Ascent of Ball Butte on 2015-08-08

Climber: Richard Partridge

Others in Party:Mr Quakers
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, August 8, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Ball Butte
    Elevation:8091 ft / 2466 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had hiked up to Ball Butte in July but got chased off the south ridge by a swift moving thunderstorm before I could make the summit. Today I started from Todd Lake despite the fact that the road up to the Broken Top Trailhead is now open. From Todd Lake I took the Todd Lake trail to the Soda Creek trail, and then to the Broken Top Trail. I followed the BT trail over Crater Ditch, past the next stream crossing to the third crossing. Here there is an unnamed trail headed north along Broken Top's east side. I followed this trail for about 0.3 miles before setting off cross country to the east, toward the base of Ball Butte's north ridge. At the north ridge I began ascending up the loose red cinder slope. This made for very slow going. Traversing to the east more brought me further into the crater where the cinder lessens and an easier route could be found. I opted to head up the slope toward a brown colored saddle on the ridgeline that stood distinct among the red and grey rock. At the saddle I was able to see the ridge and summit area. The ridgeline appeared to have some scrags that I felt would be a problem getting around so I opted to follow a line just below the ridge crest. This path felt a lot like the ridge traverse on Mount Bailey, only a bit more exposed and without the distinct path. At the base of the summit I chose a fun 3rd class route to the top. There were other options at a higher grade or more exposed but all of the rocks here seemed to just be sitting on one another and not attached to anything. I had no issues with the rocks moving, but should you attempt this route, I would suggest to test every rock before weighting it. A short, ~30 foot scrable took me to the flat summit area.

Other notes on the north ridge: The route that I chose, just below the ridgeline did have a couple of moves requiring my hands. Looking back at the top of the ridge from below the summit it appeared that the scrags I avoided wouldn't have been nearly the hinderance that I thought they would. That being said, the east ridge is a walk up so if you're on the north ridge you obviously have come for a good time.

Other possibilities: From the summit I walked down the east ridge to the bowl that seperates the east and north ridges. Easy scree slopes took me low enough for a walking traverse of the north ridge and back out. A completely class 1/2 ascent could be made coming up the south ridge to an obvious point where it connects with the east ridge, and then walking the east ridge to the summit. If you were to ascent just the south ridge there may be a short down climb of ~6 feet or so on the ridge crest before a short scramble onto the summit. I have not ascended the entire south ridge though.

On the approach: If you are able to drive to the Broken Top Trail trailhead, your approach to the south side of the mountain would be less than a mile.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2101 ft / 640 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.4 mi / 18.3 km
    Route:North Ridge
    Trailhead:Todd Lake Trailhead   5990 ft / 1825 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 39 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 57 Minutes

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