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Ascent of Rattlesnake Mountain on 2012-03-17

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, March 17, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Rattlesnake Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3720 ft / 1133 m

Ascent Trip Report

I hate it when I bushwhack up some obscure steep ridge, only to find a driveway up the other side. That's the case with Rattlesnake Mountain, which has summer cabins on both summits.

At Milepost 254 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I parked next to a gated driveway that would have been the easy way up. Not knowing this, I headed west on the MST (Mountain-to-Sea Trail), which flanks Rattlesnake Mountain about 250 feet below the summit. After a half mile, I broke the cardinal rule of Blue Ridge bushwhacking (when in doubt, avoid the southern ridge) and headed uphill through a maze of fallen trees, thorns, and ravines--rattlesnake dens everywhere, but no serpents that I saw. It took another half-mile of zigzagging to reach the summit ridge, where I discovered a driveway coming up from the west to a vacant cabin on the SW summit. There's another cabin on the NE summit with a driveway coming up from where I parked. The two summits are about a quarter-mile apart and are almost equal in elevation (my altimeter had the SW summit 5 feet higher).

As I reached the NE summit, a thundershower began. I followed the driveway down and discovered the easier way to climb Rattlesnake Mountain. The gravel road descends past several cabins, bottoms out about 3300, and then climbs back up to where I parked. If I had followed this route from the start, the round-trip hike would have been close to a mile. The way I did it was 1.8 miles.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:450 ft / 136 m
    Total Elevation Loss:450 ft / 137 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.8 mi / 2.8 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:350 ft / 106 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Route:MST westbound, then bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:BRP mile 254  3370 ft / 1027 m
    Time:45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:450 ft / 137 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 350 ft / 106 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Gain on way out:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.2 km
    Route:Bushwhack, Rattlesnake Mtn driveway
    End Trailhead:BRP mile 254  3370 ft / 1027 m
    Time:20 Minutes



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