Ascent of Rib Mountain on 2015-07-17

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Friday, July 17, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Summit:Car
Peak:Rib Mountain
    Elevation:1924 ft / 586 m

Ascent Trip Report

I left the Belmont Mound and continued on toward the current state capital, Madison, WI. I reached Madison about 1½ hours later, at 1:15pm. I stopped there to get a bite to eat and to get some long-awaited rest. I found a local a KFC and settled into a chicken dinner.

I finished eating and rested for about 1½ hours more, and I drove to a nearby retail complex in order to find some film and some more supplies. I found a Gander Mountain store, and I got some great deals on socks, mittens, gloves, and wicking T-shirt. All clothing was on sale about 50% off in a winter clearance sale. I left that store and stopped at a local department store and got some film. I was finally back on the road north at 3:14pm.

From here, it was straight north on interstate highway for about 140 miles. I made great time because there were no stops and a swift traffic flow. I arrived in Wausau, home of Rib Mountain State Park, almost precisely 2 hours later, at 5:16pm.

In northern Wisconsin, winter days do not last long due to the higher northern latitudes. Locally, the time was 4:16pm, but it was already evident that darkness was setting in and would be here soon. I followed the directions to the park entrance. The mountain is easy to find because it sits immediately west of and adjacent to the interstate highway.

Rib Mountain is perhaps the most prominent mountain in northern Wisconsin due to a prominence of about 700ft. A large skiing area is located on the slopes of the mountain, and it can be seen at nighttime from miles away because all the slopes are lighted.

I climbed the mountain road and passed through an open admission gate. There was no attendant present at this late hour of the day. At the top was a large observation deck on the north side of the summit road, and I parked in the lot at the summit.

It was cold, but extremely still at the summit. Nearing dusk, I intended to hurry this visit and be on my way. From my car, I hiked about 100 steps up about 20 feet to the base of a rock pile that marked the summit. Actually, this was a large rock pile that added about 35 feet from ground level. The pile consisted of large boulders, and it had been climbed many times based on the graffiti present all over the rocks.

I began climbing the rock pile on a path I found among the boulders. However, a little over half way up, I got concerned about the awkward footing that existed due to snow and ice covering most of the rocks. I decided to stop my effort about 15ft from the top because I was only wearing tennis shoes that were quite slippery. I consider this a “bagging” though because rock climbing is not on my resume – this was actually more technical than I would attempt in a more-risky situation.

Back on the ground, I strode to the base of the tower, another 96-step wooden “A-frame”. I climbed the tower and took a few pictures.

Rib Mountain is listed at 1924ft. By my estimates, the parking lot was at about 1869ft and the base of the rock pile was 1889ft. Reaching the peak of the rocks would make my total gain about 55ft (40ft to the end of my summit attempt). The base of the tower sat at about 1894ft, and the tower top was about 1956ft. The elevation at the park entrance sign was estimated to be about 1209ft making the mountain about 715 tall by my estimates.

I descended about 125 steps from the base of the tower back to the car. At 5:57pm, I left Rib Mountain, and I stopped near the base for a couple minutes to read the map directions to the Timm’s Hill/Rib Lake region. On the road again, I began to look around for a reasonable motel where I would stay the night. Wausau had cell phone service, and I intended to call home since I was not sure what kind of cell reception would be encountered farther north.

I found a Day’s Inn, and the manager gave me a price break to get a king-size bed for $49. I was in my motel room in time to watch the second half of the playoff football game that saw my beloved Indy Colts beat the Baltimore Ravens to earn their first home field-advantage to play for the AFC Championship next week against the New England Patriots.

Extremely tired, I fell asleep after the game for about 5-6 hours. I awakened around 1:30am and realized I had not called home. I called and left a phone message, and then I went back to bed.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:55 ft / 17 m
    Route:Trail around east side of rock pile
    Trailhead:Summit Parking Lot  1869 ft / 569 m
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Clear

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