Jump to content

An Epic Granite Mountain Overnighter (For a novice)


Recommended Posts

Left late from the trailhead at around noon and headed up the Pratt Lake Trail to the Granite Mountain junction. Only 2 others in front of us, and a good trail up to the gulch at 3200 feet. We tried to pack light for an overnighter with a Walrus 2 man tent and 2 stoves and other cold weather gear. With the conditions of the mountain that I have heard recently we had all gear that we would ever need (Snowshoes, Crampons, Ice Axe, Picket) Once at the gulch there was only one set of tracks from someone that was about 1000 feet above us, as the hiker behind us did not have snowshoes which made for less than warranted hiking. As the gulley does a shotgun type of scenario, the trail we took crossed the main gulley before it split, then ascended the middle ridgeline (35-45 degree slopes), with the lower portion in some trees. The day was beautiful with blue skies and the sun warming our backs. At 4000 feet we had to take off the snowshoes and put on the crampons. At this time my calves were burning pretty bad since I only have the MSR Denali Classics, and with 45 lbs on my back it was pretty rough (Ryan had the Denali Ascents and had no problem). We decided to go straight for the false summit by shooting for the Pearly Gates of Granite (as they appeared like Mt Hood). It was long and rough, with real icy snow, and that freakishly long runout that the gulch has, and falling with a big pack with crampons is a less than desirable scenario for arresting. We made the false summit and were happy to see the lookout tower just ahead of us. We still had about 1 hour of daylight, so we decided to brave the elements and set up camp right next to the lookout tower on the east side. I spent some time creating a wall barrier of snow inside the framework of one side of the lookout tower to block the wind, so it might be up there for awhile, so if you see it up there, email me so I know it's still standing! There was virtually no wind and a beautiful sunset (images are available on summitpost.com under Granite Mountain). We were in our sleeping bags by 615pm, and ready for a good nights sleep. That never happened - we got bombarded by the storm, 40+mph winds blasted the tent all night, and snow kept burying a small portion of my side of the tent making it a 1.5 man tent. After much contemplation we finally got up around 930am (15 hours later!) to find whiteout conditions and winds that could knock us over. We hated the thought of having to break camp, especially after I left the vestibule open after a midnight bathroom break. So lots of gear was buried inside of the vestibule. "Time for breakfast? I think not, let's get off this darn mountain!" We got our packs ready and finally took down the tent and then the conditions worsened, we could not see down the route, no landmarks or anything. We knew that if we went straight down we would eventually hit I-90, and that the gulch traversed at 3200 feet, but how to get there?

We decended with crampons and ice axe very slowly for the first 1000 feet as winds blew spindrift across the 35-45 degree slope. Were we in the gulch? We could not tell, but it was the last place we wanted to be with all the fresh snow that hit last night, making avalanche danger a little higher. We finally hit treeline and were ecstatic, now all we had to do was get down to the trail. We wound up crossing creeks and other terrain that I never remember seeing, and wound up on the Pratt Lake Trail at 3400 feet. This was exciting, we had made it, and safely. Once on the trail we sprinted with snowshoes on as far as we couls through snow and mud until we had to carry them as to not waste time. Plenty of snow at the parking lot, and we zoomed out of there to get some coffee in Northbend. A true Epic climb! (At least for this novice) [hell no]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 7
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Mike: Date of the climb was Decemebr 17/18 (Mon/Tues)- sorry about leaving that out.

Bronco: The lookout is not open to the public, or else I would have been in there in no time. I think we might have been able to ice climb the side of it up to get to the deck and then break a window to get in. Hmmmmmmm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...