Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, 10/24/09 Kelso Mountain (13,164)

Kelso Mountain (13,164)
10 miles
3,400 vertical
5 hours RT from Bakerville (~3up, ~15 on summit, ~1:45 down)

Surprisingly, even though I have climbed Grays/Torreys nearly 20 times, I have never made it up nearby Kelso Mountain (even though we attempted it a few years ago but bailed due to weather/avy conditions).

We met Dave in Bakerville and hopped into the truck for the ride to the TH (or so we thought). When we rounded the first corner and the road gets steep where the bad rut used to be (the road is now perfectly smooth), we lost traction and begin to helplessly slide backward down the road, ending up with the back wheels in a ditch, perpendicular to the road with no harm done.

I jumped out, pushed the front end down the hill as Dave eased forward and we were back on track, however, we needed to figure out how to get back down the road without sliding off again. There was enough unconsolidated snow on the very far side of the road with some bare ground underneath, so Dave was able to make it down no problem.

We watched a Jeep lose traction and take a helpless slide as we did, as well as an Isuzu Trooper. As I waited for Dave and Allison to go park the truck and get ready, I figured it would be a good time to bust out my new Kahtoola Microspikes and the pair I got for Allison’s Christmas present and give them a shot. They were not entirely necessary, but were very helpful for the entire climb of Kelso and descent back down to the summer trailhead.

We hiked the normal summer path to about 12,000 feet and then cut right and directly up a grassy and slightly snow covered, East facing gulley/slopes all the way to the summit, which was surprisingly smooth and efficient.

Weather up high looked a bit windy and bleak, especially over Grays and Torreys, but we completely lucked out and had a nice wind shadow most of the time and even the summit was not too bad, where we lingered for a long time taking in the views. The snow is starting to accumulate, but as of Saturday, snowshoes were not needed.

The road to the summer TH is the smoothest I have ever seen it and would be a breeze right now with studded snow tires or chains, but I would not even bother to attempt it otherwise with the current conditions, as there is a high likelihood of sliding off the road (which many people had done throughout the day).

Since we only had time for Kelso, we were glad to have parked down in Bakerville, as Kelso would have been a lark from the summer TH and made for a bit more worthy hike.

As always, the dogs were happy to reunite and had a total blast.


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