Ascent of Backbone Mountain on 2014-03-30

Climber: Morris Zwick

Date:Sunday, March 30, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Backbone Mountain
    Elevation:3360 ft / 1024 m

Ascent Trip Report

Stayed overnight in Frostburg and woke up to heavy wet snow, with nothing sticking to paved surfaces. However, driving towards Oakland and over Backbone mountain the conditions changed to blizzard like conditions with 20-30 MPH winds and the temps dropping.

To get to the trailhead, you head south on US 219 from Oakland and into West Virginia. Go past the "smallest church in the lower 48" and look for the "Maryland High Point" road sign and pull over onto the small pull off. The sign points across the road, but you must actually backtrack a bit to get onto what looks like a logging road. The trail is marked by red "HP" blazes, generally with arrows. However, since the prevailing winds come from the Northwest, in a wet snow the sides of the trees with the blazes get easily covered which was confusing at times. The best advice is to always stay right. The trail also must carry a lot of water during precip, especially near the bottom. Stay out of the wheel ruts and stay in the middle to avoid tromping into hidden water under the snow.

The snow was coming down quite hard and there were 3-4 inches on the ground. This made the going slow and a bit more arduous than it needed to be. Near the top the path forks. The left fork takes you to a MD-WV state line marker, then to the high point. The marker is planted into an inclined rock outcropping which is probably an easily little scramble in the summer, but when covered in snow a real pain. So if the conditions are bad, take the right fork! The actual high point is well marked with a picnic table, a mailbox with a log, certificates and some candy, a sign post, and a convenient stand for putting your camera on a timer so you can do a selfie at the sign (not done on this trip due to the weather). They say the cleared area to the east has a good view, but in the conditions I was in could barely see 100 yards. Quickly headed down and back to the car.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:600 ft / 183 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Trailhead:Parking pulloff on US 219  2760 ft / 841 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, Low Clouds
Heavy, wet snow
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:30 Minutes

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