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Ascent of Beartown Mountain on 2018-10-30

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Beartown Mountain
    Location:USA-Virginia
    Elevation:4689 ft / 1429 m

Ascent Trip Report

A road and tough bushwhack hike …. 5 miles, 1650' gain, 5:45 hrs RT including all breaks, route finding, data taking and summit time. One of my toughest COHPs.

I came here armed with the 3 TRs (P Craft/M Schwartz/W Waller) detailing the northern approach via the Dennison Chapel Road. My experience was somewhat different so I thought best to enter a detailed TR. Except for the extremely difficult cliffs/rhododendrons sections, this is a fairly straight forward climb, assuming of course permission is granted. The distances and elevations I provide are estimates only, also younger/stronger hikers can do this in a much shorter time (anything with a moderate steep slope is a problem for the author, tons of granny breaks).

I found my way to the JCT Mountain Road/Dennison Chapel Road and drove south on Dennison Chapel Road for .8 miles to a JCT - the main road turns/continues left, straight ahead (south) is a smaller road that climbs to a corral, right (west) is a grass road heading to farm buildings. I parked at this JCT (36.94466,-81.90434, elev. 3060'). To the south is all pasture land.

As luck would have it 2 workers were cutting firewood at this JCT. They told me that the farm owner , Dwayne, was away till mid-afternoon. "He won't have a problem with you accessing his property, you can park there." - pointing to the spot. As we chatted 2 animal trailers full of cows descended from the corral.

From my TH I walked southerly on the small road that climbs to/through the corral, then across the pasture land to a farm road ( that descends to/follows the creek (on its left) for a few hundred yards. The road crosses the creek (.6 miles from TH, elev. 3300') and climbs west 40 yds and turns left along a N-S fence line.

I stayed with the road as it follows the fence line (southbound) for .2 miles to a fence T-JCT (a fence heads east here (36.93675,-81.90039, elev. 3500' ). I stepped over the low fence yds south of this JCT and bushwhacked west 100 yds to another N-S fence line with a road on its west side (probably another land owner).
I slid under the fence and followed/climbed the road (still southbound) for .5 miles to a gated corner (36.93208,-81.89768, elev. 3900'). The fence makes a sharp right turn heading northwest -
there is a little used road on its south side.

I hopped over the gate and climbed the road northwest 200 yds to a fork (36.93286,-81.89979, elev. 3950') on the crest of the ridge (NB: this is my summit ridge, it climbs southeast to the summit area). The fork road to the left is not visible at this point, its more like an animal path, it'll become obvious once on it.
I went left at this fork and followed this overgrown road (animal paths aided the way) southbound for .3 miles to its end (36.92974,-81.89995, elev. 4100'). This was the end of my road hike "Point X" (1.75 miles, 1040' gain, 1:35 hrs from the TH). On the left (east) is an extremely steep slope with very open woods and no underbrush). This last road traverses the western slopes of the aforementioned summit ridge and on route to this "Point X" all I saw on the ridge (my left) was extremely dense brush full of briars and I had no choice but to continue/find more friendly terrain.
"Point X" was the start of some tough going.

I climbed east (zig-zag) on the extremely steep slope for 300+ yds to the summit ridge (36.93003,-81.89816, elev. 4350'). NB: these coordinates and the next two (except for the one at the tunnel entrance) that I give here are more or less the same as those in Michael Schwartz's TR. I took a 15 minute break.

I continued on the moderately steep open ridge southeast 200 yds to the START-OF-THE-REAL-FUN (36.92940,-81.89648, elev. 4550') - ahead of me was a huge rock cliff with the floor full of huge moss covered boulders and rhododendrons. I looked-for/chose a break in the cliff to the right.
After fighting/crawling/zig-zaging my way through this mess (40yds)I came to the face of the rock cliff with an entrance to a narrow tunnel (???) (36.92915,-81.89641). I easily walked inside this tunnel 5yds south then a right (west) exiting in another 5 yds - saving me a lot of work.
From the tunnel exit I climbed (40yds, somewhat easier going) to the top of the cliffs (36.92900,-81.89627, elev,.4640'), tall conifers and full of rhododendrons. Here I picked up a small trail that took me southeast 50 yds to the well-worn ridge path (talked about in other TRs).

A right leads 100+ yds south to the main area (found the cairn & and added a large flat slab rock to it, didn't find the BM)), and a left (east) is 300 yds to the northern area.
This ridge path is not like a normal trail, overgrown and tunnel-like in places. I lost this path half-way to the northern area and after fighting/looking around with no luck, I had to (once again) fight my way (for about 50 yds) through some nasty rhododendrons.
I should note that in both places I had to remove/drag my backpack due to the tight quarters.

The northern area is a beautiful/interesting summit, tall conifers with a lot of open pathways (evidence of a lot of human traffic and perhaps there is an easier way up) - I didn't see any "large summit clearing, blazes, etc" referred-to by others and I wasn't in the mood to for them.

The 3/4 mile ascent from the road "Point X" to the northern area took me 2:15 hrs, I descended this same section in 45 minutes.
Also from the northern area I backtracked the 2 1/2 miles to the TH in 1:30 hrs.
All these times includes breaks, route finding and data taking.

On the descent through the corral 3 guys were once again loading cattle onto 2 trailers. They were aware of my climb and wanted to know how I did - I erred in not asking if Dwayne was around.

"FAILURES AND HARDSHIPS IS WHAT WE REMEMBER MOST."

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1629 ft / 496 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:road/whack sb from dennison chapel rd
    Trailhead:Dennison Chapel Road  3060 ft / 932 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes



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