The weather was very cold and stormy, with poor visibility and snow falling, but I wanted to get out and climb Elk Mountain and Sugarloaf Peak. No one else wanted to go, so I set up alone from Janet's Cabin. The trail was broken by some skiers up to a hill above the hut. Above that, I broke trail up to Searle Pass and then the conditions became brutal with the high winds. The chill factor was around -40F/-40C on the new chart, but it was still snowing horizontally.
I made my way up the ridge towards Elk Mountain with poor visibility, but every once in a while I could see part of the mountain briefly. Even though visibility was poor, I could see what I took for a very steep slope or cornice on the way to a false summit, but when I got there, it turned out to be not bad. I made my way over the false summits and to the final push up Elk Mountain, which was quite steep considering the conditions.
At the summit of Elk Mountain, I didn't get any views and decided not to continue any further. I couldn't see anything and was worried getting lost in the whiteout. Besides, it was absolutely brutal and I was freezing cold.
I descended the same way. One the way back, there were several snow slumps, but that was in areas not steep enough to slide. I avoided any slide danger by staying on the ridge-tops for the ascent.
Skied from the summit!
I did this peak as a big loop in fall of 2008 from Camp Hale on the west side. Hiked up to Kokomo Pass then climbed Sheep, N Sheep, Corbett, Elk, Sugarloaf, Pearl and PT 11716 before descending from the Jackal Hut. Whew. It was a long hike, but a beautiful fall day!
It was a pleasant surprise to find so much snow still on a mid-size twelver this late in June. The hike up Cataract Gulch is just lovely. Many flowers were in bloom, including Red Columbine. We combined our ascent of Elk Mountain with summits of Corbett Peak and Pearl Peak. Partners: Dorothea's CMC outing.