On Sunday Eric Parsons, Dan Boccia, Yvonne & I climbed the Southwest Ridge Granite Peak (6729'). We left town at 7:30 am and by 8:30 were driving in circles in the maze of 4WD trails that are at the base of Granite. Dan's excellent driving technique through mud, over rocks and across ditches had Eric howling in delight and Yvonne biting her nails. Finally after close to an hour of driving up and down trails we found a good trailhead parked and started hiking up at 9:30 am.
Getting to the base was easy and quick - and 1 1/2 hours after starting we were at the base of the route and hiking up the massive couloir that drains the south face. We meandered up the couloir - taking a couple wrong turns before finally finding the correct one which took us all the way to a very steep final ridge that lead to the summit ridge. Once reaching the SW ridge we stuck to the left (NW) side of the ridge; Eric tentatively plowed through waist deep snow (in sneakers sans rope) while Yvonne & I roped up with 30 m of rope and protected the pitches with a handful of rock gear (4 nuts, 2 cams).
At the top of the first gendarme we set a belay and belayed everyone down - the only spot Eric and Dan roped up. I down-climbed the rock pitch while once again Eric plowed through deep sketchy steep snow up and over 2 more gendarmes. The put us on the final summit ridge where we cached the rope and hiked to the summit.
On the summit ridge we were treated to an incredible show by a pilot in a glider who was catching thermals off the pass between Granite and Eska. He went around and around and as we were hiking to the summit he was level with our head!
We reached the top at 5:30, snapped a couple photos, looked at the clouds apprehensively and then headed down. The down climb was mostly uneventful (expect for a giant rock that tried to chop Eric's leg off). We were back at the base of the route by 9:30 and back at the car by 10:30.
If you're thinking of trying this peak I would suggest waiting till July -- the snow up high is pretty crummy right now. Wait for it to dry off and you'll be able to scamper up the final pitches without any trouble. Likewise I took a GPS reading at the trailhead where we parked. This reading is pretty key as one of the hardest parts of this climb was finding the trailhead.
The GPS coordinates are: N 61 45.090 - W 148.54.472. Basically you drive up Jonesville Mine Road; about 1 mile after it becomes gravel the road splits; take the uphill (left) road. Stay on the main road (it forks many times) till you reach these coordinates. Once you reach the trailhead follow the 4WD trail that heads towards the peak; aiming for the trail leading to Eska Falls.
Photo by Eric Parsons
Be warned - this is redneckville and if you leave anything in your car your windows will be smashed.
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