On Saturday, September 22, Arun and I left Pine Creek trailhead at 8:20 am. Our destination for the night was Granite Park, an aptly named area of granite benches, lakes and lovely meadows. We arrive at a suitable camping spot at about 11,500 feet at 1:30 pm. We looked at the peak and decided the ridge extending in a southeasterly direction looked like it could be climbed by staying left of the ridge until close to the top then crossing over the ridge to the back. We weighed the five hours of daylight we had left against and the distance to the peak and the time we estimated it would take us and decided to go for it.
At 2:00 pm we left our camp and made a beeline for the base of the ridge. Going in this direction was not very efficient since there are a lot of ups and downs. Despite the extra exertion we reached the start of the climb in half an hour. We went diagonally up on class two to three boulders to just below the ridge. We traversed the ribs along the slope passing under a big tower on the ridge. Our first goal was a rock pillar several feet below the crest of the ridge which we passed below. Here we thought we could cross over the ridge to the lower angled east side but there was a very steep drop off at this point. We traversed some more and the climbing became hard third class with some fourth class moves here and there. Undaunted we crossed over another rib and into a chute that looked very promising. Arun climbed up and from the top of the chute I could hear him say that he could see the summit. This chute is at a point where the ridge becomes less jagged and, from a distance, makes a notch in the ridge. It goes very nicely at third to fourth class on very grainy rock. In fact, most of the rock on this route was grainy. No hand hold should be trusted on this rock.
Once on the other side of the ridge we walked/scrambled to the summit arriving at 4:20 pm. Not wanting to push our luck with daylight we did not linger and left the summit soon after arriving. Just below the summit Arun pointed out that we could descend the southwest slope to Italy Pass. This went very well and we were quickly at the pass. The walk down the pass is very gentle and we were back in camp by 6:25 pm. As we made dinner we were treated to a beautiful sunset that turned the tops of Mt. Tom and Mt. Humphries crimson and the sky pink.
The next morning we left camp at 7:00 am and were back at the car in just under four hours. This is a nice route with fun scrambling. Options for crossing the ridge appeared to be few so finding the chute described above may be critical to making this route work.
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