Monday, March 3, 2008

Flag Mt, Snowshoe Ridge, Lion Rock 3.3.08

had read a nice write up from Mike Torok from a trip in 2002 that sounded like a fun trip. His group made a longer loop that what I felt like I had time for so I pared down the trip to just include 3 summits. The plan was to park just East of Liberty and walk the Boulder Creek Road for .25 miles and then leave the road and summit Flag Mt. 3834' and continue East to go over the high point of Snowshoe Ridge 4125' and then the plan was to head SE to attack Lion Rock 6360' #64 on the BC/100. I left the house before 0600 and the weather looked to be good as I quickly made my way to Liberty. I parked at the junction with the Boulder Creek Road on a nice plowed area. I quickly packed up and was off. I walked the BCR for a quarter mile and crawled over a barbed wire fence. The ridge had some good definition and the snow was crusty enough to forego snowshoes. There looks like there is a trail that goes to the top of Flag Mt. I summited in 50 minutes. Flag Mt. offers some great views.

After leaving the rocky summit I had a short traverse through some icy spots to regain the flat ridge that would take me East. I passed some logging roads but I mostly headed due East. I went over 4125 and instead of leaving the ridge I continued on it. I was able to follow snowmobile tracks that headed my way all the way to the beautiful basin to the North of Lion Rock. Once I reached the open basin it began to snow quite hard. The ridge above me was totaly obscured by the driving snow. From what I could see it didn't look promising. I started a traverse to the North to outflank the steepish areas. I broke out the ice axe and really wished that I had brought my crampons instead of leaving them in the car. The traverse required some focus and was made more unnerving due to the building wind and the wind scoured slopes making for some unpredictable footing. I was able to find a line with a more pleasing grade and popped out on the ridge at 6250' . The top of the ridge is very flat and the going would have been quite easy to finish off the last 100+' of climb. Too bad for me the wind was stronger than anything I have experienced. It was blowing so strong that it was impossible to walk. I have no gauge to measure wind but I would be curious if anyone has any idea what wind speed in capable of blowing a 250 pound man nearly off his feet. Sometimes I feel like I am overly cautious in my endeavors in the mountains but in this situation I was sure turning back was the only choice. I felt bad for the dogs as well they weren't having much better luck than I.

I did my best to remain upright as the wind buffeted my descent. Once back into the trees thankfully the wind abated. I made quick work of the descent. Instead of going back over Flag Mt. I headed North on some logging roads that put me back on the main road about 2 miles from the car. I was happy to get two easy summits but I had hoped to cross Lion Rock off my master list. I guess I will just have to drive to the campground that is just East of the summit and walk the remaining few feet. It was a very fun route one that I would recommend.

Approx 10.5 miles 3800ft of climb 6:45 car to car.

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