Mount Morrison

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Dodging storms, we give Mt. Morrison a go.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Sean and I picked a date and a time, 4:30. It was the first stormy day (30% POP) in about two full weeks of sunshine, but that's what you have to do to get out with hectic lives. On the long drive to Mackay, we went over all that minutae, but I won't bore you with it here.

As we drove north along the range, we were rubbernecking pretty hard. After more discsussion and a change of plans due to the weather, this is the route we chose. WE left the highway on a dirt road just north of Whiskey Springs, then followed a spur about 400 yards up to the powerline road. Note the general lock of snow. We were on our feet at 8:45.

Our objective: Mt. Morrison, named after the lead singer of The Doors.

Morning
We climbed a little over 1000 feet before we really had to deal with the snow. There was a temporary try at snowshoeing right up the gully, but alas, the snow was too soft and the gully was full of holes. So we did what the Lost Rivers do best- sidehilling loose talus. Shortcut

When that ran out, we were once again on snowshoes. It wasn't long before we were faced with what looked like a dead-end alley.

But Sean kicked some awesome steps up and over, so we got over that one. There were a couple more of these...perhaps waterfalls in the spring? One required a short bit of Class !V snowshoeing.

Shortcut
By a little after noon, we had put 3500' under our belts. But we were running out of steam. The snow was difficult, with holes, soft spots, crust, you name it. And it had become too steep for snowshoes, so we were on crampons. Skinning
This is looking back from where we had come. Skinning
Then it got steeper yet. With more rocks underneath. We resorted to "taking pulls" of 30 steps at the front, then switch. Skinning

It was with some relief that we finally neared the summit ridge. This is looking back down the route.

Skinning

And this is looking down the other side. I was a little disoriented at first, then I recognized the route we had taken on Mt. Idaho a few years back on an IdahoSummits group outing.

We were in a saddle looking down into Cedar Creek. From the saddle, we could tell that one of our close-by points was the actual summit. But they both looked promising. Which one?

 

Skinning

I was too tired to talk about it much, so while Sean got out the GPS to check, I took my best guess. Luckily, I was right and did not have to do both ends of the ridge.

It was blowing pretty hard on top, and the clouds were blocking the views. For a few moments they lifted enough for us to identify Mount Idaho, Peak 11967, and the lower slopes of Sacagawea. This is shot from the summit, looking generally towards Peak 11308.

Skinning

It was cold and windy on top. Time to head down.

Going down was tricky. There was soft snow on a bit of a crust that was slippery. Sometimes the crust would break and drop you in to your knees. Other times, you only went in a bit because your crampons hit rock. And we were tired enough that all that made us bumble and stumble a bit. And going back over all the different terrain changes again necessitated a lot of gear changes.

The slog through the mahogany seemed interminable. It was snowing lightly as we did the final gear change into dry clothes and pulled out of our parking spot, rocking to the Doors.

This was a tough climb: 5000' of gain, out-of-shape February, and challenging snow conditions. But you know what? We had a great time. And I'm probably going to be feeling all of that tomorrow.

Skinning

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