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Ascent of Black Mountain-Northeast High Peak on 2019-11-03

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Sunday, November 3, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Mountain-Northeast High Peak
    Location:USA-Kentucky/Virginia
    Elevation:3720 ft / 1133 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had been dreading this one for a while, due to the active coal mine on the Virginia side of the peak. It turns out I didn't need to.

Thanks to a piping-hot serving of some fresh beta from Jobe Wymore, I knew my plan of attack on this one. Get to KY-932 a bit over the Virginia line, to N 37 4.070' W 82 44.943', where there's a steep gravel road that enters gas company land; the sign here references blasting operations (and that roads back in here will be closed if they happen) but does not prohibit entry otherwise. This road climbs steeply to a saddle where you'll stay left at a split, then descends where you'll stay left at two successive junctions. The last bit of road I drove was a bit more hairy, with a muddy section, and one giant standing water puddle where you have to drive way up on the side of the road to bypass it! However, if it hasn't rained in a few days, it should be passable to most cars. I reached a gas tank at the start of my GPS track and decided not to press my luck on the last bit of road up to the 4-way at the saddle; those with high clearance and/or 4WD should have no problem.

From that saddle at 2300', turn R and head uphill on an old ATV track. This thing gets STEEP! After a few hundred feet of ascent, you'll meet another major road; stay left, then turn sharp right at a switchback junction and continue uphill on a better road. This will eventually meet a mining strip and road at 3000'. Turn left, and follow the road through several muddy sections as it contours across the face of the peak. After maybe 20 minutes, the road enters a small patch of real woods, then climbs very steeply to meet the ridge (keep an eye out for this junction on the way back). You're now on the state line, and just a few dozen feet from the massive, bare, moonscape that is the mine on the Virginia side.

Continue up this ridgeline, increasingly steeply, on an old, overgrown ATV track. It will finally level out at a small clearing, where you'll go a bit more to the right on a more defined road, which again meets the ridge. This last bit to the summit is more overgrown, and sometimes you may want to leave the old road and pipeline to just bushwhack directly up the ridge. High ground is in a few areas of thick brambles; I believe the KY border runs through the area on ascender's right of the old road, but I can't be certain. Summit views were expansive on this clear fall day, with a prime view of Black Mountain itself off on the distance, and fantastic views of Birch Gap Peak, Flatwoods, and the Kentucky hills stretching off to the horizon.

I returned the same way without incident and had an uneventful departure, glad I had a route that never entailed actually having to enter mining lands. That said, I never saw any activity on the mining land on this quiet, peaceful Sunday.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1622 ft / 494 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1622 ft / 494 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.4 km
    Start Trailhead:2098 ft / 639 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Chris Gilsdorf
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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