Ascent of Mount Calowahcan on 2009-08-22

Climber: Tony Brown

Others in Party:Jim Valentine
Ken Nielson
Jeff ?
Brock and Me
Date:Saturday, August 22, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Calowahcan
    Elevation:9061 ft / 2761 m

Ascent Trip Report

A seed planted 14 years ago finally yielded its fruit, but the harvest was not without grueling effort. I first spotted Mount Calowahcan during a visit to the hometown of my (then) fiancé.
Looking at the mountains on the eastern side of the Mission valley the eye is naturally drawn south, where the mountains get taller as they approach the massive McDonald Peak and the year-round snowfields that glisten in the afternoon sun. Before settling on McDonald Peak, however, my attention typically dwells on the rugged spires that shape Mount Calowahcan, I was lucky enough to spend the summer of 1995 in Ronan where, from time to time, the mountains would capture my imagination and my dreams. I even spent some time trying unsuccessfully to capture, in a photograph, the beauty of these mountains as reflected across Kicking Horse reservoir. A picture does not do justice to their splendor; the sight of the sun setting on The Missions framed with thin cirrus clouds is incredible.
Needless to say I was excited to find out this spring that Jim Valentine had offered to lead GMS members on a climb up Calowahcan. I was eager to make the call and get signed up for the climb. My other summer climbing plans seemed to take shape around the preparation (both physical conditioning and climbing experience) that Brock and I would need to make a successful attempt.
The climb day started at 5 am with a shower, a bowl of oatmeal and a few last minute items for our packs. We met Jim and Ken at the White Oak Hotel and carpooled down to the trailhead (From Highway 93 turn onto Eagle??? Road and continue due east for ??? miles. Just before you cross the canal turn north and follow the rough road for ??? miles).

There is a rickety footbridge going east across the canal and the trail proceeds for a quarter??? Mile before encountering a barbed wire fence that must be scaled. We continued easterly for another ??? mi on eagle pass trail where we got off onto an un-maintained jeep/logging trail that took us up towards ??? creek.. Crossing the creek put us into the most miserable ¼ mile I have hiked. The thick brush and steep incline almost got the better of Brock. After ??? minutes of pushing through, and being pushed, poked, and prodded by, the dense undergrowth, an outburst from Brock told me that it was time to slow up and ask the others if we could take a short break. It was our pleasant surprise to find out that the others, who were just up ahead, had pushed through the worst of the brush and were waiting for us on a decent game trail that continued up the ridge.
A short refreshing break put us in better spirits and left us re-determined to see the summit – and determination is exactly what was needed. Although the game trails that we followed made it easier the grade was relentless. We climbed and climbed and climbed and it felt like we would never break out of the trees and onto the rocks. My legs were feeling the strain and when we finally emerged onto the rocky slopes of the upper ridge I started to feel cramps coming on. I had hoped to save my Gatorade as a treat for the top but the electrolytes were needed sooner rather than later. After downing a half-liter, and stretching and massaging my quads I decided that it would be a good idea leave our packs for the upcoming 200 ft section of class four climbing that would take us to the summit.
The upper section was much easier than expected and we soon found ourselves enjoying the views and the excitement of a successful summit. Well worth the effort and the fulfillment of a dream that was 14 years in the making.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:5661 ft / 1725 m
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:5661 ft / 1725 m
    Route:Northwest Ridge
    Trailhead:Eagle Pass Trail Head  3400 ft / 1036 m
Descent Statistics

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