White Knobs loop


The White Knob mountains lie between Mackay and the Pioneers. From the summit of these peaks, one looks right at the Lost River range, a stunning view to be sure.

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White Knob panorama

Panorama of the peaks, taken on a later trip.

We got up early at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Mackay, and were out the door at 6am sharp. Then came the drive up Alder Creek in the dark. What began as a pretty fair dirt road became aggressive 4-wheeling for the last 2 miles before we finally stopped at about 8200'.

We left the car at 7am with headlamps on and walked briskly through the forested woods up an ATV track. About the time the sun came up, we found the turn up an old mine road, shown here.

The previous picture didn't really do justice to how steep the mine road is. So this picture, from later in the day, is useful. The diagonal slash trending up to the left is the same mine road.

As you can see, the mine road takes one up to a ridge, and then you start up the ridge to the right, soon reaching timberline.

From the ridge, you traverse a small basin and start up the ridge of Redbird Mountain. High on this ridge Dylan saw his first mountain goat.

There are goat trails traversing the face to the left of the ridge, which might save a lot of climbing, but this day there was snow on it, and perhaps the steepest scree field I've ever seen looked distinctly uninviting. As Art said, "I didn't know they could stack gravel this high." So we trudged up to within a few hundred feet of Redbird before dropping down to the saddle on the left.

But a few more words about the ridge are needed here. Notice how the ridge itself doesn't have much snow? That's largely due to the raging winds we encountered here. You may get a sense of Dylan being blown around as he climbed... but you can't tell how COLD it was.

But as we neared the crest of the ridge, the winds eased off and the sun came out. We dropped down to the saddle and then climbed this ridge of Shelley Mountain. It was calm and sunny...

However, we could see weather moving in from the direction we planned on heading. We rushed back down to the saddle and headed back up the Redbird Ridge, racing the clouds. In the lower left of the picture you can also see where we hoped to go. As we topped Redbird, we got a brief glimpse of where we were going before the clouds moved in.

We were able to find our descent off Redbird, but from the joining saddle we could no longer see Lime. However, we could see some rocky gendarmes on the ridge. Was this going to get spicy?

Note the two figures low on the left of the rock pile. We found it useful to hide from the wind in this manner.

As we topped out Lime, the clouds parted slightly giving us a glimpse back at our route off of Redbird.

And in the opposite direction we could now see the ridge heading over to Cabin, but before I could get ready for the picture, the camera batteries froze up again. This happened a lot through the day- I had to put the batteries in my pocket to keep them warm, but it took so long to get everything put back together that I missed many shots, like the goat, or the ridge up Cabin Mountain- we were a little taken aback by this view.

I finally got a picture of Cabin's summit tower. What this doesn't show is the *other* summit tower immediately behind the camera. We couldn't see either of them all that well, except to tell that rock climbing in the snow didn't look very safe. So to keep the climbing to a minimum, we debated for a while about which tower was taller.

Art won the debate and made a great call, finding a relatively safe and easy route up the snow patch on the right. When we got on top, we had to sit in the wind for some time waiting for the clouds to part enough for us to determine that we were indeed on the actual summit. I wasn't going to let him win *that* easily. After several minutes of hallucinating, we finally got a clear view- we were higher by about 20 feet.

Another good thing was that the brief view was enough for us to find an easy escape off the ridge when it was time to head for the car. We carefully back-tracked off the tower, traversed the ridge, and found our descent gully.

Then we got off the ridge, and here's the view of the route back. The ridge on the right of the pass is part of Lime Mountain. We had to hike down to the frozen lake in the bottom of this basin, then up over the "low" pass (it's close to 10,000').

From there, we simply walked back down the ATV track to the car, a little over 3 miles. Except that I refused to relax until we had driven back down those 2 miles of the previously-described heinous road.

This was an awesome trip, made the more so by the snow, the weather, and the companions. When we finally got back onto some decent roadbed, we were all pretty tired, but elated.

Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski