| Monica's Descent - Clinton Peak
Happy Saturday 14erites!
The mountains are cloaked by thick banks of clouds today - meaning I have time to catch you up on our last few weeks of adventures. Hope you enjoy the reports, this May has treated us well!
Take it easy,
After eight incredible days in Oahu, and another four of work and rest (Hawaii was too much fun to sleep), I was eager to get out and make some turns. A few weeks back, the ridge from Traver to Wheeler Peaks was caked white - I hoped not much had changed. Sure enough, the view view west from a pull-off on Hoosier Pass showed continuous snow from the summits to 12,000 feet - game ON!
There's snow in them hills! Clinton Peak (Back Center) crowns the Platte Valley.
A closer view of Clinton showing "Monica's Descent," and the south bowl.
I parked my not-so-super-clearance-4WD at the Montgomery Reservoir TH, said a quick hello to friends setting out for some ice-climbing beneath Lincoln Amphitheater, and began hiking. The Wheeler Lakes 4WD road holds an impressive set of obstacles for the JEEP enthusiast. No way my humbled rig could have made it through any of them, especially with me at the wheel. Regardless, the meandering ascent to Wheeler Lakes was pleasant, a three mile stroll through pine forest and willow choked marshes. Short snowfields frequent the last mile to the Lakes, where true snow-line begins.
The distinctively white North Face of Mount Democrat - anyone interested in a ski?
While I enjoyed the 1.5 hour approach to Wheeler Lake, the next section of hiking and climbing proved much more exciting. I chose to ascend a short though steep snowfield to gain the bench above the Lake, and spent the next half mile connecting snowfields to the base of Monica's Descent.
"Monica's Descent" as seen during the exit.
After throwing on the crampons, I kicked steps up the refrozen and supportive apron. Unfortunately, the snow conditions rapidly deteriorated as I entered the couloir proper. The variability of the snowpack was pretty wild; an unpredictable hodgepodge of frozen bed surfaces, unsupportive rot, immature corn, and softening storm snow. While I chose to continue my ascent through the steeper top section of the line, the thought of snowboarding Monica's descent after another hour of heat, or even as was, made me uncomfortable. Making matters more interesting was the onset of altitude sickness...or at least stomach issues. Yuck. Not the most pleasant way to finish off a peak. Either way, around 10:30 I took my final nauseated steps to Clinton's High Point.
The panorama from the summit was pretty cool, as storms were building across the western and southern skies. Sure, the Climax Molybdenum Mine presents a conspicuous visual scar and obvious auditory infringement upon Clionton's otherwise tranquil wilderness experience...but I couldn't complain too much, especially as I texted friends and family from my molybdenum requiring smart phone. The price we pay...
By 10:45, my stomach pushed me to strap into my board and cruise to a lower elevation. There is continuous snow from the summit of Clinton to its southern slopes - cool! I rolled over the edge of the bowl and made some big-ole turns in classic springtime-snow.
The snowy southern face of Clinton Peak, signed by yours truly!
The initial 700' vert from the summit provided the best turns of the descent, as the remaining 1000' consisted of lower angle, discontinuous snowfields. I was able to cruise to 12,000' before having to unstrap for the hike out.
Taking some time to relax in the Springtime warmth.
The hike out passed quick enough, broken up by the usual conversations that come with having a snowboard strapped to your back when its 65 degrees and bone-dry. I counted 13 snow patches and 30+ underwater sections along the 4WD road...minor obstacles though somewhat annoying.
Sharing mountain adventures with this community is a real privilege, so thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this report, and desire to enable our community to help change the lives of Children with Burn Injuries, please visit the Peaks for Peace Website and consider making a donation to a powerful cause!
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