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Ascent of Coal Mountain on 2010-10-23

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Ken Jones
Date:Saturday, October 23, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Coal Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:4321 ft / 1317 m

Ascent Trip Report

I thought this one was going to be fairly easy. Wrong. I had found an unmapped road on mytopo aerials that looked like it would get me to the 3940 saddle to the NW of the peak and from there it looked to be a short hop to the peak. Sadly, as soon as we turned off of FS 17 we were met by a boulder blockage reinforced with an old gate. A mossy roadwalk it turned out to be and a little drizzle hinted at suckiness as we left the car. The drizzle relented and we worked the road through a bit of up and down and to the turnoff junction. At about where the map shows the road ending you will find a fork uphill to the L which does a couple of switchbacks to get higher up. Still a good road for now with moss and no real encroaching brush but its time will come. The road then traversed a bit below the 4243 summit where we saw an ATV parked which we presumed belonged to some hunter chasing deer. We continued on and dropped to the saddle and for the last tenth of a mile the road got a bit brushier though a game trail of sorts was found through it. At the saddle, we found a weird rock formation of thin steep rock ribs with forest cover and steep drainage gully thingies on the side. I traversed the ridgey rock and then suffered some sticker brushes. The brush slowed our pace to a crawl. Mostly we were able to stay near the ridge. The details are not particularly instructive but to the extent that we did drop off the ridge it was on the climber's right side. After a while we got to 4200' and from here the brush faded and our pace quickened. We sound were on what looked like the top but a quick check showed a steep dirt ramp to the NE led up to the edge of a rockwall that was a fairly sheer dropoff on the E side. We tagged this and it seemed to be the obvious HP. This is located maybe 120 horizontal feet to the NE of where the map shows the summit spot elevation. We reversed course and headed back down. The brush dodging went a little bit better on the ascent and the downhill is always much better anyway as gravity is now in your favor. It still took us 45 minutes to go down to the saddle which wasn't but 3/10ths of a mile from the summit. From there we just walked the road with occasional sprinkles back to the TH. My easy hike had about an extra 6 or 7 miles of roadwalking. This area is on the edge of the USFS boundary but as far as I can tell it looks like our entire road route was still within the National Forest. The roadbed is very good; but moss and brush on the sides are beginning the slow creep towards uselessness even for those who would walk such a thing. Why gate this road? The USFS can be really damn annoying.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1921 ft / 586 m
    Extra Gain:430 ft / 131 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Mossy Road
    Trailhead:FS 17 Junction  3260 ft / 993 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2ish
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Calm, Overcast
Worsening Slowly but with a surprising interlude of blue skies



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