We went up Trail Canyon to the North Loop, and from there to the summit. Although it was melting quickly, there was still plenty of snow above 11,000'. The biggest problem was the increasing mud from melting snow.
After not making it to the summit the prior day via the North Loop I decided to try the South Loop today even though reports had more snow there. I parked below the Cathedral Ledge picnic and parking areas because they are all closed so I started out at the Cathedral Ledge Lower TH and hiked up behind the construction to get to the South Loop TH which is the only way to get there until June when the areas are scheduled to reopen.
I headed up at 6:30am and made great time up through the canyon, the were a few snow slide areas before reaching the ridge line that were deep snow for about 15' each but I never sunk in very deep. I reached the ridge line at 4.75 miles which was considerably more than a trail guide on trails.com listed. The meadows were beautifully green and fast traveling with a little snow but again nothing more than 2-3".
On the back side of the ridge line there was more continuous snow but again not more than 3-4" once I got up onto the back of Charleston Peak the trail had a lot of snow on the high side but walking the lower edge of the trail on the rocks was fine and usually snow free. Made the summit in 4hrs and was the first of the day. It was patchy bare ground and had plenty of places to sit on bare dry rocks for a snack in the quiet sun... No wind at all!
Made a quick detour to visit the remains of the old CIA plane crash... Pretty cool!
Trip back down was fast, 3hrs, but slushy so what snow is up there today won't last for long.
The south loop is definitely more passable right now, though I met a local NV man who said I could have summited from the North Loop if I had diverted up around Devils Thumb to avoid the avalanche chute the day before. Not sure where that was, I will have to look into it.
There is a point on the North Loop trail where you can take the Devil's Thumb shortcut (route on this site). I believe that is probably what the person was referring to.
I decided to hike up part way on Thursday afternoon and camp to get a head start on summiting on Friday. At about 10,400' I got nailed by a storm that brought thunder, lightning, snow and grauple so I descended to where I could camp safely for the night well below the ridge line in a pseudo cave. Friday morning was cold and there was another 4-5" of new powdery snow on the slopes. I did well slogging through 6-8" of snow (up to my knees at times) until I got to the NE face of Charleston and barely 0.6 mi from the summit. Traversing the rock face was not possible, it had a slide on it and with the new snow sitting on top of crusty snow from earlier in the week I decided it was too risky to cross. On my way down the snow was melting amazingly fast under strong sun so it should be much better in the coming week. I may try the South Loop on Saturday.
Took South Loop trail starting from Cathedral Rock up starting about 6AM. No snow on the trail up until over 9,000 ft. There is a bad section of snow in the avalanche chute near the "Mount Charleston Wilderness" sign. After that the snow clears until somewhere around 9400 ft where the South Loop Trail is completely inundated under snow that is at minimum knee deep. In the morning this snow was rock solid and I was able to follow someones snowshoe footprints straight up to the Meadows (the actual trail is nonexistent currently). Once you reach the Meadows the snow is just patches all the way to Charleston Peak. On the descent the snow had begun melting and that section from the Meadows down was an absolute nightmare each step in snow sunk me over knee deep and each step on dirt was like a slip n slide of mud. I absolutely recommend anyone thinking of taking the South Loop Trail up to not do it for a few more weeks for safety reasons. Trail Canyon/North Loop may be better not sure though.
Snow conditions in Lee Canyon in the morning weren't too bad (not too much postholing) but we sunk in up to our waists on the way down in the afternoon. Devils Thumb Shortcut is free of snow in all technical sections. Never used crampons all day. Also climbed Lee Peak and Mummy Mountain.
After a low-snow Winter and warm Spring, the trail was mostly in great shape. All except the 1/2 mile between the Cathedral Rock overlook and Griffith Pass, which was knee- to crotch- deep post-holing.
Such a grand ridge to hike along!
Easy Summer Summit
Up twice last summer. Formerly a bicycle road racer, injuries had me side lined, so my girl friend said "let's take a hike!" Now over 60 peaks later (as of March, 2013) I'm climbing every weekend. She created a monster.
Nice break from the heat below
Had a day to kill in Vegas, so I got the heck out of that s###hole and hiked up the tallest mountain I could find.
Up and back from Trail Canyon and North Loop this time. With Abby, wonder hiking dog, who scored jerky from a kind lady on top. 7:10 am to 4:00 pm car to car, with some leisurely time on top (no wind!). Last year (August 5, 2011) came and went from South Loop; August 29, 2009, did the loop up the north and down the south. The exposure on the north gives me pause, I can't imagine doing it in snow. But the views are stupendous and the bristlecones awesome. Much less traffic than south loop. The new parking lot and bathroom at Trail Canyon are dandy :-)
This was my first, real strenuous solo summit. Construction at the picnic area had me starting at the "wrong" trailhead and I ended up hiking Cathedral Rock by accident...but the extra 3.5 miles and 1000 ft of elevation didn't stop me from heading up Charleston, too. :) Beautiful and serene hike to the summit, grueling and draining hike down left me dehydrated and cursing. Overall, worth every minute! :)
Easy long hike on the south trail, with Griffith Peak on the return. Couldn't be bothered to do the north loop due to a flight out from Vegas that evening, but ended up having time. Better to enjoy the fountains and atrium at the Bellagio for an hour or so.
2011 too much snow - on the ground and new snow overnight. 2012 almost no snow. Camped on the ridge near Griffith Saddle, went to the top the next morning. Cool, windy, cloudy. Climbed with Todd
Went up the south loop trail and stopped at Griffith Peak on the way to Charleston Peak. After Charleston Peak I took the north loop trail and hiked up Mummy Mountain before taking the canyon trail back. Both trails had manageable amounts of snow.
Hiked about a week after a big snowstorm in the Spring Mountains -- atypical for this area so early in the fall. Went up the S. Loop trail, which was covered from bottom to top in slick, hard snow. The meadows were clear. Very sunny on top, very little wind. Descended N. Loop which, for the first half, was also covered in snow. Not many people out this time of year so I had to stomp my feet into the snow in the switchbacks near the summit to make sure I didn't slide down the mountain. Very strenuous and long day, and I got back to my car at S. Loop trailhead as it was getting dark.
This was my first summit of any real mountain (being from Minnesota), and I was awed by the strenuous climb and rewarding views once we made it to Charleston Peak. Climbed with my best friend/former college roommate - one of the best days of my life, and every little step and gasp trying to keep my lungs full of air was definitely worth the effort. I'm hooked... but need to stay in shape for climbs like this - very strenuous on my 43 year old body. I was sore for 5 days after!
Hiking mt Charleston alone is a good conditioning run; 20-degree cooler temps, trail has a gradual rise over run, and not too far outside Vegas. But when combined with 2 other peaks shared on its range, it becomes a climbing journey for the entire day. Mummy's Tummy and Griffith Peak add good views, ridge-line routing, and both have survey markers/registers. N Loop & S Loop trailheads are connected by a 1 mile stretch of pavement.
1st of now 4 ascents.