Been to Mandall Pass many times, and to surrounding peaks, but never bothered with this, uh, peak. Ptarmigan Flat Top is one of those examples of why the definitions of what makes a peak (300' prominence, usually) aren't always the best indicators.
First, couldn't believe anyone else had summited the same day, let alone 3 other people. Next, couldn't believe it was Scott, and then, couldn't believe we didn't see you! Saw your tent, though. :)
Kessler, Shaylee and I went for a climb of “Ptarmigan Flat Top”, the peak on the west side of Mandall Pass in the Flat Tops. We left Friday afternoon and drove the 1.5 hours to the trailhead before starting up the mountain.
When we started out, the skies were very smoky (from distant forest fires), but free of clouds. The weather forecast was good, but the sky quickly clouded up and it began to rain and then snow (though the snow didn’t stick). Because of this we only made less than two miles before setting up camp, just before the stream crossing of Mandall Creek.
After waking up to clear skies and a rather cool 30F (enough to cover the ground with a good layer of frost), we ate breakfast and headed up the mountain. We made our way rather quickly to the base of Mandall Pass, but we lost the trail near the base of the pass. We picked up a cairned route, but it got into some loose scree (which in normal years would always be covered in snow) which we had to slog up before reaching the final slope below the pass.
Once as Mandall Pass, we made our way up to “Ptarmigan Flat Top”. We saw 21 marmots and several pikas along the way; I believe 21 marmots are the most I’ve even seen on a mountain.
The climb was easier than expected (one steep place, with gentle grass slopes) and we found ourselves in the summit area earlier than expected. We had to search around for the summit since the top is a huge nearly flat expanse of tundra. We found many ptarmigans right on the summit and we photographed them.
After finding the top we signed the summit register (with very few signatures) and set off to two other points in the distance that looked like they might be higher. It was found that the first point we reached was the highest.
After a rest and snack, we headed back down the mountain. We made a short side trip to Black Mandall Lake before heading back down to pack up camp and then heading home. Despite the cool start, it was a hot day for high altitudes. It was a good trip.