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Ascent of North Holy Hill on 2015-07-15

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:North Holy Hill
    Location:USA-Wisconsin
    Elevation:1332 ft / 405 m

Ascent Trip Report

CoHP – WASHINGTON COUNTY, WISCONSIN
1330+ ft., BM 1332

Wednesday, 7/15/2015

The candidates of Washington County are 3 distinct locations, one having a Catholic Basilica atop it, and one having a BM. I did the 3 targets in the order of Holy Hill, BM 1332, and Powder Hill.

I followed Bill Shuler’s trip report to Holy Hill, which sits right atop the first candidate. There were several others wandering around the site, and the building itself was open to those interested in spiritual pursuits. I wandered up the hill and around the facility. I visited all sides anywhere access was permitted. Since you can’t see much of the hill from each of the various nooks and crannies of the church, it is impossible to get enough of a panoramic view to compare one location to another. Wander everywhere you think might be a candidate.

I then left the basilica and set off for the second candidate. You will actually pass this hill to your left (east) as you drive in on Carmel Road. While driving south on Carmel Road, you will come to a point where the road splits. You bear to the right on Stationway Road. I parked a short bit up this road in a nice pullout to the right.

From this parking spot, I headed across Carmel Road, bushwhacking NE into the woods. I soon picked up a blue-blazed trail that took me up the hill. Near the top, I encountered a large boulder. Naturally, I climbed atop the boulder, just because it was there. On top, I found a BM reference marker “1332” cemented into the boulder. I then dismounted and continued along the trail to the true summit which was a couple hundred feet ahead. I was able to find another BM reference marker, but I never did find the true BM.

Total R/T hike from my car to the top was about ½ mile with about 100ft of gain.

The final stop to complete this county was Powder Hill, located several miles to the north. As I approached the Powder Hill area, at one spot I was able to look across the miles of treetops and see the basilica sitting atop Holy Hill several miles to the south. This was quite a pleasing surprise, and I actually stopped my car to snap a few photos of the structure.

As I approached the hill on Powder Hill Rd, I noted that the road was generally narrow; it did not offer many places to park. I drove past the hill to the north, looking for the best option. Just past the hill, I came to an entrance to Pike Lake State Park Campground. I considered turning and parking, but I decided to turn around and look elsewhere. I came to the farm at 3310 Powder Hill Rd, and I turned in to ask permission to park there.

I knocked, but no one was home. There was a wide grassy area near the road just off their drive, so I decided to take a chance and park there. I walked north along the road and found an entry point into the woods to my left. From here, I simply bushwhacked north and a bit west as I summited the hill. Going in a westerly direction was pretty steep, so I traversed north in more of a switchback manner to gain elevation. This route eventually brought me to the base of a large stone wall. This was not a wall constructed for beauty; it was hundreds of large boulders held in place by a form of wire mesh. The purpose was clearly erosion control.

I traversed the bottom of the boulder wall, and I climbed the hill on the other side, where trees and vegetation provided handholds to assist the steep climb. The top of the stone wall was lined with a long chain-link fence, and I headed for the right end. Once the top was reached, I maneuvered around to the other side of the fence, and I followed my nose. I summited standing on the ground above the fence and wall. Facing this side of the fence was a large sign that read “WARNING – STEEP DROP OFF AHEAD”. Seeing nowhere higher, I claimed this as the summit.

I found some trails that headed down to the N and NW. I decided to bushwhack down the S side of the hill rather than reencountering the wall. This descent was much easier than the climb.

In retrospect, I believe the best route up the hill would be from the N or NW paths that I just mentioned. I am guessing that there are some trails from the state park or from the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that passes to the W and to the N of the summit. In any case, the R/T I followed was only about ½ mile, so it is no big deal if you do the same.
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