Monday, February 8, 2016

Shaw Mountain aka Lucky Peak 2-7-2016

Partners: N/A.

Stats: Class 1. 10.8 miles round trip. Total time 4hrs 51min. Elevation gain approx 2,900ft to summit elevation 5,908ft.  

Route: Highland Valley from Hwy 21. Note - this had been known to be closed to all uses during the winter months, however, per the Ridge to Rivers map and website, it is only closed to motorized use. Avoid this route after the road opens. I prefer the Homestead trail route from Council Springs. It's a little more pedestrian friendly, has higher mileage and has more elevation gain, however the soil at the base of the trail has a high amount of clay and remains far too muddy to use well into spring and after precipitation events. This peak is best done in the spring, before the roads open to motorized use. 

Gear notes: Snow shoes.

A nice start to the day.

I refer to this peak as Lucky Peak, but some people get confused and think I mean Luck Peak the lake. When I say Shaw Mountain, some people have no clue what I mean. I'm sure that you, my mountain friends, or one of the three people who read this, will know right away what I mean if I say either, so I don't feel the need to explain it further.

Lucky Peak is a monster hike with lots of mileage and gain. Even if one doesn't reach the summit, it's a great training hike to prep for the big peaks. Prior to this hike, I've made the top four times. Around Christmas time, I went up the Homestead trail route twice when the mud was frozen. Both times my intention was simply to push the route as high as I could, with the second ending just below the base of the southwest ridge of the peak. The snow was really deep and sugary, so I felt that I had reached my suffer limit for the day. 

I've never been up the Highland Valley route, so instead of another hike up Cervidae and lack of planning another peak, I opted for this.

The summit is visible.

The road sits right off highway 21 where I parked just below the gate. The road is pretty level to start off, but that changes in about 2 miles.

Where the smart people turned around.

I'd like to give a shout out to the lobe finned fishes, Oreopithecus and all the other hominids that made this possible. 

As I plodded along just like our first primitive bipedal ancestors had began to do more than 2 million years ago, I encountered several mountain bikers and a few other pedestrians. I chatted with a few of them and none had said they went much higher than the snowline. 

Snow covered road.

After about 3 miles, the last of the human tracks in the snow stopped. Since my plan only involved pushing the route as far as it would go I continued forward with my snow shoes on.

Breaking trail.

There were plenty of drifts to break through along the road as I crested hill after hill.

Looking back.

I kept thinking well, I'll get to the top of that one and see what it looks like from there...

Corniced drift.

I knew I was getting close to the radio towers that more or less mark the summit, but I was also getting close to my turn around time.

Looking up.

I planned to push on to the trees, if I could, and take a break in the shade. With the glaring sun and the high albedo effect of the snow, it felt like it was about 117 degrees. Shade sure sounded nice. 

Looking toward the summit.

When I got to the top of the hill near the trees, I found tracks leading to the summit about a quarter of a mile away, so I figured why not go for it.


The snow was getting pretty soft so I wanted to tag the top and get down before the misery that is postholing really began, even though it already had.

Radio towers on the summit.

I passed the gate and followed the tracks to the top.

Yay, I made it to the top.

The glaring sun meant lots of sweating off sunscreen and there was no shade to be had while I enjoyed the views from the top.

Lets try that again.

Looking east.

A couple of skiers showed up for their second lap on the north side from Rocky Canyon.

Looking at the southwest ridge route from the top.
I didn't hang out too long since I figured the descent might be pretty miserable, err, fun, I mean fun, so I just did that.

East from the top.

Looking east.

Just below where my tracks met the others, I ran into a group of 3 coming up in my tracks. We talked for a few, and they thanked my for breaking trail. Hey, at least it didn't go to waste!

Upper mountain.

It looked like they topped out, so congratulation to them. This is a tough hike when it's dry, now its even more so with soft snow.

Kodiak Peak.

My only break on the way down was to take off the snowshoes, then I ran most of the dry section back to the car. I encountered a few more people on their way up the trail. A pretty busy day, but a fine one at that. 

As of late, there is a snowshoe track all the way to the top, so get on it. Don't forget your sunscreen.

Happy trails! Granola, out.

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