Ascent of Drop Off Mountain on 2020-08-09

Climber: Josh Super

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, August 9, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Drop Off Mountain
    Elevation:12115 ft / 3692 m

Ascent Trip Report

We camped about a third of a mile down from the Glacier Lake TH. I left camp at 5.45 and hiked up the road and up on Glacier. Never saw the Moon lake trail and wasn't even sure there was one. Ended up heading that way off the trail at the best looking spot. Ended up smack dab into a monster boulderfield. Luckily it wasn't too bad, just had to pick my route wisely. Eventually I ended out into the broad valley and didn't find the very faint trail until I crossed the main creek coming down from Moon and whatever that unnamed lake is. Started to realize I wasn't in the best shape today. Made it to the southwest shores of Moon and headed straight up and then went right of the small creek pool to loose rock until I reached the massive snowfield. Sun had been on it almost an hour but it wasn't enough to soften it. It was a long process getting up that in just my hiking shoes. Eventually I made it to the right to where I could scramble and ended up doing some class 4 moves early on, on mainly solid rock. The grade got a little easier and the rock quality got a lot worse. All loose stuff basically all the way to the summit ridge but never out of my comfort zone.

From there I thought about scheduling a football game for how flat the top was. Made it to the summit Cairn at 9.10 and enjoyed the great views before heading over in the direction of the Beartooth traverse. Met two other hikers along the way and funny enough they were trying to do the same thing I was, but with overnight gear. I continued down to the saddle and was not liking how far of a drop it was. Thought it would be much less. Had to head up the steeper than expected snow slope and kicked in holds as I went. Starting to get pretty tired, not a good sign. Walked over to the summit of Drop Off at 10.10 and quickly got on my way towards the traverse. Made it to the first steep dropoff to descend to one of many Gendarmes. Started to go down the Class 3 (at least) and realized I wasn't going to make it today. Very good decision because I didn't have even close to the time or energy to be able to do this. Chatted with the hikers as they passed me heading to where I just was and then spotted a large gaggle of mountain Goats, first time seeing those guys in a while.

The descent was very bad. Must have a hint of altitude sickness because I was feeling notes of when I had it full on at Longs Peak. Glissaded down the snow mass getting back to the Drop Off/Spirit Saddle. Wasn't very satisfying. Debated traversing the ridge and trying to head down near Glacier Lake but I had no idea what that entailed and the topo was iffy. So I went back up and my plan was to Glissade down the giant snowfield on Spirit was that was clearly not very well-thought out. Way too steep. What I did next was fairly foolish as I decided to descend just left of the snow (looking up) Absolute disaster of rock quality. White knuckled it all the way down and moved very slowly to avoid falling to my death on bad holds. Knocked so many out. Luckily no one would be beneath me. Eventually made it to the snow field where I planned to glissade since it was no longer as steep. Narrow snow cups and not as loose snow as I hoped made for a bad situation. I somehow was able to catch myself with my heels the first 100 feet, from there I freefalled and almost broke my arm in the process of trying to regain control. Never did but I did slow down eventually. My worst glissade yet and I've done many. Learned a valuable lesson. Put my life or at least bad injury in decent risk in that sequence.

From there relatively uneventful getting down besides clearly being out of my usual self. Found the moon lake trail coming down which made for an easier time. Lost it about 4 times along the way near creek crossings was annoying. They need a sign by where Glacier Lake trail meets it. Extremely easy to miss. Made it back to camp at 3pm where Shalee and Kent were waiting and ready to go.

First Jaunt in the beartooths. And very stunning but hopefully I feel better next time and make better choices.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3615 ft / 1101 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3615 ft / 1101 m
    Start Trailhead:8500 ft / 2590 m
    Time:4 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics

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