Ascent of Mount Rogers on 2011-02-06

Climber: Lee Newton

Date:Sunday, February 6, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Rogers
    Elevation:5729 ft / 1746 m

Ascent Trip Report

I drove north from Charlotte to Grayson Highlands State Park, letting the GPS take the strain. Stopping only to fill up the car, and to pay my self-service entry fee to the park (USD 3), I parked at Massie Gap car park in the freezing cold of an early winter morning. The path starts north across a small meadow, goes through a gate and then makes a detour to avoid a regeneration area (from erosion). After a short ascent I joined the Appalachian Trail and turned west. The AT was marked with white paint marks (blazes) on the rock or tree but maAbove this point there was quite a lot of snow and I was on and off the trail as it ascended Wilburn Ridge, avoided the second highest outcrop (by a traverse on the R(East) side) and made its way to Rhodedendron Gap. From there I had to put on snowshoes as the snow got deeper and softer (due to it being a surprisingly warm and sunny 6C). The trail crosses a large flat col then ascends again, passing to the left (south) of a small outcrop and making for the very basic Thomas Knob Shelter. Only at this point does the flat, thickly forested summit of Mount Rogers really become apparent but the views to the South were super with ridge lines of peaks above the valley cloud.

Shortly after the Shelter, at a very shallow col, the trails diverge and the AT contours round the hill. From there onwards I found a few old tracks but no sign of the summit trail (no blazes). The forest got very thick and there was a lot of bushwhacking, breaking through the snow crust (and cursing) before I was satisfied I had reached the unspectacular flat summit with no view.

The return journey was made difficult by the increasing softness of the snow in the strong sun. I also got quite sunburned, having mistakenly left my sun cream in my hotel. On the way back the wild ponies were also much in evidence and I arrived tired but happy back at Massie Gap for the drive back to Charlotte airport.

The Trails Illustrated map number 786 (Mount Rogers) can be recommended for this area.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1473 ft / 449 m
    Extra Gain:197 ft / 60 m
    Distance:8.7 mi / 14 km
    Route:Appalachian Trail
    Trailhead:Massie Gap  4650 ft / 1417 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 10 Minutes

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