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Ascent of Granite Mountain on 2011-12-22

Climber: Chad Straub

Others in Party:Amir
Maverick(k9)
Date:Thursday, December 22, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Granite Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5629 ft / 1715 m

Ascent Trip Report

I have mixed feelings about the route that was forged after the most recent snow on Granite Mountain. About halfway up the trail was abandoned for a steep direct ascent up an unusually wide creek bed that could only have been widened out so far by continual avalanche activity. This was made even more obvious by the clear remnants of said avalanche nearly down to the turn-off. By the tracks, I gathered that at least 10-20 others had chosen this route, and so up we went, kicking in steps where they weren't already. Just when it felt like it couldn't possibly get steeper, it did, and around 500 ft below summit the path moved to the southwestern ridge to avoid the near-vertical ascent. This helped as the ridge is riddled with emerging talus, some of the only relief from the extreme exposure, but hindered as the wind has been hammering the melting snow, creating hard ice that is nearly impossible to kick steps into. Amir and I agreed to go as slowly as safety required, and the final 500ft took us nearly 45 minutes to ascend.

Well worth it though, the skies were crystal clear , and the sun was great company. After a change of socks and cocktails we geared back up, prepared for a very slow descent. It's hard to believe how much steeper it seemed on the way down. After carefully working through the talus I tested with a little glisade, and before long we were cruising. I have never enjoyed a descent as much as I did this one. I only wish I had some skis and a canopy. We reached the parking lot just as darkness fell, exhausted and satisfied. 3 1/2 hours up, 2 hours down.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3729 ft / 1136 m
    Distance:4.6 mi / 7.4 km
    Route:Winter Route (South Col)
    Trailhead:Pratt Lake TH  1900 ft / 579 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Weather:Cold, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 



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