I have been planning to climb Mount Powell since first moving to the area nearly 8 years ago. The Gores have always intrigued me because of their remote and rugged nature. It only seemed logical to want to climb the King of The Gores. Powell is difficult to view from anywhere civilized and requires a great amount of effort despite the walk-up nature of its standard, Piney Lake approach. Despite the fact that I'm only about 30 miles from the TH, it has taken me this long to finally get over there and give it a shot.
I had always imagined it being climbed from the east and was not aware of the more "tamed" western approach until Aaron introduced the peak to SP. I finally decided to go alone as I couldn't find anyone interested who was available. This was my first time into the Northern Gore and I decided to do it as a day hike, despite the milage and vertical gain.
I arrived at the entrance to Piney Lake Lodge at ten minutes to 6:00 and parked near the outer entrance. On the trail at 6:00 sharp, I made excellent time along the good trail for the first two miles as it only gains about 400 ft. I had no problem finding the branch trail as the cairn was still there. The trail was suprsingly good up through the marsh area and was not difficult to stay on. Also the conditions were pretty dry due to the lack of recent rain. The going was great, although steep all the way to the high basin below Kneeknocker pass. Up to the point I had awesome views of such peaks as the Spider. Which by the way will receive a visit from me a soon as possible.
From the high basin I has a stunning view of Peak C and the route up to the pass. The unrelenting climb to the pass helped me to realized how it receive its name. The climbing was made easier by an established climbers trail on the left side of the gully. It stays on the grassy slopes until you are forced into the loose rocks about 2/3 of the way up. At the pass I finally saw the remainder of the route to the top of Powell and had a great view of Peak C's NNE face.
I descended about 100 ft on the east side of the pass to avoid some loose ledges and sand before making my way over to the base of the final summit pitch. The initial part was on large boulders which eventually gave way to talus and then grassy slopes. Although steep the travel was pretty easy. At the end of the grassy slopes, I was faced with some options. Directly above me was a nasty looking gully full of talus. I instead opted for a more direct ascent to the summit via relatively solid rock to the right of the gully. It provided for some fun scrambling. This took me almost directly to the summit where I was overwhelmed with some of the most amazing views of the surrounding area. The entire Gore Range was at my feet to the south proving that Mount Powell truly is the King of The Gores. It sits fittingly at the North end of the range.
Having made the summit at 9:50 am, just under 4 hours, I took some time to take in the views. After about 20 minutes I started my descent. It was hard to keep an eye on where I was placing my feet because of the stellar view of Peak C. I made much better time on the descent and found myself back at the trail head at about 12:30 pm.
I didn't see a single sole on the trip except for the usual tourist around Piney Lake near the TH. What an awesome peak climb into an even more awesome area.
Thanks Aaron, glad that you added this one to SP. I still think this one is safe from being over run anytime soon despite any attention we give it.
attm, I did get some awesome pics of C, however, the perspectives are already well represented. The view of C from the top of the grassy slopes on Powell is one of the most impressive of any mountain I've ever laid eyes on. If that face were solid, we'd have our own version of Camp 4 right there in the Northern Gores.