Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tusk O' Granite Aka West Granite 3.9.10

I had hoped to start this week with knocking off peaks off the Home/Back Court 100 but I had only a half day and didn't think I could fit one in. I needed something close which is becoming hard to find one that I haven't done yet. I decided that West Granite should fit in my time frame. West Granite lacks less than 100' of prominence to be included into the Home Court 100 so it is a worthy objective. I had read of a few routes but I chose the most direct line hoping to speed things along. I parked at the Pratt Lake Trailhead with only one other car in the lot. There was a light snow in the trees from the previous day but nothing substantial. The weather was a little brisk but much nicer than expected. I suited up and was off. I intended on using the trail until the first major creek crossing after the junction with the Granite Mt. Trail. I crossed the creek and made my way up a couple of switchbacks and on the last one I headed off trail. I was able to follow a fairly worn boot track under the snow cover and the both the grade and the brush were tolerable. Around 3600' the grade steepened and the brush became very annoying. The ground had a light cover of snow with the ground being very firm underneath. Trying to get a good push to bull my way through some of the thicker brush was very time consuming and frustrating. I kept getting my pack hung up and would have to untangle myself frequently. I decided on the way up that there was no way I was going to descend via this route. Finally at 4000' I hit solid snow. I switched to snowshoes but I think either booting it or crampons would have worked. Now on snow the elevation started ticking away at a much faster pace. I had good legs so I stayed on the ridgeline instead of traversing towards the nice basin to my East as I had planned. Soon I crested Red 2 and dropped 100' to the saddle. From Red 2 the summit of West Granite looked quite far away. From the saddle I pushed up the steeper slopes and very quickly I was on the summit. Now it was time to figure out how I was going to get down. I had thought of heading East and Making for Granite Mountain proper but since I had already been there many times it didn't hold any attraction. I thought of traversing the lovely basin below me and climb out of it and traverse to the Winter Route for Granite but that didn't seem appealing. I followed my ascent until I reached the saddle and I dropped to the West. I know that this is usually the route of choice for ascending West Granite so I felt pretty good about this choice. After dropping 200' I decided to take off the snowshoes and just plunge step my way down. As I headed West I tried to angle to the South to try to cut some distance off. I Traversed to a wonderful snow slope that had perfect snow for descending. As I nearly reached the bottom I turned back and looked at my steps through the otherwise untracked snow and that was the highlight of my day. Soon I reached the bottom of the snow slope and was in the trees. I crossed a creek and started looking for signs of the Pratt Lake Trail. Soon I spied a trench in the snow on the other side of the creek and when I looked down I was practically on the trail. Thankfully I joined the trench for the much longer than expected route out. Once I reached the junction to Talapus Lake the trail became exceedingly slippery and much care had to be taken. Even with this vigilance I managed to take a hard fall, but thankfully no damage was done. I had expected the weather to worsen as the day went along but the sun broke through and made for a nice walk to the car.

Approx 8 miles 3800' of climb 5:45 car to car

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