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Ascent of Gray Peak on 2019-09-21

Climber: Milda Tautvydas

Date:Saturday, September 21, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Gray Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8082 ft / 2463 m

Ascent Trip Report

2019-09-21 (with David Salinger)
On 2019-09-20 we left the West Fork Buttermilk TH at 11AM and hiked over Fish Creek Pass (FCP) and set up camp on the south side of the pass; then returned over FCP and took trail 411 northerly for a short way, then left the trail and contoured at 7,400 feet, then gained the saddle between Courtney and Buttermilk (7,700') and ascended 3rd class large boulders and blocks to the summit of Buttermilk. For the descent we reversed our route and returned to camp on the south side of FCP, above Star Lake and near the trail. The following morning, 2019-09-21, we took trail 1248 westerly to trail 1259 and crossed the first creek (the east creek) that descend's Gray's south slope (good water). We ascended a treed bench west of the creek (ascender's left) and quickly gained Gray's broad, upper south slope. Above the trees it is easy travel on open, grassy terrain to the summit. Great views. We spent 90 minutes++ on the summit, then descended Gray's east ridge to Courtney's west ridge and ascended fun, 3rd class blocks (smaller boulders than on Buttermilk) over Courtney's false summits, staying on the ridge crest the entire way to the summit of Courtney. The last time we summitted Courtney was 2008-10-12, after summitting Star. We spent nearly an hour on top of Courtney enjoying the weather and the views, then descended to FCP and to our camp south of FCP. There were several parties in the area climbing the top 100 peaks. A decade ago these mountains were high and lonesome (in a good way) in the late season. Times have changed. We packed up and hiked out to the West Fork Buttermilk TH just before 5:00 PM. It was a leisurley trip with beautiful fall weather (but had rained and and even snowed up high the previous days). A dusting of snow clung to high, north faces. Larches in the highest elevations had begun to turn to gold. From the TH we drove to Twisp, went to Hank's to pick up some groceries, and drove to my sister's house in Winthrop. It was a fabulously clear and starry night. On Sunday Russ Kroeker, Bulger Finisher #1, called me from his home in Crestone, BC to let me know he will be coming to the annual Bulger Party on November 9th and that it is his 80th birthday. I told him I had a view of the Craggies, the Gardners, and the Sawtooths while we spoke. He said in the good old days, Winthrop was the "end of the world" and he couldn't believe I had cell phone reception there! On our drive home, it rained heavily on the Cascade Crest and in Western Washington. Along the way we made a mandatory stop at the best restaurant of the region: Rhodes River Ranch in Oso, on the Oso Loop Road (the restaurant is in the horse arena, closed on Mondays, great live music on certain days of the week). Fun trip.
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