Excelsior Mtn

19 Dec 1997 - by Steve Eckert

It turns out we had a nice climb of Excelsior on Friday 12/19 (after I broke a ski binding on Thursday and continued on snowshoes). There was some great powder around Frog Lake (10500') but mixed windslab and bare 2nd class rock on the ridges to 12,446' (better for glissading than for skiing - I got down faster than Jim did until it levelled out a bit). It snowed all day Thursday but Friday was perfectly clear. By Friday night the snow down at Virgina Lake was already crusting up. The wind on the final summit ridge was terrible, but no clouds. I've been packed for this trip every weekend this month, and since every weekend has a storm Jim Curl and I went mid-week to trick the weather!

Oddly enough, the bearing (according to the software) from that first ridge to the summit was 208 (the GPS said 207). My compass must be off! I've started noticing erratic readings lately, not sure if it's metal in my pack or the fact that the compass is cracked. Time for a new one.

It was great to be "way back" the day after a storm, cutting fresh tracks with no one else in the area. Daytime high temp was around 20, nighttime low was 0 according to my new minimum-reading thermometer (which Taylor Instruments finally replaced after Campmor sold me a regular thermo in a min-reading box and could not understand my complaint). Aside from the broken ski binding, my OR gaiters blew a buckle, my snowshoe bindings popped a rivet, one of my car headlights went out, and we STILL had a hell of a good time.

Jim Curl replies:

>I've been packed for this trip every weekend this month, and
>since every weekend has a storm Jim Curl and I went mid-week
>to trick the weather!

Lest anyone think we really outfoxed the weather, Steve and I had been discussing and attempting to arrange the trip for the entire week. We finally agreed upon a plan and drove off in the rain. Steve's little CRX was outfitted with a GPS, programmed with waypoints from Belmont to the top of Excelsior, and a radar detector, complete with a radar detector detector detector. The whole way to the trailhead we were served up a series of high tech status reports, also in audible format: "boop boop beep beep boop beep".

Unfortunately, Steve's small car could not accomodate all our gear and his speakers, so we had no radio, and hence no weather reports. Upon reaching the trailhead, we had no idea if the storm had already passed or was poised to hit the next day.

On the saddle above Frog Lakes, as we tried to determine just where the heck Excelsior was, it was my pee poor map reading skills that turned out to be correct while the GPS/compass/TOPO! combination would have had us climbing Mt. Squat..

Score: Technology - 0; Dumb Luck - 1

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