Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, 10/09/09 Pettingell Peak (13,553)

Pettingell Peak (13,553)
~8 miles
~3,200 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Aron Ralston, Sierra

Allison is out of town for a week, so I had 3 days to myself to do as I pleased. I was conjuring up all kinds of ambitious plans to jump in the car with Sierra and go climb as many 13ers as I could in 3 days, maybe work on my 14er x 2 list a bit, but as the time drew near, it was evident that weather and snow conditions were not going to be optimal, so I figured I would stick close to home and get in some “local” peaks (or at least a peak).

I sent an invite to a few friends with flexible schedules and Aron soon replied that he was in town and he too wanted to get out on Friday. We bounced around a few different ideas, but settled on Pettingell, as it is somewhat short and close to home.

We met at Neptune a bit after 7am and made decent time to the TH, arriving there in about an hour and eventually got going on the snow dusted trail by 8:30am. I was expecting more snow, but was pleasantly surprised that there was only a few inches at most along the trail through Herman Gulch to Herman Lake. The temperature was in the 20’s, partly cloudy and we could see that the wind was raking the divide, as evidenced by the swirling snow devils above treeline.

Sierra led the way up the trail, with her nose to the ground and tail in the air, sniffing out a fresh set of wild canine tracks as large as hers (large fox? Coyote?) as Aron and I lagged behind chatting it up, not too anxious to fight the wind.

At the last patch of trees, we took a moment to add some layers and eat some food before the real fun began. Above the lake, the route got a good bit steeper and the snow got deeper where it was drifted in the talus, which made for some tricky footing. The final 7-800 feet were a bit tedious, as the rock was loose, the slope steep and the wind was gusting hard enough to knock me down if I wasn’t working hard to maintain my balance. With temps in the 20’s, howling wind and blowing snow, I was thankful to have packed my winter kit, including goggles.

I think we topped out around 11:45am and spent ~15 minutes or so taking in the views and pointing out different peaks. Since we both had obligations in the afternoon, we made quick work of the descent, arriving back at the TH around 1:30pm for a 5 hour RT.

Although conditions were a bit chilly, it was a good shakedown hike to help get into gear for the winter season.


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