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This “winter” climb to the old lookout location went about as well as any winter trip could. Recent bouts of late spring-like weather raised the snowline to about 4700 feet on the south-facing valley wall (about 2.5 miles in). We didn’t even put on snowshoes ‘till we left the trees at the beginning of Deer Horn Creek Basin.
Fog and fresh snowfall made finding the most direct route across the basin a little longer than planned but we eventually made it through very poor snowshoeing conditions to the upper ridge west of the final switchbacks.
There was a very hard icy crust overlain by about 5-6 inches of fluffy powder up high. So we decided to get out axes and strap on crampons, leaving our packs, for the final 50 feet to the summit. The final climb was fantastic – snow and weather conditions made it feel like a real mountaineering climb with lots of front pointing and dagger holds on the axe. Out route went more or less directly up the south ridge finishing on the east face of the lookout summit.
When we toped out the wind was blowing snow right in our faces and there was a total whiteout so we turned around and headed down the east ridge for ~20 feet then traversed the ease face to where we left our packs. Heading down was a piece of cake since any powder sliding on the crust just got us down faster.
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