Monday, March 10, 2008

"Platte Peak" 11,941

“Platte Peak” 11,941
~10 miles/3,681 vertical
From N. Ben Tyler Trailhead
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave Hale, Scooby, Shep and Sierra

In an effort to avoid the nasty weather predicted for the high country, we figured we would settle an old score with “Platte Peak” (since we completely missed it in the poor weather in early December and climbed Kenosha by mistake).We met up at the N. Ben Tyler TH a bit before 9 and were on the trail a few minutes after. We clomped along on packed trail/dry ground in our snowshoes for what seemed like quite a long time. We eventually got sick of this and removed them, only to find that we needed them again minutes later. Oh well, when you need them, you really need them. The snow got progressively deeper as we ascended and Dave did a great job breaking trail while I hung back and waited for Allison to tend to blisters.As the valley began to steepen, we decided that we would beeline it toward the summit and save us a bit of distance since the indistinguishable remnants of weeks old trail was quickly fading. It was here the real fun began as we trudged up through the ever steepening, bottomless, unconsolidated snow on North facing slopes. It seemed as if we were going nowhere and frequent checking of the GPS confirmed this in an oh so painful way. It was a very high level of effort to even make any forward progress. Every now and then, we just literally could not go up, so we would just traverse left until we found more solid snow, then head up again. Up, left, up, left..... as Dave and I took turns breaking trail.As soon as we were getting pretty fed up with this, we emerged from the trees and encountered an nice, bare, rocky, grassy slope. We stashed the snowshoes and then cruised on up to the ridge. It was still another 4/10th of a mile, but it was total easy street and we were quite proud of ourselves to make it here on account of the wallowing.We spent a little over 20 minutes enjoying the nice, calm summit and remarking that it looked a bit worse on the higher peaks.The trip down was a complete blast. Easy walking along the ridge, then world class snowshoe skiing as we picked a more direct and steeper line back down to the trail. We were glad to be in the trees and on generally safe terrain as we heard some good “whoomphing” from time to time, a first for me.We made it back to the car in 2.5 hours, vs. 5.5 for the ascent. This was quite the hard earned 11er, yet one of the more rewarding days in the last week at least.Pictures: