Disaster Peak (10047 feet)

1 Nov 1998 - by Arun Mahajan (view roster page)

On this cold wintry Sunday in the late fall, the four of us, Ron Karpel, Stephan Meier, Scott Kreider and I, Arun Mahajan took a walk to the top of Disaster Peak in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.

The trailhead is accessed by the Clark Fork Road that is 18 miles east of Strawberry on Highway 108. The start of the trail is a short distance before this road's end and is on the left, about 9 miles from the turnoff.

It was raining and cold as we started hiking at 9.30 am. The trail is good and we remained on it till we passed a big meadow and then a smaller meadow, following the directions in Pete Yamagata's Northern Sierra Guide. There is a faint trail that was a little hard to find that takes of on the right, after the small meadow but before a marked trail junction and before two large rocks. The trail was still hard to find due to the rain and the fog but it gots much better later on but then got obscured again and seemed to dead end into a cliff-side but it was visible faintly as it went up steeply on the right and the mud was very slick there, needing us to use ski poles for support. As we went up further, the trail improved again but visibility was very poor. The rain had stopped but the clouds persisted. At around the 8800' contour we headed up left, cross-country, on the sage covered hillside. We got intermittent hail and a few small flurries and the snow cover was continious once we topped onto the southwest ridge of the peak. An occassional break in the clouds showed us the snow covered summit. The frost on the pines and the calf-deep snow on the ground gave it all the feel of a winter climb. Ron put on his snowshoes but the rest of us plodded on the ridge in the snow. The summit hump is a steep talus slope. We summitted at 1.30 pm. We could not see the register due to the snow and it was cold and windy and we stayed there for no more than 10 minutes before staggering down to the plateau for lunch. Now the weather improved and we had a pleasant walk out and we were back at the car at 4.30 pm making it a 7 hour day in all.

The summit is very pretty and makes for a good spring or fall trip. If the amount of snow on this peak is any indicator, then we are in for an early winter.

Pete Yamagata's guide and some SPS trip reports have a lot more detail on this trail and there are other route options as well, but our route seemed to be the shortest, albeit steeper.

Owen Maloy adds:

This peak got its name because one of the original survey party carelessly stepped off the east side (which is Class 2-3) and broke his legs.

David Underwood adds:

> The summit is very pretty and makes for a good spring or fall trip. 

I guess that the late fall is a nice time to do this peak. I did it earlier one year and I would rename it: Cow Pie Peak.


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