Handwerk Peak West 2010

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We sneak in a snowy climb ahead of an incoming storm.

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With a foreboding weather forecast, we decided to head into the Pioneers. Plan A required dry rock, so when the snow began to fly before we arrived at the trailhead, we were already on Plan B. The West summit of Handwerk is Class 2, so a little snow was not a problem.

We left the car right at 8am. It was right around freezing. But not a bad day, really. At this point it was still cold enough that brushing the brush didn't do anything.

Early trail

We quickly gained the toe of the ridge and started up the snow-covered sand dune. The ground here is quite soft, but perhaps the light snow was holding the sand together? It really didn't seem that bad. Especially when Sean was breaking trail.

Fresh snow

When we got to the top of the ridge, the views were incredible.

 

Ridge

Slogging along in the fog, I glanced at my altimeter and realized we were at the summit.

Careful! I read that there is a cliff around here. You certainly couldn't tell by looking unless you were within a few feet of it. The top hundred feet or so is covered by plates of rock, sort of like shale, that appeared to be slippery with its thin covering of snow. Neither of us fell down, but moving around on the summit with the nearby abyss (denoted by a large white space) required some care.

We pawed around in the snow for a few minutes looking for a summit register. We didn't find one, but that doesn't prove anything.

Summit

Our hands were getting cold from digging in the snow (doh!), so it was time to get moving. We carefully navigated down the snow-covered slate/talus, and then once back on the foot-friendly sand dune, we plunged back down. About half way, we noticed that a goat had been walking in our tracks. We made a feeble attempt to see a white animal on a white background with a white sky, then finished our descent. As with much of the day, the cloud/fog was moving up and down so that when we got to the sagebrush, we could see part way back up the route.

Back in the valley

As we hiked back down the valley, the clouds lifted a bit more, affording us great views of fall colors. It was noticeably warmer down in the valley, so we stopped and had a short, stand-up lunch. Thanks to the increasing temperature, as we got near the trailhead the 'snow' was making noise when it landed on the goretex. And the brush was now quite wet, and I could feel the water soaking down my pant legs into my socks. Oh well, only a mile to the car.

Despite being wet, we had a great day breathing hard and solving the world's problems.

Fall color
And in case you were wondering just what the heck we were climbing, here is a picture taken on an even sunnier day. The west summit, the one we climbed, is on the left. That right summit, wherever it was, will have to wait for a better day. Handwerk

Mr. Natural Home | 2010 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski