Ascent of Black Mountain on 2013-07-17

Climber: Peter Stone

Others in Party:David Stone
Date:Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Mountain
    Elevation:4139 ft / 1261 m

Ascent Trip Report

Black Mountain may be both the highest and most prominent mountain in Kentucky but I think it's put me off doing drive-ups for a while.

Firstly there's the innately discouraging fact that you are required to sign and send in a legal Waiver Agreement before you even attempt the summit (although I can't believe it's really necessary or ever enforced), then there's the approach through post-industrial Appalachian towns on Kentucky Route 160 which all look in need of some love and investment, then there's the extensive open-cast mining of coal (and truck traffic) to support the demand for cheap energy, and finally the top itself strewn with broken concrete, shattered glass, multiple humming transmitter compounds and swarms of flies. They've even removed the lower sections of the steps of the disused fire tower so you can't get a view above the trees.

On the positive side it is easy to locate (especially with the line map by Don Holmes that is on the back of the legal waiver print-out), has an access road passable by all vehicles (except the last 50 metres or so are a bit rough and we parked in a large flat area beyond the FAA radar dome but before the final left fork up a gated track), and there is a benchmark under the tower and another adjacent to a nearby plaque memorial (but even that is dedicated to the man who improved local cable TV rather than to any mountain-related merits).

All in all my least favourite appalachian state highpoint, but we hiked Mount Rogers and camped in Grayson Highlands State Park later the same day and that restored my appreciation of the region.
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