Missouri West Ridge
Trailhead - Rockdale
11.25 Miles 4,250 Feet
Start 5 AM
Return 6:30 PM
Total - 13.5 Hours
Who - Blind Mule (Don) and Mickeys Grenade (Jeff)
I got up at home around 1 AM on Saturday and picked Don up at 2 AM. We drove through the night and made it to the Rockdale Trailhead for a 5 AM start. There was a nice trench to follow all the way to Clohesy Lake. (Thank-You)
Gate Just Beyond 4wd Parking
Then the trailbreaking started to make it to treeline. There is a steep West facing slope above Clohesy Lake. We decided not to take avalanche gear on this trip. The danger was rated moderate and we took our chances. It was difficult getting to treeline and traversing over in to the "gut" between Iowa and Missouri.
Above Clohesy Lake
Almost to Treeline
We stopped just above Clohesy Lake and cached a thermos of soup and one with hot chocolate for later on the descent. We made it to the base of the West Ridge and decided to leave our snowshoes behind.
Heading Over to the West Ridge
Iowa - Missouri Saddle
It was a well deserved break at "snowshoe rock"! Now it was time to head up the never ending West Ridge.
Iowa in the Clouds
Another False Summit
At around 13K we split a 5 Hour Energy. This is a trick that I learned from Robco. It gave me the usual burst of 1 Hour Energy. It was starting to snow and the visibilty was getting poor.
Don on His Way Up
Before the crux of the summit ridge, we saw 3 other climbers returning from the summit. They came up from Missouri Gulch. The down climb and traverse over to the summit was a little tricky. We had microspikes on, but no ice ax. In retrospect, an ice ax would have been a good idea. The weather was not that nice at this point. We had goggles and face protection on. We finally made the summit with very low visibility.
Now it was time for the long descent. It was starting to snow harder as the day went on. We eventually made it back to our snowshoe rock and finally all the way down to where the thermos cache was. It was absolutely amazing as we shared a liter of hot chocolate and a liter of Lipton Soup. It was snowing hard at this point. The first mile of snowshoeing was very peaceful as I enjoyed the snowfall and a new winter summit. However, it quickly got dark and the misery set in. It seemed to take forever to get to the creek crossing and eventually make it to the car. The car started and we didn't get stuck on the 9+ mile drive back out to the highway! The snow continued to fall and it was a slow drive back to Buena Vista where a visit to the Super8 was in order. I was exhausted and didn't want to drive all the way back home that night in poor weather conditions.
This is my favorite photo from the trip.
Just Above Clohesy Lake at the Thermos Cache