Ascent of Catamount Overlook on 2019-04-06

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, April 6, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Catamount Overlook
    Elevation:9462 ft / 2884 m

Ascent Trip Report

Purchased annual pass to State Parks. $8 day use. $80 annual pass and if you want the hang tag that costs $120 per year and I sprung for that because I could see me coming her more often for mountain biking.

parked at the upper Catamount trailhead parking and picnic area and took the Dine Meadow Trail cutoff to the Mason Creek Trail. The trail was VERY icy. Crampons would have been overkill but YakTracks would be marginally effective. I had microspikes and walking poles which where the perfect combination to hike across constant compacted snow and ice. I would estimate that 80% of the trail for the 3 mile journey needed microspikes and only 20% was free from ice. There were a few places where I post-holed but never more than my knee. My walking sticks measures snow depth in the treed areas of up to 2 feet still along the trail. It is a long slog to the peak. There are two peaks and neither aligned well with my GPS. The topo point does not match up with the actual peak. I circled and hiked back and forth wasting a lot of time before I verified I had tagged the correct summit and picked up a bunch of extra gain doing so. No great views from the peak. The actual OVERLOOK is not the peak. It is a little further down trail and had decent views. Then off to the next peak.

PikesPeak Overlook -
Again the peak is not the overlook. The peak has better views than Catamount and requires a brief class 2 to 2+ to summit. I made the mistake of following tracks in the snow the wrong way and headed downhill a ways before Realizing my mistake and backtraking. Thus, some needles add gain again. The actual overlook once again is a bit beyond and provided much better views than Catamount Overlook. But more importantly, there was a very impressive pinnacle near the summit that looked far more impressive than either Catamount or Pike Peak Overlook Summit. It had an impressive 5 foot cairn at the summit and looked like some bad ass climbing. I decided to bushwhack over there and see if it could be climbed.

Pikes Peak Overlook Pinnacle -
After studying this feature for some time, I could see one doable route up the peak that might avoid the very technical class 5 wall. I could see the route, a downclimb of class 2+ / 3 to the saddle, downclimb below the saddle to avoid the snow pack. Upclimb to the face of the wall, downclimb into the talus and across the south side and head for the small coloiur/gully that was filled with snow. Above That lethal drop was an apparent break in the cliff band with a small ledge that might be passable. Once you get past that crux it is an easy class 3 to the ridge and then class 2+ to the summit. I followed the line verifying that all other options appeared to be class 5 and most not easy lower class 5. Getting the crux, it looked tough. Clearly class 4 with a lethal fall to the left. To the right is a steep wall at around 80 degrees. The ledge was sloped down and only 18 inches wide. There were some wonderful flat ledges for your feet but they were only 4 inches wide and right up against the wall. Yikes! if the wall was less steep you could use the 4 inches step ledges and ascend staying balanced over your feet but the wall was so close you really lean a bit out toward the fall. The wall has some places to touch balance and assist you step up. The ascent is really not that technical but it is awkward from a balance perspective and unforgiving if you lose balance. I studied it knew I could easily make the ascent. Leaning into the wall and carefully using each up step. No problem. But then I tried to imagine getting down. Facing the cliff edge and trying to aim for 4 inch wide steps. It is one thing to step up 6 to 18 inches and land balanced; but quite another to step down say 18" and try to make a soft controlled balanced landing especially when you have a wall pushing toward the fall. I realized the only safe way to execute the down-climb would be to backdown the way you come up step for step. But that meant descending backwards and trying to hit a 4 inch ledge step without losing ones balance. Not to mention, I get a bit unnerved trying to find steps looking backwards. No rope, not spotter to help me. No way. I backed away. Personally, I would want to be roped up for the descent or rappel off the wall.

People have obviously done the ascent based on the cairn. I don't know if they class 5 climbed the wall with protection or did the class 4+ move I chickened out on.

Eagle Cliffs Overlook -
This is the best of three easily obtainable summits. But I paid for this one. Coming down from the last peak (Pikes Peak Overlook Peak) I followed a heavy trail of snow foot prints and post-holed in 18' snow trying to intersect with the Mason Creek Trail. As luck would have it, the people I was following intersected 10 feet beyond the trails where it jogs 90 degrees and whoever I was following blazed an off trail all the way down to the creek and I followed it and then realized that they were lost. Now I had no other choice but to hike all the way back up thus more unnecessary additional gain and mileage. Once I got to the final peak, I could not immediately find the side trail the summit so I headed up slope in deep snow and cliffed out and had to climb down a very steep and deep snow bank to get back on track. This time the snow was a good three feet deep. Finally, finding the right trail it is a short easy climb with a very easy class 2+ to class 3 finish. The views from the Eagle Cliffs Peak are by far the best of the three and worth bringing Karen and Willy back to see.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1189 ft / 362 m
    Total Elevation Loss:107 ft / 31 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1189 ft / 362 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1124 ft / 343 m; Extra: 65 ft / 19m
    Loss on way in:65 ft / 19 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Mason Creek to Bear Paw Trail
    Start Trailhead:Paved Parking Lot   8338 ft / 2541 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:42 ft / 12 m
    Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    End Trailhead:9420 ft / 2871 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Evergreen-26

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Catamount Overlook2019-04-06 a1189 ft / 362 m
2Pikes Peak Overlook2019-04-06 b140 ft / 43 m
3(Attempt) Pikes Peak Overlook Pinnacle2019-04-06 c150 ft / 46 m
4Eagle Cliffs Overlook2019-04-06 d513 ft / 156 m
5The Brother2019-04-06 e523 ft / 159 m
6Three Sisters-South Peak2019-04-06 f165 ft / 50 m
7Three Sisters-Middle Peak2019-04-06 g195 ft / 59 m
8Three Sisters-North Peak2019-04-06 h140 ft / 43 m
Total Trip Gain: 3015 ft / 918 m    Total Trip Loss: 972 ft / 296 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by William Musser
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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