Snowy and Steep
I started hiking from the Four Way lot at the end of Gold Camp road (the standard trail head) at about noon. I discussed the incoming weather with a guy named Jason at the trail head and he said the snow was not going to start until evening. He was planning on going up the seven bridges like myself so we started hiking together. We started on the standard route: Gold Camp trail to Seven Bridges and up. I used some rubber yak trak like attachments because the trail was pretty icy.
Once we got above the bridges and into the scree slope section I looked south and realized I had a straight shot at the summit(albeit a very steep one) some 700 feet above. I asked Jason if he wanted to join me in a summit push and he agreed. He turned out to be a great hiking partner for the day. He was physically up for the climb,cooked us lunch and was great to chat with for the duration of the hike. The straight summit shot was of course the crux of the hike.
The start of the ascent was very steep(40 degrees plus) and quite sandy. I found myself scrambling from one "safe" spot to another. Had there been other people on the trail I don't think I would have tried it due to rock fall danger. We did not let any rocks careen down the slope and always stayed to the side of each other. It was all sand for about 200 meters and then some rocks and trees appeared and eventually all rocks and trees. It was great fun scrambling up and finding handholds and all that. When we approached the summit block we chose to move to the west of it. There was no snow on the south slope but it did not start to snow until about two-third of the the way up the slope. The west move brought us to the first level spot we had seen in 45 minutes and soon were on the west summit block and then moved to the east summit block for a noodle lunch.
There were barely any views on top due to the snowfall but the temperature was around thirty so it was still quite pleasant.
We descended the east ridge to the Buckhorn. It was a fairly easy descent. We stayed on the ridge line the whole time and there was a faint trail discernible even through the snow.
Once on the Buckhorn we followed it back to Gold Camp trail and the cars. Buckhorn was actually the toughest part of the hike because the snow had covered the icy spot and caused a few falls for me.
The hike took just over four hours including lunch on the summit. A great hike I will be repeating this summer.