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Ascent of Haw Orchard Mountain on 2013-11-24

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Willie-Weimaraner Musser
Daniel Musser
Karen Musser
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, November 24, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Haw Orchard Mountain
    Location:USA-Virginia
    Elevation:5080 ft / 1548 m

Ascent Trip Report

Had to cancel our attempt to get the VA state HP because an unusual season cold front came through and when we got to the TH at 10:00 AM it was 10 degrees with a very stong wind at elevation 4600 feet. We figured with the peak being at 5,700 feet and being top of the vicinity the temperature would likely be near zero at the summit with stronger than 30 mph winds. Doing the 8 mile round trip with a puppy in below zero wind chill? NO WAY! so we decided to do the other fine peaks in the area.

We started out at the barricade on the way to the Grayson Highlands SP and summitted the Big Pinnacle from the Big Pinnacle trail. Then we swept around the mountain all the way to the closed visitor center and ate. I hiked on down to the lower parking lot to set a new TH for this segment of the hike then we all left for the second pinnacle, the smaller but taller one.

It appeared the true summit was not the ledge that the trail takes you up but just down the trail a few feet to the west is a small rock formation about 12 feet tall I scrambled up that I thought was higher than the ledge they take you to. But then around the corner were three more interesting rock formations all subsequently taller and all with wonderful views. The last one had a nice view to the north where the Shetland ponies were feeding.

Then on the way back to the saddle between the two peaks there was a nice little 30 to 40 foot high square rock formation (from the backside) that you can climb up with some minor side scrambling near the Big Pinnacle that shows up on the USGS map. I gave these 3 to 4 playground opportunities to climb around about another 60 feet of extra gain. How can you pass up a playground of rocks on a frigid day with windchill below zero?

Plus it was so cold we had the mountains to ourselves.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:265 ft / 80 m
    Total Elevation Loss:190 ft / 57 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.7 mi / 1.1 km
    Grade/Class:1 and some easy 3
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Frigid, Windy, Clear
10F at trailhead. Colder at top and wind chill
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:205 ft / 62 m
    Distance:0.4 mi / 0.6 km
    Route:Twin Pinnacles Loop Tr. (So.)
    Start Trailhead:Lower Parking past Visitor Center  4875 ft / 1485 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:190 ft / 57 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 130 ft / 40 m; Extra: 60 ft / 18m
    Gain on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Route:Twin Pinnacles Loop Tr. (So.)
    End Trailhead:saddle between pinnacles  4950 ft / 1508 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Haw-Pinnacle-Wilburn

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Big Pinnacle2013-11-24 a460 ft / 140 m
2Haw Orchard Mountain2013-11-24 b265 ft / 81 m
3Big Pinnacle2013-11-24 c90 ft / 27 m
4Big Pinnacle2013-11-24 d360 ft / 110 m
5Lower Wilburn Ridge2013-11-24 e360 ft / 110 m
Total Trip Gain: 1535 ft / 468 m    Total Trip Loss: 1535 ft / 469 m



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