Ascent of Granite Mountain on 2014-04-18

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Tony
Date:Friday, April 18, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Granite Mountain
    Elevation:5629 ft / 1715 m

Ascent Trip Report

The weather forecast for the weekend was calling for clear skies on Friday, followed by rain on Saturday and Sunday. Since we had Friday off of work, I was determined not to let a nice day pass me by without a peak. I headed up I-90 to exit 47, my third time in this area in the last month. I was able to see Granite quite well on both of my Silver Peak ascents and the SW ridge looked pretty windswept. This is a good thing as Granite has been the site of a recent avalanche fatality and is known for its avalanche danger in the gullies along the main trail. I decided to ascend the peak via the SW ridge, which is considered the standard winter route. I started off around the same time as Nick, another hiker who was breaking a pair of new boots in. The trail was snow free until 3,600 ft. Not far above here, the trail started to veer into the avalanche gullies. I had been following boot tracks to this point and soon ran into a hiker who had given up on his ascent due to deep snow and the steepness above. Since I had mostly been following trail to this point, I was pretty excited to hear that my climb would be getting fun soon. As I crossed the second avalanche gully, I met another hiker, Tony. We chatted for a bit and decided to join up. We were shortly joined by Nick who I had spoken with earlier. We now were 3 hikers working together. I discussed the idea of cutting back to the SW ridge instead of following the tracks from the 3 hikers above us as their tracks continued. We all agreed to head for safer terrain on the SW ridge before the snow got much deeper.

The traverse over the ridge went well, except for the final hundred or so feet across the final avalanche gully. The recent snow had collected here, and made for tough going as well as less than ideal avalanche conditions. We all made our way across it as quickly as possible and were rewarded with our feet on solid rock on the ridge. Once on the ridge, the wind increased (which explains why it was mostly snow-free), and we all added a layer. We followed the rocky ridge, encountering occasional snow drifts. We were able to make out the other party climbing up one of the ribs of the avalanche gully - glad we weren't over there. We reached the summit shortly after the other group. During the ascent, the weather alternated between clear, sunny, and snow flurries. It also switched back and forth between windy and calm. We relaxed on the summit for a bit, taking pictures and eating. We avoided the cornices to the northeast, though I wandered a little ways above the tower to cover the high ground after I dropped my pack. For the descent, we stayed on the SW ridge where we had told the other hikers to descend. We eventually rejoined the main trail and made short work of the hike to the car.

The snow was in good shape for the entire climb and I didn't need to use crampons or snowshoes, both of which I had with me. It also was not as steep as I expected, so there was no need for an ice axe. It was nice to hike with Nick and Tony and hopefully they will join peakbagger!


**GPX note: It took my GPS a long time to get a good signal, which has been happening a lot lately in Washington. Maybe it's the cloud cover. Anyway, the track begins about 1,000 feet up on the ascent, but it's all trail, so you don't need a track anyway.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3749 ft / 1142 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3749 ft / 1142 m
    Route:Trail to SW Ridge
    Start Trailhead:1880 ft / 573 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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