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Ascent of Greenbrier Pinnacle Ridge on 2011-04-15

Climber: Ed Wandall

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, April 15, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Greenbrier Pinnacle Ridge
    Location:USA-Tennessee
    Elevation:4800 ft / 1463 m

Ascent Trip Report

This one has bugged me since I turned back last year. However, I should have left more time to complete this. Read Rob Carters report as well, he got pretty high and his TR is helpful. I started up behind the sign to Ramsey Cascades which is positioned directly in front of the manway. The trail is still in decent shape and follows the path marked on the topo and the National Geographic map, but the most recent 1:40,000 scale Nat Geo map does not show it, so I guess they are going to drop it. Anyway, follow up the switchbacks and expect blowdown, there is a lot of it on the trail. I followed the trail up through 4 or 5 of the switchbacks. Rob mentioned that he considered bushwhacking from the 3800' switchback, so I had that in the back of my head. It looks like it would go, but my GPS showed that that face, across from the Ramsey Branch looked steep, so instead, I tried bushwhacking up a few hundred feet up the trail toward the old tower site. This was a mistake. Even though it was only 500 feet of vertical climbing and only .3 or .4 miles to the top, it took over 45 minutes. This is because the relatively clear lower slopes give way to thick rhododendron and laurel. Take the trail all the way up to the tower site. This puts you on the ridge and you can take the easier way over to the pinnacle. The tower site is neat, there is an old well, with lots of concrete footings and scrap around. The bushwhack to the pinnacle is tough, but not as bad as coming directly up the hill from the trail. A path, or game trail is a big help. There is some blocky stuff in the way, but it can be passed on the north side, without too much difficulty. I wandered around what my GPS said was the peak, missed any cairn, but as I was worried that the NPS would close Greenbrier for the day (and light was leaving me) I stomped around the highest stuff I could find and headed back. Even though I hated the bushwhack up, I was seriously concerned about my wife, waiting in the car, the weather, which was seriously starting to turn on me, and the park service closing the gate. Against my better judgement, I cut down the col between the high point and the tower site. I followed the Ramsey Branch down on the west side, and actually found the trail. After about 10 minutes, I was sure I was way off trail, but when I hit the trail, I just flew down. The rain started then, but I was on ground I had passed already and I trail ran down the hill. Never saw much wildlife, some Juncos, Chipmunks and Squirrels. Views were not very good. On the way up, Wooly Tops is in view, but clouds were blocking anything else to the south. On top, there are a few small trails off to the north for views, but I really couldn't see much, which is a shame, because were were staying at the Bent Creek lodge and I wanted to see the lodge from above. Rob mentioned spiders, but it must have been too early for them. It is really neat up there, the tower site is great. You will be alone. I took up a radio so I could communicate with the Great Explorer (the wife). This is one cool climb for history buffs, and a great climb for folks who want a quiet, wilderness experience.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3600 ft / 1096 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Old access road to fire tower
    Trailhead:Ramsey Cascade Trailhead  2000 ft / 609 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Weather:Raining, Cool, Very Windy, Low Clouds
Grey start, then rain on descent
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 30 Minutes



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