On Friday night I drove to the abandoned cabins at Rockdale and slept in the truck. My -20 bag was a bit overkill and between sweaty fits and mosquitoes (!?) I didn't get much sleep. I awoke around 6 am and started driving south on the 4WD road. The stream crossings were sketchy as the water was uncomfortably high (nearly to the rockers). Beyond them the road became steep, rocky, and intermittently buried in drifts. I was able to drive up to 10620' before my truck high-sided on a deep snowdrift, and after winching it out I parked and started the hike.
Assault / Perseverance
I started hiking at 7:15 am. On reaching Clohesy Lake, I turned east and started climbing the talus to treeline on the west ridge. This part of the hike was quick, and I reached treeline in short order. From there the rest of the route was obvious from a giant cairn high on the ridge. As I climbed the wind increased in intensity. NOAA had called for 40-45 mph winds with 65 mph gusts. In fact, though the ridge was steep, this part of the hike was relatively easy, as I could lean back and let the wind push me up the hill. But the higher I climbed the worse it became, until I was nearly sprinting between gusts that would force me to my knees for fear of being tossed like a ragdoll over the ridge. Near the top of the ridge, the route intersects the standard route and turns southeast to the summit. I should have installed crampons for the traverse below the crux but instead I just kicked steps and used my axe as an anchor. By 11:45 am I was enjoying incredible views and complete solitude on the summit.
Despite the wind I stayed on the summit for 20 minutes before heading back down. I briefly entertained the thought of glissading from the Missouri-Iowa saddle but at the time I didn't know of a route that way and decided to return over familiar ground. I was able to glissade only a short distance as the wind held me in place; so instead I began to lean and leap downwards into the wind (moonwalking?). This probably looked comical had anyone been around to see it. This descent was harder than the climb! After a frustrating but short scramble down the talus and slushy snow, I was back in the trees, on the trail, and eager to get some barbecue. I reached the truck at 2:00 pm to close out my 7.4-mile round trip.
No comments posted yet.