Monday, April 21, 2008

The Ark 4.21.08

I had a surprise when I had a couple bites for a partner post from last year. Somehow the post had been bumped to the top and since it was for the same time frame I could see why there would be some confusion. As it turned out only Don B. would be able to make it. I have read many reports from Don regarding his superhuman ski trips so I was eager to meet up at 0600. As it turns out Don does much more than just skiing and is one of the few people out there who can understand the compulsion to climb obscure peaks. When it comes to obscure The Ark ranks right up there. I had tried last year and was turned around by some tricky cornices. This year I was turned back by lack of access due to the heavy snows on the Middle Fork Road. I was unable to find any info on the conditions so we decided to wing it. The road had some fresh snow but was in good shape except one portion where the road has slumped. I almost skidded off the drop but managed to stop just in time. The area can easily be passed on the right. We made it to the Taylor River Road where we were only able to drive a short ways . I turned around and parked near the road junction. The weather was warmer than it has been recently but was still quite cold for mid Spring. We booted to the Quartz Creek Road where we switched to snowshoes. The road is a tangle of broken trees and snow laden trees that make for less than straight line walking. The snow was not making for quick work and I really questioned whether our day's objective would be met. Soon we were to the junction with Sunday Creek Road. We headed right at each intersection. Around the 3rd switchback there is less than obvious road that must be taken. I had remembered this from my try last year. At around 3000' we left the road and made our way up tending to our left to get into the beautiful when snow covered basin below The Ark. Once we were in the basin I decided that I wanted to cross the creek and head up the mostly open slopes to reach the summit ridge West of the summit. Last time I stayed in the basin until I reached the South Ridge. When we reached the basin the sun broke through and was quite warm. This gave us some worry with the slopes above us drenched in sun. We stayed mostly in the trees and kept out of the more open slope. Don had been doing most of the grunt work breaking trail in the sloppy snow. As the climb steepened he led the whole way. I had an immense amount of trouble because his steps would not hold my heft and I was forced to crawl some short sections. To make matter even worse I started cramping which thankfully abated. After what seemed an eternity we crested the ridge at around 4900'. We had a quick bite and layered up because the sunny weather had evaportated into some cold windy weather. We dropped pack and made our way along the enjoyable ridge with some nice views of Mowitch lake straight below us. Soon we reached the summit rocks which would be much more difficult without the heavy snow cover. There was just enough room at the top for both of us 5339' #74 HC/100. The sun broke through just as we reached the summit giving us some stunning views of the many peaks of the Garfield Group and Treen Peak as well. I was upset with myself for leaving the camera in my pack. I had projected an 8 hour round trip so with it taking us nearly 7 hours to reach the summit I couldn't stay long. We quickly made our way back to our stowed belongings. We started the descent we did some slow motion glissades to regain the basin below us. The road walk out seemed to take forever. Just before we exited the Quartz Creek Road it began to snow and blow urging me to walk just little faster. Thanks Don for a most enjoyable day I hope to repeat in the near future.

Approx 12 miles 4300ft of climb 9:45 car to car

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