Ascent of Hightower Bald on 2013-02-09

Climber: Byron Crowe

Date:Saturday, February 9, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hightower Bald
    Elevation:4568 ft / 1392 m

Ascent Trip Report

There is no trailhead or parking area for this hike, but parking can be found by either parking at the end of Jack Branch Road or turning up the gravel road off of Jack Branch (plug this into Google Maps +34° 57' 34.29", -83° 36' 55.16" (34.959524, -83.615322)).

Once parked, follow Shoal Branch Creek north through fairly open forest until you are just east of Eller Gap or until you reach the end--it doesn't matter either way. Then, turn east and begin the climb up the eastern face of the steep ridge. At the top of the ridge, begin working your way north up another steep grade in order to reach the summit of Shooting Creek Bald. Prior to reaching the summit, you will encounter a rhodedendron forest that was fairly easy to get through. If one goes to the western side (up a very small cliff face), one can access some great views of Owenby Cove to the west.

After summiting Shooting Creek Bald, begin the eastward traverse of the high ridge that connects SCB to Hightower. While the traverse offers great views, the top of Hightower is enclosed by brambles and doesn't have much to offer. Climbers have the option of returning via the original route or climbing down the southern face of Hightower. However, the southern face contains a series of cliffs that have to be navigated and we avoided that route due to the added complexity. We backtracked our original route as described above.

Total trip time was 6:30. It took us 3:30 to summit and then 3 to return. The round trip distance we estimated at about 7-8 miles and there was about 2500 feet of vertical.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2900 ft / 882 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Trailhead:2468 ft / 752 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear

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