Ascent of West Devil Head Peak on 2017-09-30

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 30, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:West Devil Head Peak
    Elevation:9720 ft / 2962 m

Ascent Trip Report

After climbing Devil's Head and the fire tower, I became interested in scrambling some granite and getting on top of something nearby without having to be with hundreds of people. Devil's Head is a very popular hike with many dogs. So I followed the grassy saddle between Devil's Head and the large wall of rock on the other side of the saddle. The wall next to the grassy saddle is all class 5 so I headed down the saddle to the south and found some better looking scrambling rock. I found a group doing some class 5 rock climbing with ropes nearby. Every route i tried I kept getting over my ability to scramble (class 4 to lower 5). I then found an interesting eroded valley behind the main wall you see from the fire tower. I followed up some crack seams that were fun class 3 with exposure consequences and finally hit a crack seam I could not longer get up safely.

I tired no less than 5 routes then abandoned the idea of scrambling up the wall and headed back to the main grassy saddle. Then I noticed over by the bathrooms outhouses that at the highest point in the saddle there is an easy eroded wall of only about 50 feet to climb to reach the top of the West Devil Head Peak. After getting totally out classed trying to find a route up the eastern wall there is an easy class 2+ to class 3 route up the northern wall right behind the bathrooms. Once at the top of the formation there is numerous pinnacles. After a few trial and error routes, I found the highest pinnacle which was estimated to be slightly taller than 50 feet above the saddle. The views of the tower and stairs up the tower is well photographed from the table top.

Then on the way down I deviated and took the trail to the Observation point which gave up a lot of vertical., Disappointed that the observation point trail had no peak, I explored some interesting crevice cracks and on the way back attempted to scramble the ridge to the north, but kept finding routes that ended in moves that were class 4 or moves that were 3+ that would have been fine with good soles or approach shoes but these dang Solomon Boot soles are horrible and do not stick to rock well. Making it back to the main saddle where the two trail come together, I bushwhacked down the valley and attempted to top out on each of the large rock pinnacles. Some I could get to the top on but most, I was stopped by advanced terrain. The route finding in these large granite boulders is very challenging and interesting. At one point coming back from an unsuccessful route up one of the pinnacles I stumbled onto one of the most interesting "mushroom shaped balanced rocks" that I have ever seen. I am shocked this feature is NOT part of the trail system for people to see.

Another discouraging thing is when you do finally find a route up one of these interesting scrambles you look down the backside and find a connecting saddle that you did not see when you started and many of these 60 to 150 foot climbs end up having only 20 to 50 feet of prominence one you find the peak. I found on such fun scramble that was right next to the trail and it took about 15 minutes and to find a safe route up and was nearly 100 feet above the trail but then I found the connecting saddle and there was no more than 30 feet of separation. But it is a playground of rock along this trail
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:990 ft / 300 m
    Total Elevation Loss:940 ft / 285 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.7 mi / 4.3 km
    Grade/Class:2+, 3, 3+
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:410 ft / 124 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 50 ft / 15 m; Extra: 360 ft / 109m
    Loss on way in:360 ft / 109 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.3 km
    Route:See TR
    Start Trailhead:saddle between peaks  9670 ft / 2947 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:580 ft / 176 m
    Gain on way out:580 ft / 176 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:see TR
    End Trailhead:saddle between peaks  

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