Missouri Mountain - 14,067 feet
Missouri Mountain - 14,067 feet
|Mayuary on Missouri|
Objective: Missouri Mountain (We briefly considered Iowa and Emerald too. A 9:30 start quickly squashed thoughts on going for more).
Route: West Ridge from Rockdale trailhead
Partners: Hannah and Kris
I hadn't climbed a peak in awhile, and knowing that I would not be able to climb any this summer (I'll be biking across the country), I sent out a text to some friends who also enjoy climbing mountains to see if anyone would join me on a snowy climb of Missouri Mountain. While the weather forecast was not ideal, we decided to go for it and see what we could do. We decided to do the West ridge since the Northwest ridge route would likely run through avalanche prone areas. Once on the summit ridge, we could see the approach from Missouri Gulch and it did not look like something you would want to climb right now due to the massive accumulation of unconsolidated snow.
The road up to Rockdale is completely dry, no problem for pretty much any vehicle, but there are sections where potholes abound. The creek is quite high, however, I would say it is not deeper than 2 feet at any point. It was easily crossed with Kris's stock '05 Jeep Grand Cherokee, but we parked immediately after the first creek crossing since it did not look like we could continue any further. We left Denver at a leisurely 6:30, which put us at about a 9:30 starting time. We didn't need our snowshoes until approximately 10,500 ft, or halfway to Clohesy Lake. While the snow was mostly firm in the morning, we would be greeted with slush on our way down, which made for quite a slog through slush back to the car.
-What the road up to Clohesy Lake looked like most of the way
Once we reached the lake, we blazed our own path southeast towards the west ridge. This section is very steep, and at times we had to alter our route because our snowshoes could not bite into the snow adequately. Even without any snow, I can imagine that this would still be a difficult pitch to hike. Once we gained the ridge and treeline, we could see our goal for the day, which looked tantalizingly close. However, the west ridge proved to be a formidable task, despite a relatively solid snowpack with only a few inches of poorly bonded fresh snow on top.
-Just above the lake
Up the west ridge we go...
-Hannah cruising on up
At this point, just Hannah and I continued on, while Kris decided to stay just above treeline. The weather was still a mix of mostly sun and a few showers, and the wind wasn't bad at all, so we were confident we could reach the summit. Most of the elevation is gained in the climb up the west ridge, making the summit ridge a relative walk in the park. Due to the winter like conditions, the west ridge proved to be quite challenging. When we reached the small tower of rocks just below the summit, we initially elected to try to skirt them on the west side. Since the terrain was very steep and our snowshoes could not bite into the sugary snow, we had no choice but to climb up the tower and traverse it. This was probably the sketchiest part of the climb. We were able to easily avoid cornices on the ridge up until this point, but now we had to traverse right along a snowy "knife" edge. We reached the summit shortly afterwards, elated to have reached our goal. After a quick snack and some water, we headed on down around 2pm.
-Hannah on the summit ridge
-Tower below the summit
-Hannah cresting the tower
What a view! This is May?! Still crazy for this Virginian to see this much snow this close to summer
We made it!
We walked/jogged/slid/glissaded our way down to treeline to meet Kris. Beautiful views of Huron were had, which helped me remember why I climb peaks even when they are covered in snow. We slogged back to the Jeep through slush, but were thankful for the warm sun and a quality day in the high country.
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