Ascent to Pigeon Peak-N Saddle on 2017-09-19

Climber: Dave Covill

Others in Party:Hilary Smith; Julie Smith
Date:Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Pigeon Peak - N Saddle
    Elevation:13800 ft / 4206 m
    Remaining Elevation:172 ft / 52 m (100% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Recent snowfall on highest ~200'. 3-8" of fresh light powder visible on every horizontal surface. We made it to the highest notch on the left of the face at 13,800', ( N side ). No way. We had spikes but would have needed crampons and axes to attempt, and had neither. Rope and pro etc might have been comforting too for a quick descent. Went to NNW knob at about 13,700' (has maybe 30' of prom) for a good view. Checked out right hand (SSW) edge, but too many vertical spots to get around easily.


On a brighter note, found a trail on the North Pigeon approach that no one has mentioned in TR's, at least that I saw. Roach has updated info on his website Mountains dot com. This helped a bit, but the way from the Columbine Aspen Tree to the upper basin has always been described as a total bushwhack. We indeed whacked a half mile from the columbine aspen tree at ~9,800' to 11,000', steeply up along the ridge. Once we got to a flattish clearing on the ridge crest, visible on the aerial photo and topo at ~ 11,000' even, we encountered a trail at the back of the clearing, with a double set of cairns alerting users. It took us efficiently up along the side of the ridge to ~11,400', to where it opened out to grassy slopes immediately below a large talus field. It was well cairned, and we added more. It was close to a half mile long, and was a very pleasant surprise. Once to the talus, we chose to scramble straight up to the high campers meadow at 11,740', but on the descent we found that keeping to climbers right (S) would have enabled us to cruise up through fir trees on a faint route, S of the main gulley and the creek.

I did not bring a GPS (bad me!) but I did turn my SPOT on to tracking mode so I could see how I went. This allowed me to see the proper route path.

If you elect to camp in the high meadow, put the tent near the NW edge against the willows, to keep it from strong breezes in the open center of the meadow.
We camped first and third nights in the upper hikers meadow just above the river at 8,300', truly a lovely spot, and water is available by walking on a faint trail N towards the N Pigeon Creek drainage about 0.2 miles.

We had rain the first day and night, but beautiful blue skies Monday morning through our departure back to Silverton Wednesday noon. Great stargazing at night, lying on the pads and bags. Saw the space station go over clearly.
Summary Total Data

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