In an effort to get back to some blogging, here is one on a pretty cool and new traverse we did in the Gore a few Saturdays ago. Having done many of the ridge traverses down the central spine of the Gore Range, there was still one spicy section of ridge that I always wondered about. It was a gnarly looking section of seemingly rotten towers interspersed with some sections of good Gore granite between Hail Peak and a minor summit called “Sleet”, a name coined by Stan Wagon. I had gazed upon this small section of ridge for years from all different angles and wondered if it would go through. I inquired with Stan about possible completed traverses of this section of ridge which he knew of none. Finally the weekend before, I decided to trail run the same loop in which I would attempt the ridge, but just remained in the small basin containing Snow Lake immediately to the south of the ridge. I did some decent recon on this ridge from below and from up higher on Snow Pass and Snow Peak all the while having a great run of a loop I’ve always wanted to run. I even met a Great Dane named Merlin on the summit of Snow Peak, quite the treat as I didn’t know 160lb+ dogs climbed obscure Gore 13ers. It made me miss my numerous Gore summits with Rainie and Kona.
It turned out that J and good pal Marc Barella could join me. Also, Caroline Kurio, a friend of Marc, would also be joining us as I met her skiing Torreys Peak back in June. We departed the Gore Creek TH maybe around 5:45am and motored the almost 5 miles east up the Gore Creek Trail to the junction with the Gore Lake trail at the familiar Recen Brothers grave sites. We then set off north up the Gore Lake trail past the unmarked turnoff to what we call “Zodiac Pond” and eventually left the Gore Lake trail and bushwhacked up into the Snow Lake basin and up Hail Peak’s boulder-strewn southeast face. I had climbed Hail Peak before a few years ago with Reid Jennings running the trails and hiking the off-trail boulders, so I knew the ascent to Hail at least.
I believe we arrived on Hail’s summit around 9am or so. Only staying up top for maybe 15-20 minutes, long enough to get a snack and water, we descended Hail’s west ridge for some nice, moderate scrambling on pretty solid rock.
We reached what appeared to be the last crux to get to the low point of the traverse. We sought out a few different downclimbs but wanted to keep the rope and webbing in my pack. We finally decided on a low 5th class, decently exposed downclimb which worked out quite nice.
Some nice scrambling ensured up and over a few towers and everything was going pretty smoothly.
We saw a sliver of a ridge lead to the next tower and decided to take it. Otherwise, it would have been some nasty rappel into a deep slot.
I traversed on over to the summit of the next tower trying to find a downclimb, but it was a no-go. I backtracked and found a nice little bypass under the tower on the ridge’s north side.
There was one more tower that I went up to and beyond to find a downclimb but again would have needed to rappel it. Instead of wasting webbing on a rap anchor, I just went back down and continued on the north side ledge traverse
We then hiked up to the ridge proper west of Sleet’s summit and then back east to the summit.
We still had some distance to cover over to Snow Pass, so we got moving.
Most of the remaining ridge over to Snow Pass was some pretty cool and very solid class 3/4 scrambling. Super fun.
We had seen a herd of goats far off near Snow Pass earlier in the morning only to find them on the last tower of the scrambly portion of this ridge. This was such a treat.
We made it over to Snow Pass, dropped the packs and gear, and jetted up Snow Peak since Caroline and Marc had not been up it. It was a good way to finish up the day.
We quickly descended back to Snow Pass and then down to Deluge Lake for a nice dunk in the cold, refreshing water with a sandy bottom for the toes. Man, that felt nice! the walk down from Deluge was hot and smoky, but we arrived at the Gore Creek TH by 3:15pm.
It was a good day out with a great crew. Always feels good when you have no previous knowledge of a section of ridge yet it all goes through and works out nicely. There have been a few of these types of adventures for me over the last 15 years in the Gore and I do cherish them.