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[TR] Mount Ballard - West Face 08/08/2020

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Trip: Mount Ballard - West Face

Trip Date: 08/08/2020

Trip Report:

Mount Ballard 8320’ Trip Report – August 8-10, 2020

I did a solo 3-day climb of the West Face of Mount Ballard.  The weather was perfect all weekend 70’s – 80’s.  I started at the Canyon Creek Trailhead off Hwy 20.  I went up Trail 754 (Canyon Creek Trail) to Trail 755 (Mill Creek Trail) to Azurite Mine for Camp and back the same way I came in.  The bushwacking on this approach is thick, slow, tedious and outright sucks for long periods of time along Trail 755.  Trail 755 could potentially be a nice trail if it had some serious trail maintenance, but without it, it is basically a very overgrown climbers trail that shouldn’t even be listed on the map as a trail.  The Climb itself is a mix of class 2, 3 & 4 steep loose rock.  Going up is not too bad, coming down is like trying to climb with roller blades on.  Every other step is slipping and sliding.  Overall the climb is a good workout with great views and you get to checkout some history in the mining area.  The old timers in the area were some tough badasses for sure.

Some Tips and Notes:

  • 1.       Bring full gaiters, long pants and long sleeves for the extensive bushwhacking required for the approach.  I would also add a helmet,  glasses and fairly thick leather gloves for extra protection.  Any Skin exposed will get ripped up. 
  • 2.       Trail 755 (Mill Creek Trail) is very hard to stay on for about 2 miles of super thick bushwacking.    
  • 3.       Trail 755 ends in a washout just before the Cady Pass trail connection at 4000’.  It is not marked at all.  You will need to remember this spot or mark it for your return trip or you will walk right by it and not know. 
  • 4.       There is not much access to water on Trail 755 until about 3600’ and several hours of bushwacking, water up at the Mill Creek Crossing before trail 755.
  • 5.       The Bridge across Mill Creek on the Canyon Creek Trail has collapsed into the creek.  You can still get across the bridge due to some rope and footholds nailed into the old bridge sections.    
  • 6.       Once past the super thick bushwacking the trail alternates between old road and thick overgrown trail until about 1 mile from Azurite Mine.  Then it turns into an old road hike.
  • 7.       The climb up from Azurite Mine to the Summit is steep loose rock 95% of the way. 
  • 8.       The true summit is the South summit, probably about 8320’.  I don’t know why it is not on the Bulger's list, it is high enough for the list.
  • 9.       Stay in the treeline as much as you can going up and down, the traction is far better than what you will find in the middle of the rock slope.

Travel Time for reference:  Day 1 (approach), 8.5 hours – Day 2 (summit), 10.75 hours – Day 3 (back to car), 5 hours.

Gear used:  Trekking Poles, Helmet, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves.

5f406da0ef648_BridgeoverMillCreek.thumb.jpg.44bff7beed5c1484d607ad0a2d5b99dc.jpgCollapsed Bridge Over Mill Creek

5f406dbf38f5d_Trail755Turn.thumb.jpg.370a59e9a4088f7ea371be09303ca2e0.jpgTurn for Trail 755 (Mill Creek Trail)

5f406daa885ee_Goodsectionofbushwacking.thumb.jpg.690c5c7069ab8c3342628e72b66f2dac.jpgOne of the nicer sections of bushwacking on Trail 755

5f406da3ca7ab_ClearRoadsection.thumb.jpg.8e379260ffdf538cecf8e3d2c8e87a55.jpgOne of the bizarre clear road sections in between thick bushwacking on Trail 755 

5f406db484841_OvergrownRoadTr.thumb.jpg.f8931aec70d7ce2827011b0744ad53b3.jpgRoad leading to Azurite Mine


Azurite Mine Site - kind of creepy but could definitely serve as shelter.


Route from Camp - Summit is the pyramid shaped peak in the middle.

5f406db0d8cac_LookingUpCreektoSummit.thumb.jpg.774f6bd152f961302cc1eb3ceac23a96.jpgWater break


Gully to Col between the False Summit (Left) and the true South Summit (Right).  Gully is on the far left side of the mountain (North)


False Summit originally surveyed as being the summit at 8301'

5f406dc299b42_TrueSummit.thumb.jpg.e6073f15629d631807aa8cb8eb4534bd.jpgTrue Summit (South) 8320' - peak on the left

5f406dc55ba2e_UpperRockSection.thumb.jpg.1b23d3128471a2e61e15e81830aef10c.jpgClimbing along the summit route.

Summit.thumb.jpg.45ec1d56560c5bbec3c753731a06e971.jpgSummit of Mount Ballard 8320' ish5f406db7629b1_SummitView.thumb.jpg.830b15abc446c37a0c32bd4ee6e75c68.jpg

One view from the summit - Azurite Peak in the middle with Golden Horn and Tower Mountain in the background.   You almost forget the soul sucking bushwack that it took to get here.

Gear Notes:
 Trekking Poles, Helmet, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves.

Approach Notes:
Be prepared for thick bushwacking for hours. Slide Alder, Stinging Nettles, Devil's Clubs.
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Cool! I love seeing TRs of these long forgotten peaks. Sad to see the trail in such horrible shape. Much of the Pasayten  trails seem to have fallen into this condition. I had the same issue along the lost river and monument creek up and over pistol pass a handful of years ago. Books and maps said the trail was there, NF had no current beta, so we had a pretty serious schwack. 
Ballard is not on the Bulger list!? I wonder why?

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