Ascent of Sugar Loaf Mountain on 2007-12-19

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sugar Loaf Mountain
    Elevation:2560 ft / 780 m

Ascent Trip Report

The approach is from OK-83, near the AR state line. OK-83 seems to have been rerouted recently: it is misaligned as it crosses the boundaries of several quads. The present course of the highway appears to follow the exact boundary of the Poteau E and Heavener quads, and of the Hartford and Bates quads.

On OK-83, 1.4 miles W of the AR state line or 1.9 miles E of Sugar Loaf Creek crossing, I turned N on Hallelujah Ranch Rd, which is not shown on the topo map but follows the boundary of sections 8 and 9 on the Hartford quad. The road is well-graded gravel, suitable for any street-legal vehicle, and passes several mobile homes and a playground. After 0.3 mile, the road reaches a power line shown on the topo. At this point, the road makes a shallow turn to the right and passes through a gate with a sign that identifies a gas company. A rough overgrown road continues N from here, unimpeded by any fence or gate. I parked in the grass under the power line and continued on foot up this overgrown road.

After less than 5 minutes, I encountered a gate with a No Trespassing sign. Beyond the gate was a clear area with several abandoned structures. After a few minutes without success in finding an alternate route, it was apparent that no one was "home", so I hopped the gate and continued beyond the structures up a trail, which soon faded. I proceeded N up the crest of a small ridge with a creek to my right, and this eventually wandered out of sight.

At about 1100 feet, I reached the base of a band of limestone cliffs about 50 feet high. After a few minutes of searching, I found a breach which I surmounted with about 20 feet of class 3 near the bottom. Once on top of the cliffs I continued due N up a ridge. The route was mostly open but immature oak forest. There were a few thickets, but these could usually be bypassed. On the rare occasion where it was necessary to bushwhack through the brush, it was not so thick as to be a serious impediment; just an inconvenience.

At about 2300 feet, the ridge turns NE and the gradient lessens. The broad summit is occupied by a bench and fire ring. The highest natural rock is immediately SE of the fire ring. Visual inspection showed that another cluster of scattered rocks, about 100' NE of the bench and fire ring, is lower. The summit is covered by oak forest, but the clear air and bare trees in December afforded some views: Cavanal Mtn (OK #2 prominence) to the W, and Poteau Mtn in AR to the SE.

On the descent, it is necessary to maintain course carefully, as it is easy for a person inexperienced in cross-country navigation (or an experienced person not taking sufficient care) to veer off course in the forest. I maintained my course by staying exactly aligned with a house that was occasionally visible near the foot of the mountain slightly to the right of where I had parked. This technique led me close to the point where I had climbed the cliffs so that I could find the same way down.

Total time for me was 2 hours up, 1½ hours down.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1885 ft / 574 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:South ridge
    Trailhead:Hallelujah Ranch Rd  675 ft / 205 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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