Rubies Day 7
9 September 2011
Snow Lake was supposed to be the most difficult of peaks we were trying to tackle. The official rating goes as class 4, which in my opinion can vary from “that was pretty easy” to “no way I’m doing that”. After a good night of rest, we drove to Roads End early in the morning. We did start pretty early, because it was 5.30 when we started aiming directly to snow lake peak, moving directly west.
I found it funny that there was a nice trail going to liberty pass and we were instead walking that brushy hill; there was only one person in the parking lot when we started and he must have thought we were not totally balanced.
After getting to a plateau, we headed north to keep the ascent a little easier. This proved to be a pretty good route and the rock was fairly good quality. From there, we had a good glance at our first objective: what a good looking peak that was! That mountain reminded me the scrambles we do in Sierra Nevada and I was looking forward to the challenge.
We started aiming at the notch just south of Snow Lake Peak and we reached it at around 7am. We were to approach Snow Lake from the north-west and we managed to stay pretty high (i.e. we got east of the notch just west of the peak).
At that point, there was not much we knew. Bob Burd had done that mountain (ironically) just few weeks before, but there was no trip report available yet, so we were on our own (I later discovered there was a summitpost page…).
We found a pretty decent ramp on our right that brought to a keyhole. The ascent was probably tough class 3 at that point, but nothing too bad (we both did it in trail runners).
Atop the ridge, we went through the keyhole and walked around the peak; the last hundred feet or so were the hard part and – in our usual style – we made it a lot more difficult than it needed be.
We were uncertain whether to face climb or take a nice gully… so gully it was. We later discovered that the face climb was much easier, whereas the gully ended up at some tough rocks to bypass. Ephrat was in front of me and she bypassed a giant boulder by means of some class 5. When she got on top, she said “and now?” and I started worrying that way was a no-go.
But I followed her steps and got to a very exposed ridge; I looked left and saw a narrow and exposed ledge that eventually led to the summit. Phew! That was definitely spicy.
We signed the register and decided to continue without stopping too much; it was around 8am when we down-climbed the face of Snow Lake Peak, which proved to be much easier than our way up. Finding the correct route, the summit is easy class 4, but any sub-optimal decision makes it considerably more difficult.
The rock was a lot better than we expected, but on the way down there were some rock falls and I sometimes had to wait for Ephrat to move away from my fault line.
Soon we were back at the base of the climb and ready to attack Full House Peak. That mountain… is just a bump on the ridge and the climbing is eventless to be frank. Probably only a peak-bagger would summit Full House (which was un-named on the Garmin topographic maps).
On the summit register we found a funny article “are you a peak-bagger?” By all definitions, I think both I and Ephrat qualify…
Last peak of the day was Mount Thomas. We had to lose some elevation because the ridge between Full House and Thomas is really rugged, but – accepting the few hundred extra feet of elevation gain – the climb proved to be trivial.
Mount Thomas has several peaks and we found not less than 2 registers. The first peak we headed to was the south peak and we discovered that not to be the true summit; the true summit is few hundred yards north. There, we found the USGS benchmark as well as an older register. We also walked to ridge to the smaller northernmost peak and that gave us a spectacular view of Lamoille Canyon.
As almost every day, weather was coming in. Grey clouds threatened us every single day, but we always got away with it. We quickly back-tracked our way to the beginning of the climb and headed to island lake.
Island lake is a very pretty alpine lake with a small island in the middle and must be one of the most photographed lakes in the Rubys. On our way there weather got better and we even found families walking up the trail.
How nice was to walk on a trail again! The distance to cover was not long and we were back at the car at 12.21pm, making this outing one of the shortest, below 7 hours.
Stats for the day: 7.3 miles, 6h47, 5100 feet elevation gain.
There are not that many things to do in Lemoille during the afternoon… we went to one of the 2 bars in Lemoille and had a drink, then headed back to the campsite and spent a great deal of time just napping and resting. Given the extra time, Ephrat had the opportunity to cook something particularly good that night…