Ascent of Low Mountain on 2012-12-15

Climber: Chad Straub

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, December 15, 2012
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Low Mountain
    Elevation:5350 ft / 1630 m

Ascent Trip Report

Low Mountain has been on my radar for some time now, having failed two summit bids due to soft snow and lack of proper gear. So needles to say, I was stoked to see a recent trip report by a few NWHikers with snowshoes. Thanks to Gimpilator, EastKing, and Jacob Smith for packing down a nice trench for me!

The road is covered in snow from the junction at Asahel Curtis, and I was lucky to make it within a 1/4 mile of the trail head (which was covered in 1-2' of powder) with balding passenger tires.

Leaving the car just before 8 o'clock, I made good time up to the first crossing of Denny Creek which had just enough solid snow to make a safe crossing. The first talus field caused me a few post-holes but by the second open section the trench began to fill in with powder, providing a little more staying power.

As forecast, snow began to fall around 9:30 and the wind began to pick up as I approached the pass. Beyond Hemlock Pass the trench was only sporadically visible under several inches of new snowfall and drift. There were a few short sections where the ridge became very narrow with significant exposure on either side providing some route-finding challenges between trees and away from corniced edges. I turned back after seeing some concerning movement in the steep snowy banks below the summit.

Before I had descended half of the North ridge, my own trench was almost indistinguishable under heavy snowfall and wind drift. As is my usual luck, the fog began to lift and the snowfall slowed within 20 minutes of leaving the summit. Between the pass and the falls I encountered a pair of skiers skinning their way up and a group of over a dozen snowshoers on their way to Melakwa Lake.

Pictures at
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3250 ft / 990 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3250 ft / 990 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.8 mi / 15.8 km
    Grade/Class:class 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Bivouac
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Windy, Low Clouds
Early fog, snow from 10 a.m. on
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3250 ft / 990 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Route:North Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Denny Creek Trailhead  2100 ft / 640 m
    Time:3 Hours 57 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3250 ft / 990 m
    Distance:4.6 mi / 7.3 km
    Route:North Ridge
    End Trailhead:Denny Creek Trailhead  2100 ft / 640 m
    Time:2 Hours 8 Minutes

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