Ascent of Shaw Mountain on 2013-02-17

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, February 17, 2013
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Snowmobile
Peak:Shaw Mountain
    Elevation:1300 ft / 396 m

Ascent Trip Report

Weather this week varied from highs from 4 F to 28 F and lows from below zero -6 F to 12 F. Most days snowed 3 to 10 inches and some days were very windy. Our crossing of the lake that day included winds gusting at 50 mph and pushing our snowmobiles all over the place and one whiteout in the middle of the lake.

After a successful winter summit of Kineo the previous day, the group did not want to try another peak today because it was 8 degrees out with winds around 30 to 35 mph and gusts up to 50. I had a full pack of saftey gear, extra food, clothes, water, mylar bivysacks, lights, and route that did not stray too far from a well used snowmobile route.

Karen and I set out across the lake to Frog Pond and fought the wind to the causeway where the tree line gave us some reprieve from the blast of wind. My layered clothes were perfect and the windchill reached -20 below I felt perfect on the snowshoes. We wound along the trail that runs along the east shore of the lake and we broke new tracks in the snow. No trace of any activity in days. We reached the TH to Shaw and I started up. Moving downed branches and trees I was feeling good. Chuck Holden on cross country skis caught up to us and found us on the trail and requested we abandon. The winds were kicking up more and the party that we were with were concerned about a white out and chill on the top. Karen was already uncomfortable with the conditions and I was not about to insult our host family or push her past what she was ready to do so I abandoned and walked back.

On the way back we confirmed that Chuck was right that all of our 12 inch deep snowshoe tracks had already been erased by the wind and snow and it was nearly impossible to see Mount Kineo across the bay anymore. The temperature dropped to 4 F adn the winds were growing. We followed the shoreline back to the camp and warmed by the fire. I have climbed this small mountain before and really wanted to try out my new gear in winter conditions but with 2 votes against completing the hike, it was not the right day to do it.

This was the first time I had others turn me around before (I usually turn myself around) but I took it in stride and enjoyed feeling the blasts of snow and wind push us around on the ice over the lake and was happy that my choice of clothing had been perfect.

I never needed my outer weather shell that I carried as a backup in my pack, nor a full downy skicoat as the multifleece layers and my new North Face wind shield layer did the trick (Clothing: T shirt, Turtle neck sweater, thick fleece, and North Face WindStopper outter layer with hood, ski mask and wool cap, ski pants and Patagonia long underwear, glove liners and ski gloves; liner socks, wool socks and my LaSportiva Boots)
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:300 ft / 91 m
    Total Elevation Loss:40 ft / 12 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Snowing, Frigid, Very Windy, White-out
8 F 30 to 35 mph winds with gusts to 50 mph
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:260 ft / 79 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:Moosehead frozen lake to trail
    Start Trailhead:Holden cabin  1040 ft / 316 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:40 ft / 12 m
    Gain on way out:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    End Trailhead:Holden cabin  

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