Ascent of Roberts Peak on 2011-08-12

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Nate Lundberg
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, August 12, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Roberts Peak
    Elevation:13287 ft / 4049 m

Ascent Trip Report

After a grueling few days of backpacking the team was exhausted. Hernan, our most experienced climber had a bad ankle sprain and swollen with a knot the size of a baseball. Bryan did not make King's peak the day before and had thrown up each night after dinner. Andy was so bushed from carrying a pack all day and the 2 13ers we got earlier in the week along with not enough food and water and crawled into camp totally spent. Even the strong Holder brothers voted to have a day of rest at the campsite. Wayne suggested that if I and the younger sons (20 and 21) wanted to scramble Robert's Peak go for it - that they would sit around the alpine lake, eat, cool off in the water and watch us.

Nate, Ben, and I set off with walkie talkies so that they could follow our progress to the summit. We open countried across the rolling cobble stone terrain past the upper alpine lakes of the morraine field until we found the lowest angle butress we could see from camp. The topo map confirmed that this was our best approach but it was still a 45 degree boulder field scramble to the ridge above. There were few places to rest along the way and the slope exceeded 45 degrees in many places requiring around 1,500 feet of hands down pure scrambling. The entire side of the mountain was large rocks all at the angle of repose. Some as large as 500 to 2000 pound slabs were positioned on sharp fucrums and spun and rocked as we went over them.

All and all the material was quite stable but it is alarming when you place your hand on a 6 foot by 4 foot slab and it starts moving on you. Caution is required to avoid pinning a foot or hand with these occasionally teetering slabs.

Ben had enough about half way up and turned back. Wayne kept and eye on him through binoculars to make sure he made it back safely although his outfit was hard to spot against the rocks that high up. My red boots and backpack was visibile at all times from basecamp. Nate, the by far strongest of our 9 man backpacking team summited the ridge about 30 minutes ahead of me and waited.

The ridge was lines with snow runway nearly to the summit. Both of our legs and ankles were worn out by all the abuse the backpacking trip placed on our joints so we took the snow pack as the upperward alternative. About half way up the pack of snow reached an angle on the ridge where self arrest and crampons should have been required but we were fortunate. The wind had carved out large divets in the snow about a foot deep and each acted like a snow step. We had to kick step and side cut some steps to make the traverse more safe but there were enough divets to use that it quite safe and acheivable without crampons. The snow was the perfect early morning consistancy (not too icey and not too soft).

The top of the ridge becomes steeper again and a hands down class 3 scramble tops off the ascent till it rounds out at the top to an easy class 2 rock to rock jump and the summit. The views from this peak, along with the interesting challenges to climb it, and the complete backcountry solitude made this 13er my favorite peak we climbed in the High Uinta Wilderness. Nate observed a herd of mountain sheep climbing the ridge of nearby Emmons Peak. I observed 2 peak baggers that had summitted the nearby Trail Rider Peak.

The summit of this peak not obtained with some difficulty opens up to easy broad ridge lines that provide access to the Emmons peaks much easier than the Gilbert Peak and King's Peak summits did to their neighboring peaks. I flirted with capturing a few cheap peakbagging of nearby peaks but we noted our climbing colleagues below were resting and waiting below for us to brake camp so we descended the same way we came up.

The 21 mile route out included our 2 miles down the scramble to camp and then 19 miles of backpacking along the wilderness trails out past Atwood Lake and the lower chain of lakes out to the Uinta Canyon TH and finally campground. We camped one night before out exit at the upper chain lake just past Roberts Pass.

There were meany stream fords that were high with water from snow runoff from what the locals claimed to be a 800 inch snow year! Mosquitos were intolerable everywhere we camped. This scenic but wild journey out was as absent of people as I can recall in a long time. Despite coming out weenend days of SAT and SUN and passing 6 lakes filled with trout, we did not see a human being in 2 days of backpacking until we reached the Uinta River bridge.

The trout were huge in the upper chain lakes near Roberts Pass (12 to 18 inches) and many were 15 inch looking to jump into our bellies if we had and gear with us - which we sadly did not. The solitude on the back side of the range (away from Kings Peak) was most likely due to the horrendous amount of mosquitos this year and the rugged trails filled with embedded cobble stones that served to wreak havoc on joints, ankles, and knees all week.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
From the summit looking east to Lake Atwood showing (left side of ridge) the class 3 scramble up the north slopes to the snow pack (2011-08-12). Photo by William Musser.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2510 ft / 764 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6320 ft / 1926 m
    Round-Trip Distance:23 mi / 37 km
    Grade/Class:2 and mostly 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Beautiful other than mosquitos swarming at lower elevations
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1910 ft / 582 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1887 ft / 575 m; Extra: 23 ft / 7m
    Loss on way in:23 ft / 7 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Route:Northeast Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Camp # 3 at foot of Roberts Mountain  11400 ft / 3474 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:6297 ft / 1919 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 5697 ft / 1736 m; Extra: 600 ft / 182m
    Gain on way out:600 ft / 182 m
    Distance:21 mi / 33.8 km
    Route:same then Atwood Trail to Roberts Pass to chain of
    End Trailhead:Uinta Canyon Camp Ground  7590 ft / 2313 m
Ascent Part of Trip: King Peak Trip

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Gilbert Peak2011-08-10 a4142 ft / 1262 m
2Kings Peak2011-08-11 b4071 ft / 1241 m
3Roberts Peak2011-08-12 c2510 ft / 765 m
Total Trip Gain: 10723 ft / 3268 m    Total Trip Loss: 12563 ft / 3828 m

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