Ascent of Rio Blanco County High Point on 2018-07-22

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Dennis Stewart -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, July 22, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Rio Blanco County High Point
    Elevation:12027 ft / 3665 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a surprisingly interesting hike. Dennis and I had met up the day before to due the high prominence peak, Garfield CHP, Flat Top which was interesting to me because of its 4k prominence. This CHP only has like 100 feet of prominence so I was initially less interested but it turned out to be the far more interesting and beautiful hike. Dennis turns 70 in a month or so but is about to retire and is going at this like a man on a mission. It was inspirational to see what I could be doing in a few more years and meeting people like Dennis reminds me that our passionate hobbies like this need only dwindle away if we let them. He is in great shape and pushes through with some very incredible agendas.

Today's agenda was to accompany him to grab the remote highest spot in Rio Blanco County. Reports said bad weather rolling in early so we got up at 4 AM and ate, drove to TH and started around 6 AM. There is a lot of additional gain on this trip. Parking at the small pull out across the trail at Mandall Creek TH. The signage is subtle here so if arriving in the dark as we did. Heads up. The trail follows the USGS map trail for a good while then suddenly is blocked off near the welcome to the Wilderness sign. We figured oh here they go....reworking trails to prevent erosion. The new trial zig zags up the side of the hill and parallels the old trail shown on the USGS map but stays about 200 to 300 feet higher. It is very discouraging when the new #1121 trail suddenly switch backs all the way back down and you lose all that gain. We could see no rationale for that and there was no signs to explain why that is but the total mileage and gain is more today than it used to be because of this detour.

On the way down Dennis and I noticed that the old trail was blocked off at the Wilderness sign but not at the re-junction with the old trail so we decided why hike back up another 300 feet coming home - lets just take the low road. I do not recommend making that choice. We understood why there is a new trial half way back. The old trial has several landslides that have washed it out and made it a bit sketchy place to hike. Wet and loose.

It was about 6.2 miles to the summit and taking the old trail back around 6 miles but less add gain. Now, there is one patch of trail where there is NO trail. It deadends into a sheep herd. Full of sheep, a dog, and a cowboy. But they are on leased land. There are a large cairns with large sticks indicating you are still on FS #1121 and you simply hike past hundreds of bleating sheep.

Before the saddle called Mandall Pass the defined use trail comes back. I got a bit ahead of Dennis before the pass and told him on the radio that I wanted some extra credit so I headed up the other side of the pass to Point 12008 and thought I could run up a little 300 foot plus prominence subpeak and get back in time to join him on the CHP. I got to the top of the plateau and was greeted with miles of flat disorienting terrain. I found the HP and then headed in the direction I THOUGHT the CHP was but was off and meandered a bit adding 2 miles to me trip. Finally i called Dennis on the radio and realized he was a mile away on the other side of a steep canyon. We saw each other and he was a mere tiny black dot near the highpoint. I had a steep cliff band between us. oooops!

I jogged quickly along the flattop, down the saddle and back up his mountain and fortunately made him wait for me only about 15 minutes. I was pretty winded when I finally joined him for the CHP celebration. We looked at nearby Orno but it was a 4 mile RT to bag that extra credit and clouds were rolling in as predicted. We decided to not go for it and get down before the weather.

After, getting down we departed and Dennis was on his way to pick up a half dozen or more remote Colorado CHPs and some 14ers. A very impressive itinerary indeed. I would not be surprised if he ends up bagging everyone of his goals on this trip!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2897 ft / 882 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2897 ft / 882 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12.2 mi / 19.6 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
75F beautiful
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2722 ft / 829 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2262 ft / 689 m; Extra: 460 ft / 140m
    Loss on way in:460 ft / 140 m
    Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Route:new FS Trail #1121
    Start Trailhead:Mandall Creek Trail  9765 ft / 2976 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2437 ft / 742 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2262 ft / 689 m; Extra: 175 ft / 53m
    Gain on way out:175 ft / 53 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:new FS #1121 and old USGS track 1121
    End Trailhead:same  9765 ft / 2976 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Dennis Stewart Weekend

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Peak 120082018-07-22 b328 ft / 100 m
 Wolford Mountain2018-07-22 c757 ft / 231 m
1Flat Top Mountain2018-07-21 a2564 ft / 782 m
2Flattop Mountain West2018-07-21 b 
3Rio Blanco County High Point2018-07-22 a2897 ft / 883 m
Total Trip Gain: 6546 ft / 1996 m    Total Trip Loss: 3665 ft / 1117 m

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