Ascent of Elk Mountain on 2014-06-22

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, June 22, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Elk Mountain
    Elevation:2260 ft / 688 m

Ascent Trip Report

This wilderness is full of critters to see. I got up at 5:30 AM in Lawton, packed, ate and drove to the Sunset Picnic Area parking near Elk Mountain. I was able to hit the trail by 6:30 AM while it was cool. I was warned at this time of year it could reach 90F and brutal late afternoon and to be down out of the wilderness by 11 AM especially if you are hiking solo.As it turned out, the overcast and wind kept temperature below 80 until after lunch!

I saw several deer, bison, rabbit, 2 coyotes, turkey, billions of millipedes and the largest striped skunk I have ever seen. Very active place in the morning.

Once achieving the top of Elk Mountain it was time to find the actual peak. I saw two candidate peaks. The one on this database is taller according to the topo but the other at times looked taller to me. The first peak is a cluster of nice scrambling boulders on the north side of Elk Mountain as you backtrack NW against the Elk Trail coming up. It is an easy scramble to the top. But off in the distance you see this large elephant looking rock beyond the large ravine. I had to go check it out too thus the long route, time, and extra gain. I worked back SW and realized I had to scramble down the ravine. In doing so, I scared up a deer and a large striped skunk that put his tail up and warned me.

Path finding up to the big elephant back rock was the most difficult route finding for me of the day. I continually guessed wrong following large slabs that had crevasses and slots too wide and too deep to down-climb or jump so I wondering around by myself for sometime before I found a gentle seam to follow and a narrow ledge but then once you are up against the south face of the big rock you see no way up it. It is a huge boulder that sticks up and can be seen like a beacon in all directions. I went around it in all directions and on the back side (north face) it is not as imposing but it would take a class 5 smear climber to play on that big boy.

Crossing back over the ravine further to the SW I encountered the third area plateau above the 2200 foot contour. Here, there is another large rock formation that rivals as the true summit but it does not look at tall as the big elephant rock or the peak as shown in this database to the north. But from an advantage point near the southern peak (east side of the ravine), I spotted a beautiful peak off to the south that did not look that far away. I was alone and did not want to get hurt back in this wilderness but the call of the wild beckoned. I maintained the most direct line of the connecting ridge finding some wonderful steep slabs to smear down and near the connecting col began my open country scramble ascent of Lincoln.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:780 ft / 237 m
    Total Elevation Loss:520 ft / 158 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.1 mi / 5 km
    Grade/Class:1 and 3
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
72F cool early morning
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:630 ft / 192 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 610 ft / 186 m; Extra: 20 ft / 6m
    Loss on way in:20 ft / 6 m
    Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Route:Elk Mountain Trail to bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Sunset Picnic Area  1650 ft / 502 m
    Time:30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:500 ft / 152 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 350 ft / 106 m; Extra: 150 ft / 45m
    Gain on way out:150 ft / 45 m
    Distance:1.6 mi / 2.6 km
    Route:Open country scramble the south ridge
    End Trailhead:Saddle between Lincoln and Elk Mtns  1910 ft / 582 m
    Time:1 Hours 
Ascent Part of Trip: Charon's Garden Wilderness

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Elk Mountain2014-06-22 a780 ft / 238 m
2Mount Lincoln2014-06-22 b391 ft / 119 m
3Elk Mountain-Not to summit2014-06-22 c350 ft / 107 m
4Bat Cave Mountain2014-06-22 d300 ft / 91 m
5Bat Cave Peak2014-06-22 e350 ft / 107 m
6Little Baldy2014-06-22 f220 ft / 67 m
Total Trip Gain: 2391 ft / 729 m    Total Trip Loss: 2391 ft / 728 m

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