Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Missouri Mountain

I passed Pete with the climbing of this mountain.

Seeing as my dad and I had some extra time off lately, we took Tuesday to climb Missouri Mountain. It was my 20th and his 3rd.

We met at County Road 390 just before 6:00 and drove to the trailhead. The same trailhead is used to climb Belford, Oxford, and Missouri. We were hiking by 6:15 along a well maintained trail that is easy to follow. The first part of the climb is up thorugh an aspen / evergreen forest. For the first 3/4 mile, we gained over 1,000 vertical feet as we climbed several steep switchbacks up through the forest. After about 1600 vertical the trail levels out and we finally cleared treeline.

Also after treeline, we got our first look at Misouri's North Face.

Great view but we still had a long way to go. We were still below 12,000 feet and were less than 1/2 way to the summit. We had to crest 2 ridges and gain a saddle before prior to making the summit ridge. After the second ridge we took a break and shared a Clif Bar. Both of us were doing well and we set off for the saddle.

The trail began to swithback again and eventually headed to the North. At just over 13,000 feet, the trail steepens significantly as it crosses a talus slope. This portion was no fun. Steep, slippery, and full of loose rock. At about 13,400 Dad developed a cramp. Most likely due to dehydration, we took another break and Dad started to "re"hydrate. We were less than a mile and about 600 vertical feet from the summit. He worked through it by rehydrating and resting a bit more often.

The summit ridge trail basically follows the top of the ridge. For the final part, the trail dips below the western face and there is a small class 3 "climb" prior to the summit.

I was a few minutes ahead of Dad and while I was waiting I heard and saw a rockslide. It was amazing to see rocks the size of cars crash and roll down a mountainside.

We made the summit 5 minutes later at 11:15. The views were amazing. We could see all the major ranges from the summit. It was hazy to the East due to the fires currently burning.

After 25 minutes enjoying the views and lunch, it was time to head home. On the ascent, we spotted a snow field that we could decend. We decended the ridge but took a right turn about 1/4 mile from the saddle. We decended the gully to the snowfield and glissaded the snowfield. About 1/2 way down we looked to the right and there stood a mountain goat that was watching us and wondering "What are they doing?" By taking this shortcut, we were able to cut at least a mile off of our decent plus we were able to skip the talus slope that gave us a hard time on the ascent.

The knee feeling well, we continued the decent. Dad's knee and cramp were doing better and from here on out it was a straight forward hike out to the car. 3 miles and 2 hours later we were at the car. It was a great day that was enjoyed by both of us.

The stats:

  • 8 hours 40 minutes of total climbing (6 hrs up, 3 down)
  • 5 hours hiking, 3 hours 40 minutes resting
  • 9.75 total miles
  • 4600 total elevation gain
  • 17 feet per minute average ascent rate
  • 27 feet per minute average decent rate


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