Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Red Mt. 5576' (Money Creek)

With the weather turning Wintry, I thought it would be a good idea to see it first hand. I was thankful that ONELUV1 signed on because that greatly increased chances for success. I had reports that the Money Creek Road was now open and since I was betting it wasn't snow covered I thought it would be a good time to make my way up before it became snowbound. The road was in good shape with the exception of a few short portions that put the Subaru to the test. Once reaching Lake Elizabeth I backed down and turned around, thankfully not putting the car in the ditch which has been my MO recently. We layered up since it was quite breezy and chilly. There wasn't any snow on the road but that didn't last long.

  After suiting up we made the short walk to the trailhead and headed to the North end of the lake. Beware that some of the bridges are suspect and felt like they would let me through them.  Once reaching the North end of the lake we left the trail and headed up. My plan was to angle towards the creek shown on the map and follow it on it's West side until we reached the upper slopes. The initial portion was brushy but thankfully there wasn't much snow and the duff wasn't frozen making it possible to get good purchase. At 4000' the grade steepened and it gave me concern for the descent, but it this steep portion didn't last long. Soon the grade mellowed and we reached old snow which was well consolidated making the going easier since the snow covered some of the brush. We reached a small flat area with some running water. We were now in the clouds making seeing the upper slopes difficult. For a brief moment we were able to spot a distinct point to aim for and skirt on it's East side. The weather ramped up adding wind and snow to the cold. We made good progress to the point above us and were able to attain the ridge. Here is where things slowed down, the ridge was choked with iced over rock and krummoltz which was also covered with snow making for very tedious travel. we dropped a short ways and then were stymied by another rock band. Thankfully we were able to drop below this and gave access to a boulder field with less than ideal snow coverage. We both had tense times trying to avoid the hidden voids threatening to swallow us. With persistence we were able to reach the summit area. Once reaching the summit rocks I had to climb a few boulders to allow me to touch the true summit. I retreated to a wind sheltered area to have a quick bite. It was very cold and most of our gear was frozen making changing gear very troublesome. My gloves were very wet and I couldn't feel a few of my fingers.

   I was eager to make my way down. I really wasn't looking forward to descending the boulderfield but it went without incident. After making our way through the worst of it we stopped and had a more substantial rest. We decided to forego our ascent route for a more direct descent. I was concerned with this because on the way up we had noticed this route was very slabby and with the lower snow coverage very dangerous. We spied a flatter spot below us and headed towards it. I realized that we had reached a short slabby area when I started sliding with no way to stop myself. thankfully this was a very short area and then I had to traverse across it to reach safer ground. Once on safer ground we were able to find a gap in the slabs and were able to quickly reach our ascent route. I was very surprised that our track were not recognizable. The wind and snow had covered our tracks. I was able to keep us on route and this portion with old snow went very quickly. We were able to handle the short steep portions with only minimal falls. The rest of the descent was very slippery brush since the snow level had dropped during the day dumping 2.5 inches of snow on everything. With persistence we were able to regain the trail and the short walk to the car. While this may not be an epic climb for many of you, this was something very meaningful to me. We were able to make our way through some very difficult conditions and were able persevere in making the summit. Many thanks for ONELUV1 for making this trip a success.

Approx 5 miles  3000' of climb 6:15 car to car

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