Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quartz 4641' Bessequartz 4487' 2.7.11

With the better weather expected I was hoping to get some work done on the Homecourt 100. I had read a recent report of using Bessequartz's South Ridge to access Quartz Lake making it possible to Summit both Quartz and Bessequartz in the same outing. I had eyed this route for years but never got around to seeing if it would go. When I saw the report and read the lack of brush and easier than expected climb I knew I had to try myself. It was actually funny last week when at least 3 groups did the same climb and again this week with our group. I joked that I should put a Starbucks on the summit with as much traffic it has seem of late. I talked Fletcher and Like2Thruhike to indulge me on this pursuit. Late last night we had some more additions with Bryan, Gimpilator and BellowFellow signing on as well. We met at Preston and the second group followed me to the jump off point which is 5 miles from the Middle Fork Bridge and about .5 miles past the CCC trailhead. I did have a little issue finding the right spur road but if you are looking for it, it isn't too hard to see. We suited and up and were off.

   We walked the good spur road until meeting up with the CCC trail and we headed right. I wanted to walk across the trail and head up. But I found the going less than pleasant so we regrouped on the road. We had a brief discussion and decided to head further along the road before heading up. I went straight to the back of the line and I was struggling mightily to keep the group in sight. Thankfully Like2Thruhike stayed with me. I couldn't get my legs loose and my hamstrings were tighter than a bow. I hoped that I would loosen up before I decided to pull the plug. We kept churning up the hill and the grade finally lessened as we hit a small flat area and soon after we hit some new snow. Once the snow was deep enough to see tracks I finally was able to hit my stride. It was funny when I didn't have to do any route finding my legs returned. It was such a quick transition, it was like someone flipped a switch. The ridge finally has some definition around 3000' and at 3400' we went around to the Right of a outcropping. We had to drop some elevation and once back on the ridge I was surprised that I caught up with the group. We stuck with the ridge until 3700' we started to traverse to the Saddle between our objective peaks. We had again to drop some elevation before the last push to Quartz Lake. Once at the lake we had a quick snack before we easily made our way to Quartz. Although the forecast was for sun we couldn't see more than a few feet from the summit which was a big disappointment for me because I was hopeful for some great views. I decided for the descent to put on crampons for insurance on the icy layer beneath the new snow. We ended up back at Quartz Lake an hour after we left. Before we even decided whether or not to continue up Bessequartz I was off before I could get cold. I had dropped my pack so the pace was much faster without the extra weight of my pack.  By the time I reached the false summit I was certain that it was the true summit, but Bryan was insistent and quite right that the true summit was still further along the ridge.  In short order we were on the treeless summit and treated with a total lack of view.

   I had a fun descent back to my gear and had a short lunch. I was somewhat anxious for the descent so I left the crampons on until the worst of it was over. Last week I had ruined my snowpants so I had to use my rainpants which would have been fine except one of my gaitors failed and I had to take that off. This allowed my crampon to catch my new rain pants and shredding them just 20 feet short of where I had planned on taking my crampons off. At this rate I won't have any gear left by the end of the month. For the descent we split into 3 groups of two with myself being in the middle group. I was able to keep us directly on our ascent route all the way back to the CCC road. The last 800' of descent was steep and slippery but I managed to say upright until I had less than 20 yards until reaching the trail. In that 20 yards I was able to fall twice very awkwardly both times. Back on the trail we just had the short jaunt back to the cars. I was surprised to see no one waiting at the cars since their was one group ahead of us. I changed into dry clothes and we waited and waited and waited some more. Finally after 45 minutes the last group made it out which worried all of us very much. By now it was getting dark. The last group offered to head back up to make contact.  Finally the the first group straggled back to car after having some route issues. I can't say how thankful to have everyone make it out in one piece, it was a very unnerving hour waiting.  Overall it was a fantastic day spent with some great company.

Sorry no pictures today.
Approx 8 miles 4500' of climb 9 hours car to car

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