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Ascent of Pettingell Peak on 2017-08-11

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Chuck Drake
Date:Friday, August 11, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pettingell Peak
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:13553 ft / 4130 m

Ascent Trip Report

Chuck met me at apartment at 5AM and we drove the one hour to the TH. Since it was around 6:15 AM on a FRI it was not crowded as usually expected on the weekends. We hiked briskly up the easy well maintained trail to Herman Lake and it was 45F out. The views starting in the subalpine were spectacular. We made it to the lake without seeing one human body. The cirque and lake are very scenic especially when enjoyed solo like we had it. I am sure many people would rate this hike as not so great because of the lack of solitude but when you get the entire hike with solitude - I have to give it a 9/10.

We agreed that easiest route would be to scoot around the lake to the right and follow the rockslide along the grassy slopes. We found a use trail that would come and go. It was steep at first but then settled in as standard class 1+ to 2. I found a headwall that was more tempting than to keep scampering over the talus and boulders and upon observation it was a short 50 foot class 3 ascent with some exposure and lose rock. After working through how to enter the climb and minimizing the potential rockfall and exposure we both enjoyed a class 3 to 3+ chute along the headwall and then headed back to the grassy open country bushwhacking.

I misread the ridge and saw a chunky block to the left and headed for it and the grassy saddle. On the way as I was complimenting how blue the skies were, a sudden nasty cloud blew in and dropped first rain, then sleet, then snow, then finally graupel on us. I rushed for the saddle, wanting to get the peak before rain or lightening came in and Chuck slipped behind a bit. The snow blew by us and we had blue skies again. At the saddle while heading to point 13,418 I realized I was not heading the true CHP.

Oops, we turned back and reclaimed a few false peaks and finally made the CHP but got some extra mileage and add gain because of us heading up the wrong saddle. On the peak after enjoying a nice snack and some of the best view photos I have seen lately (even from the 14ers nearby) Another dark cloud rapidly approached from strong winds to the west. We hightailed it down the talus this time avoiding the nice grassy saddle but the talus slowed us down and half way down we were whacked by another downpour but this time it was all swirling graupel that stung my eyes. It too subsided before we made the lower grassy bench and we had clear skies all the way down to the alpine lake.

One last cloud came in below the lake with some drizzle and rain and we were back.

There are several nice grassy 300 to 500 foot prominence peaks on each side of the well maintained trail that looked like great day hikes out there also. Now, on the way down we finally started passing people and got a feel what the reports mean by this is a very over used area and with no solitude BUT we made it all the way to the summit and down to the lake before we saw a human up close so with the scrambling, route finding, crazy weather, and fantastic views. I still had to rate this as 9/10 day for me!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3463 ft / 1054 m
    Total Elevation Loss:210 ft / 63 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.1 mi / 16.3 km
    Grade/Class:1,2,2+,3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Breezy
45F to 65F and variable
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3378 ft / 1029 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3253 ft / 991 m; Extra: 125 ft / 38m
    Loss on way in:125 ft / 38 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Route:Herman Gulch Trail to open country bushwack
    Start Trailhead:Herman Gulch parking  10300 ft / 3139 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:85 ft / 25 m
    Gain on way out:85 ft / 25 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km



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