Tuesday, June 14, 2016

West Cottonwood Peak

West Cottonwood Peak was steep with lots of brush.

Ascent date: June 12, 2016.

Partners: Dog.

Stats: Class 2, no official trail. 3,100ft gain to summit elevation 6,336. 6.6 miles and 6 hours round trip.

Gear notes: N/A.

West Cottonwood Peak.

The Cottonwood Peaks are accessed off the middle fork road, about 20 miles from the turn off at the high bridge. I was looking for something local that I hadn't done yet and these peaks came to mind. Super Dave's trip report was my original inspiration and this caught my attention when I noticed there would be lots and miles and gain. There are two ridges that can be used to get to West Cottonwood and I decided on the eastern most ridge as it looked to be a shorter and more direct approach to try and nab both peaks.

Lambing Creek drainage. I used the hill on the right.

Looking down the ridge.

I hopped on the steep hillside and started up, gaining 1,000 feet in the first mile. It was at about that point that I hit the first obstacle; a thick grove of young trees. My instincts told me to stay on the ridge but the trees were thick enough that I would have had to basically claw my way through. Luckily I found a game trail to the west that got me past it. 

The grove.

Past the grove, the slopes opened up again and the route looked obvious; just stay on the ridge.
There was a small section of brush that I waded through, just to get though it. After that there was more brush. Lots and lots of brush with no apparent way though. The worst of it started about 4,800 feet and it took me a while to find a way past it. There was a secret passage of game trails on the west side of the ridge that did eventually get me past it, but it required loosing elevation, steep side hilling and hopping over several downed trees.

At about 5,200 I was able to regain the ridge and actually enjoy the views and hiking.

Looking back on the main ridge after hiking the secret passage.

Cool rock formation.

Upper slopes.

The day was heating up and it had taken longer than I anticipated to cover what little ground I had up until this point. I reached the top of West Cottonwood about 1:15pm.

Mount Heinen.

Looking south.

Looking north to East Cottonwood.

The ridge to East Cottonwood didn't look promising. It would have been about a 7 mile round trip and there looked to be plenty more brush. Even if I had time for it, I probably wouldn't have done it.

Dog and I on top.

After a short break on top I figured I might as well start down.

Looking down the ridge.

Lots of brush.

I was able to navigate down the ridge and around the brush for the most part. There was still that one last section of dense brush that I shimmied though because it looked to be way shorter then going around. Then it was back down the steep slopes in the heat of the day. It was a good training session, but a forgettable hike.

Happy trails!

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