed:   02/25/2012
Author:  Derek
Additional Members:   Claybird
 An Unfinished Tally in the Tarryalls  

Lost Creek Wilderness - South Tarryall Peak

The Two Trip Tale
Stats from each trip below photos
**To clarify confusion, this report represents two trips. An attempt in December, and a success in February.

December 3rd, 2011 - Hankins Pass: Round One
Spruce Grove Trailhead

The original plan for the weekend of December 3rd was to join the group for a campout and hike up Mt. Columbia. With weather looking worse throughout the week leading up to it, Clay and I decided to call "Plan B" and head for the Lost Creek Wilderness. A couple attendees from the Columbia trip (vineyardbmw and CDR242) decided to join our backup plan.

We started from the Spruce Grove Trailhead (28 miles south of 285 of Co Rd 77) at around 9AM and followed the very dry trail as it headed northward towards Lizard Rock. Once we reached the Lizard Rock intersection after 2.5 miles, we decided to take a stroll and see if we could find a way to the top of this unranked summit. We searched around for 20-30 minutes, but couldn't find a way to the true summit that didn't involve snow covered class 5. We still had a good time wandering around the rocky area.

After our sidetrip, we continued the final 1.8 miles to Hankins Pass where we planned to camp. The snow got progressively deeper as we ascended to the pass, and the wind started to pick up. After camp was set up, we decided to head up for South Tarryall Peak. The peak had been on my radar for quite a while, and since it was just 1200' above us it seemed like a good idea. We made it just under halfway to the top of the ridge before the sun sank behind the mountain and the late afternoon chill set in. I eventually decided to call it quits to descend and warm my toes. The others decided to turn back with me, as our big plans were for the next day anyway. The remainder of the night was spent staying warm around the fire while temps dipped to around 0 degrees. We finally turned in with the plan of heading up to Lake Park in the morning.

The weatherman had predicted around 1 inch of new snow overnight, but we woke up 4-5 inches with the snow still coming down hard. The temps warmed slightly, but still remained in the single digits. After emerging from my comfy sleeping bag, I headed up the trail a little ways towards Lake Park to check out the conditions we would be facing later. The new snow covering the previous snow made travel difficult. (Especially minus snowshoes, which of course we decided we wouldn't need.) I returned to camp and relayed the info. We made the decision that Lake Park would not be a logical destination for the day. In fact, with the snow still coming down, we all decided heading back down early would be the best option. On the plus side, we were at least able to break in our winter camping for the season...but the peaks would have to wait.

Approaching the Lizard Rack Saddle from the Spruce Grove Trailhead in December.

On the Lizard Rock summit, true summit ahead.

Rock window on Lizard Rock.

Trail conditions up to Hankins Pass.

Stomping out a campsite in the angry winds.

View of the Tarryalls to the north from our attempt of South Tarryall Peak.

Hankins Pass camp.

Fading daylight from Hankins Pass.

"Looks cold. I'll just hang out in here."

Checking out the trail to Lake Park. No snowshoes=no go.

Calling it quits and heading home.

Map of the trip.

Stats from round one:
10.6 miles, 2400' elevation

Spruce Grove to Lizard Rock Saddle : 2.5 miles
Lizard Rock from Lizard Rock Saddle : 0.9 miles
Lizard Rock Saddle to Hankins Pass : 1.8 miles
South Tarryall Attempt : 1.1 miles
Descent to Spruce Grove Trailhead : 4.3 miles

February 25th - Hankins Pass Round Two
Twin Eagles Trailhead

A return to South Tarryall Peak left my mind for most of the winter. I found other mountains to climb, and forgot about the little 11er I still needed for my LCW list. Finally, thanks to an email from Jay521 on his summit of the peak, I decided I would set out to complete unfinished business via a dayhike. Clay was game to join for the rematch. To change things up, we decided to ascend from the Twin Eagles Trailhead. (Well, the road outside the trailhead. The actual trailhead is gated off in the winter.)

The first 2.25 miles from our parking spot went very quick, as we had very little snow to contend with. This route is also the beginning portion of the standard route up McCurdy Mountain, and the views of the Tarryalls from this portion of the Brookside/McCurdy Trail are fantastic. We reached the short (0.75 mile) spur trail that would switchback us southward to the Lizard Rock saddle. The snow started to get deeper on this trail, but not enough to slow us down too much. Once we reached the saddle, we began to overlap our route from December up to Hankins Pass. Again, we were a bit surprised at the amount of snow on the trail to the pass, but we still weren't regretting bringing the snowshoes. At around 11:00AM (around 2 hours after leaving the trailhead) we reached the pass. We took a short snack break and prepared for the short but steep finish to the top of South Tarryall Peak.

Immediately after starting up to north slopes of the peak, we realized leaving the snowshoes was probably not the brightest move. Snow depth for the next 0.7 miles and 1,000' would vary anywhere from 1 to 3 feet. We slowly plowed our way upward, swapping trailbreaking turns. Rufus (the dog) did his best to assist, but preferred to follow us most of the time. After almost 1.5 hours, we plodded out to the top of the ridge. The final .25 miles to the summit went easier with the lower snow levels, and before long we were standing on top. Despite the plumes we could see off the higher peaks to the west, our summit stay was pleasant and surprisingly calm.

The descent was long but uneventful, and we were able to enjoy the late afternoon sun shining off the Tarryalls on the way down. We reached the car 7 hours 15 minutes after leaving that morning. No speed records today, but an enjoyable summit on a great February day. Persistance pays off.

Along the Brookside/McCurdy Trail. "The Catamount" and the Twin Eagles seen above.

Pleasant travels for the first couple miles.

Intersection of the spur trail.

Great morning weather on our way up to Lizard Rock saddle.

Approaching Hankins Pass.

The snow was immediately deeper after leaving Hankins Pass.

1,000' of trenchwork.

Finally topping out on the ridge, just shy of the summit.

South Tarryall Peak summit ridge.

On the summit. Photo by Clay

Bison and McCurdy from the summit of South Tarryall Peak.

Derek and Rufus on the summit. Photo by Clay

Clay browsing the register with Lake Park Peak in the background.

Following our trench back down.

How could you not love this area?

Final map of the day.

Stats from round two:
11.6 miles, 2,850' elevation

Twin Eagles TH to Hankins Trail Spur : 2.1 miles
Hankins Trail Spur to Lizard Rock Saddle : 0.8 miles
Lizard Rock Saddle to Hankins Pass : 1.8 miles
Hankins Pass to South Tarryall Peak : 1.2 miles
Descent to Spruce Grove Trailhead : 5.8 miles

 Comments or Questions

02/27/2012 04:11
Glad you made it, Derek! Nice report!!


Great write up
02/27/2012 04:15
Looks like fantastic weather and a solid effort, gentlemen. Thanks for posting


rufus the trenchpoacher
02/27/2012 05:50
nice report Derek. looks like another great spot and that cross look like something at of blair witch. rufus is a trooper. clay get a haircut. if there's a round 3 it would be good to get back out there with you sometime


02/27/2012 15:00
Way to go back and get it. I'll have to join on one of these LCW adventures sometime, it's still an unknown area to me...


Nice Work!
02/27/2012 15:31
South Tarryall is high on my list for the year, Think it's a possible day hike this time of year?


You can't go wrong
02/27/2012 18:25
with the LCW. Nice report. It took me twice to summit this peak as well. You make that 1000' of trenchwork look too easy - that's some fairly tough terrain higher up.


Great stuff guys
02/27/2012 18:27
Looks like everyone did some trail-breaking this weekend! Hope to see you guys out again soon.


Thanks for the comments.
02/28/2012 03:38
Jay: thanks for the reminder that I needed to get back there to get it!

dmccool: Perfect weather. (The second time.) Cool enough to not get hot, but warm enough to minimize layers. Loved it.

Dillon: Rufus doesn't get to count the summit since he poached our trench. Probably be back in that area in the next month or so if you're interested.

Jeff: There are some scrambles (class 4, low 5) in the area that I'm planning on hitting up in late spring if you're interested in scoping out the area.

SuperPolok: The format of the report was a bit confusing, sorry. We actually did the second round (on Saturday) as a dayhike. The overnight was the original attempt in December. It is VERY doable as a dayhike, especially if you go from Spruce Grove TH. Total stats from there would be about 10 miles, 2800'. I think the Twin Eagle TH approach is more scenic, but adds a couple more miles.

Jason: The reason the 1000' of trenchwork looks easy is because I was too tired to take any pictures on the way up!

Rob: I hate to say it, but I think I'm ready for some melting. Snow is getting old.


02/28/2012 05:33
Those adventures look remarkably similar to a surreal trip to a wild place called Windy Peak last April, sans snowshoes. And then that night a few inches of forecast snow seemed to turn into a whole lot more and the LCW became a winter wonderland. It was one of my favorite trips from last year, and I was glad I got to enjoy it with you and Clay. Like our trip to Windy, these look like adventures of the very best kind, thanks for sharing it, and congratulations on reaching the summit. The format of the report reminds me that we owe Kelso Mountain another visit for some unfinished business. Lets make that happen in the next month or two.

Chicago Transplant

On the proverbial ”list”
02/28/2012 18:22
LCW is one of those places I still need to get to, I was planning on it last spring but with all the spring snow storms never made it. With the low snow year, maybe I will finally make it! These look like cool peaks, I like the rock formations!

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