Ascent of Mount Glennon on 2017-03-01

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Glennon
    Elevation:6473 ft / 1972 m

Ascent Trip Report

I wanted one more quick hike before flying back and saw this on my peakbagger ap but did not have the ability to read any TRs or go to summit post. I wish I had! This is actually a nice hike with great views and some rugged peak tops with scrambling and only about 660 to 700 feet of gain but I give this report as a warning to those that just bust up it thinking it is an easy, well marked trail.

I ended up following the wrong trails and got off onto unmaintained use trails that got me completely away from the intended trail up the peak and I had a tough route of bushwhacking and scrambling with some minor exposure to get to the peak. The county recreational department intended trail is clearly marked and well defined at the small parking lot off Soda Lakes Drive. It even has some nice steps to get you going. You look up and can not see that the top is an alligator's back of spiny ledges and exposed rock. It looks like it is going to be an easy class 1 to hilly grassy top. Wrong. I later read this summit post TR "As you drive along US 470, you look directly up Mount Glennon and see that its slope appears to be around a class 1. Don't be fooled, the mountain contains very dangerous terrain and if you plan on reaching the summit, you must be prepared to climb across some class 2+ pitches." The author nailed it. What one of these sites needs is a nice GPS track to show where the actual trail is because it was not obvious on the aerial, nor the USGS topo, and I obviously did not follow the right one in the field either.

So after climbing the stairs and following the easy to follow trail up and over the after feature the trail splits. I had a preconceived notion that the trail had to climb the east face or at least the east side of the ridge and the other split looked like it might be heading to the west side of the mountain. So I stayed left. Then you see the big slab face of some chalky white rock. Their are steep loose use trails around the left side of it that I avoided but took what appeared to be a well used trail around to the spine of the ridge. I later read that this mountain is one of chain of mountains where the geology forms a series of hogback ridges. My trail was just now climbing up on the easier northern spine of that hogback. But the trail once again bifurcated. There was no sign or places where the county placed stones to block off one trail or the other (like you have all over the nearby Mount Morrison hike)so I went with intuition thinking that the trail would want to follow the eastern side of the hogback. My new trail never connected with the other split again.

Soon I was into some steep slabs of class 2 and 3 rock but they were safe and fun so I kept going. Occasionally I found some footprints in the snow so I was not alone in my route so far but the trail was not maintained and was not looking correct. Eventually I found a rock wall that I thought must have been a trail feature but it turned out to be a random wind break with no trail connecting to it? I found a few more use trails about half way up and then lost them too. So I figured the slabs were safe and it will not hurt the vegetation if I stay on rock so I ran up slabs with the notion that I would re-find the actual trail on this side of the mountain. This was mostly a class 2+ scamper but I did run into a few class 3 routes as well.

When I reached the top of the hogback I was not at the summit and the ridgeline was a series of large and steep irregular slabs. Very fun to scramble along and it was class 2, 2+ and 3. But the hogback ridge kept going up and down and was taking time so I looked over the western edge for some sort of sign of a trail down there but saw nothing over the cliff edge. So running out of time to complete and get back to the airport I downclimbed the east slopes some trying to reclaim that ever-elusive trail and never found it. I ended up in a tangled mess of spiny shrubs that cut my arms and ankle twisting rubble. This was no place to get hurt off trail and mess my ankle up so I re-climbed up to the spine where the slabs were at least predictable (not covered in snow and spiny shrubs).

I think the correct trail keeps you below the hogspine ridge and circles around the mountain and then up to the peak through some pass in the wall of stone slabs but I was hiking along the top of the entire spine. There were no footprints in the dirt of snow so now I was sure I was where I was not supposed to be. It was a fun area but not a real smart place to be when you are alone, off trail, and pressed for time with a plane to catch. I eventually found a trail on the west side of the mountain that follows the ridge about 60 feet below the cliff edge. This is an exposed fall along the scramble here but it is safe as long as you stay on the east side of the slabs. I found a few places where the cliff band was breached and I could possibly scramble down to the trail but was concerned that I could not confirm that it was only class 3 without committing to a down climb and I did not want to risk that by myself. Class 4/5 always seems easier going up than down.

Collecting the summit by way of the entire spine is a harsh route. I found trails and footprints at the summit but worried now that a more circuitous and easy path back would be safer but more time consuming and I had a flight to catch. My phone ap indicated that the USGS map looked like the trail that I should have taken might be twice as long in length. Not sure, and worried about time, I elected to retrace my steps along the hogback ridge and then bushwhacked carefully down to an area where I could see my car and used more unmaintained use trails to get back. These use trails skirted around the big slab you see from the parking and were very loose and steep and not a desirable way up or down (causes erosion) but I had no choice at the point. The parking lot now had 5 cars where I was alone earlier. I only passed one person all day and he was a kid that had no idea what he was doing and he stumbled up the same beginning path that I did. He turned around once he got above the big slab about 1/3 the way up. The rest of the hikers must have followed the correct trail and I never saw them.

I want to try this hike again. But I need to research the route. A GPS route would be great. Sacha Bobst shows the only GPS route to date in peakbagger but it looks suspiciously similar to the one I did and considering that all footprints disappeared on my route, I'm confident my route was not what the county wants people to use. If Sacha's route is correct, then I must have ran parallel to it and never stumbled onto it. That seems unlikely but who knows?

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:883 ft / 269 m
    Total Elevation Loss:793 ft / 240 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.6 mi / 2.6 km
    Grade/Class:1,2, 2+,3
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
started at 29F ended at 35F
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:873 ft / 266 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 693 ft / 211 m; Extra: 180 ft / 54m
    Loss on way in:180 ft / 54 m
    Distance:0.9 mi / 1.4 km
    Route:Defined trail to herd trail to oooops
    Start Trailhead:parking lot for TH  5780 ft / 1761 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:613 ft / 186 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 603 ft / 183 m; Extra: 10 ft / 3m
    Gain on way out:10 ft / 3 m
    Distance:0.7 mi / 1.1 km
    Route:undo the oops bushwack and use trails
    End Trailhead:same  5870 ft / 1789 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Denver-2

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Morrison2017-03-01 a2101 ft / 640 m
2Morrison Point2017-03-01 b56 ft / 17 m
3Mount Glennon2017-03-01 c883 ft / 269 m
Total Trip Gain: 3040 ft / 926 m    Total Trip Loss: 2950 ft / 900 m

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