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Ascent of Bison Peak on 2009-06-06

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Daniel Musser
Date:Saturday, June 6, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bison Peak
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:12431 ft / 3788 m

Ascent Trip Report

First outwest Backpacking Trip for my 13 year old son Daniel. Idea was to circle the Lost Creek Wilderness area and climax the trip with an ascent of Bison Peak. We captured McCurdy Mountain on the way. We arrived late in the afternoon on Thursday 06-04-2009 and dropped our vehicle at Ute Creek TH at EL 8,750. Then backpacked Tarryall Road approximately 6 miles to the Twin Eagles TH 8,600 feet and then followed the Brookside Trail 2 additional miles to the only flat campsite we could find just before the junction with Trail 658 at EL 8,750. The campsite was pleasant with water nearby but we were swarmed with mosquitos the entire time. We went to bed early pleased with the 8 miles covered all in late afternoon and then rose early around 6 AM and hit the trail early.

Day two we climbed Mc Curdy trail from elevation 8,750 to our second campsite near the saddle south of Bison Peak. The day was very windy and cloudy most of the time. Temperatures were around 50 degrees until the late afternoon when things got very windy. The second campsite was at elevation 11,800 making it the highest site I had ever slept and on (at that time)and only a day and half of acclimation from Florida. The entire day took 10.5 miles not including the day hike up Mc Curdy Mountain (see separate Trail Report). The 3,000 foot ascent with packs at altitude and strong winds made for a tiring full day. We could barely fight the winds to stake the tent as snow pelted us then sleet for about 10 minutes.We added 729 feet of gain since we summited McCurdy and went back to the trail and had to regain the elevation again from the main trail to get to camp 2.

Day three - the stong winds continued through out the night and our tent was whipped to death even though we positioned it behind some hoodoos to cut back on the winds. We tied the tent and rain fly with hundreds of feet of parachute chord to ensure it did not flip over as it had during similar winds on Box Elder on our Lone Peak Wilderness Trip. The temperature plummeted as a cold front blew in and the temperature dropped enough to freeze all of the water in the area thick enough to support a man's weight the next morning. I suspect the temperature was around 24 degrees up around 12,000 that night with a strong wind chill. We awoke to strong winds but began our summit of Bison Peak around 7:30 AM. It was an easy climb on fresh legs and path finding was much easier than Mc Curdy Mountain. The feldspar eroded formation were very unusal - full of caves and arches and tall hoodoos. The wind was so stong at times, however it pushed us around and at times made us lose our balance. It was a very clear morning but the wind chill winds with the temperature no better than 35 to 40 degrees out worked our clothing and we had to get down after having breakfast on the summit.

After the summit we broke camp and hustled down the mountain 5.5 miles to the car at Ute Creek. The total backpacking distance was 24 miles not including approximately 4 miles of free hiking up each of the summits. Total net vertical gain was 3,381.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1760 ft / 536 m
    Elevation Loss:4560 ft / 1389 m
    Distance:13.7 mi / 22 km
    Grade/Class:class 1, 2, minor 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, Overcast
sunny, overcast, and windy - odd combination
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1760 ft / 536 m
    Extra Loss:729 ft / 222 m
    Distance:2.2 mi / 3.5 km
    Route:attacked from the S and W face
    Trailhead:Saddle between McCurdy & Bison  11400 ft / 3474 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:3831 ft / 1167 m
    Distance:11.5 mi / 18.5 km
    Route:Brookside and Ute Creek Trail
    Trailhead:UTe then Twin Owl  8600 ft / 2621 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Bison Peak (Lost Creek Wilderness)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1McCurdy Mountain2009-06-05 a
2Bison Peak2009-06-06 b



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