Ascent of Kelly Mountain-Northwest Summit on 2009-02-03

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Ski Lift
Peak:Kelly Mountain-Northwest Summit
    Elevation:6664 ft / 2031 m

Ascent Trip Report

I drove to the parking lot of the Kelly Canyon Ski Area, on a good paved road. This area is pretty small and has sporadic hours—it is often closed on Mondays and opens in the afternoon other midweek days. They do not have a single-ride ticket, and my pleading to the ticket office manager did not work, so I had to pay $27.00 for a half-day ticket. I then rode the “Summit” chairlift up to 6620’, saving me an uphill hike of about 800’. I did not realize it at the time, but the “Powder” chairlift would have been a better bet, but that was moot, since that chair was closed this day.

From the top of the Summit chairlift I was atop a broad ridge, and I could see the parallel ridge to the southwest that held the high point. In between was a deep ravine. So I chose a route that skirted the head of the ravine in an attempt to minimize three variables: vertical loss, distance, and bushwhacking. The snow was deep and heavy, but the terrain mostly flat, with avalanche danger nil.

I first followed ski trails very slightly uphill to near the top of the closed Powder chairlift, and then I struck off into a mixture of fields and woods, following tracks of previous cross-country skiers when they seemed to lead in the right direction. I did have a couple stretches of not-fun bushwhacking on skis to deal with, and I lost about 100’ or so as I headed almost due south, cutting off the head of the ravine, and then I turned west to climb towards the high point. My GPS was very helpful in this kind of terrain.

I reached the vicinity of the 6664’ spot elevation on the USGS topo and tried to find the highest point. With deep snow blown up into big drifts, the traditional leveling done by highpointers on flat summit areas is not really possible. However, I did locate a large rock with a cairn on it, and it appeared to fit the location (SW corner of the SE contour) and description (“refrigerator sized”) from Bob Martin’s trip report at I could not find the pill bottle register, though.

I did continue to the NW contour and it did seem lower than the SE contour, but, again, all the snow made things hard to tell. After satisfying myself that I had skied over all possible high points, I returned, mainly following my outbound ski tracks down a bit into the head of the ravine and back up to the top of the Powder chairlift. From there it was a quick and easy ski run down to the ski area base lodge, the trails oddly deserted since the Powder chair was closed.

This would be a good snowshoe trip, due to good winter road access to the ski area. And there is no real need to spend the money on a lift ticket just to save 800’ feet of hiking, unless, like me, you have time constraints. Lots of local cross-country skiers unintentionally visit this highpoint in winter, based on the tracks I saw, and they probably ascend by gradually climbing up the summer routes mentioned in the other trip reports. My heavy alpine-touring ski gear was not really appropriate for this trip, excepting the final ski run downhill on the ski area trails.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:284 ft / 85 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1104 ft / 335 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:164 ft / 49 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 44 ft / 14 m; Extra: 120 ft / 36m
    Loss on way in:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:1.4 mi / 2.2 km
    Start Trailhead:Summit Chair, Kelly Canyon Ski Area  6620 ft / 2017 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:984 ft / 299 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 864 ft / 264 m; Extra: 120 ft / 36m
    Gain on way out:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    End Trailhead:Kelly Canyon Ski Area Parking  5800 ft / 1767 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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