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One last trip up Granite before the snows come
posted by John : November 12, 2017


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moosefish photo

Is this the most photographed spot on Granite Mountain?


Granite Mountain is one of those places that's close enough and short enough to be hikeable in a couple of hours in the early morning while still being hard enough and scenic enough to justify return trips. Contrast this with Mailbox Peak and you'll see why I tended to hike Granite more than Mailbox this year.

The problem with Granite is it's a deadly mountain in avalanche season. Almost every year someone is caught and dies on its steep slopes. That's not going to be me so when the heavy snows come it gets crossed off the list. This trip in early November would be the last for the year.

It was dark to start, then cold and wet, then just cold. The good snow started just below the waterfall where I stopped to put on crampons. The next stop was at what is apparently a very scenic spot. I only say that because many of my trips have had a picture from roughly the same spot. (It's the first picture in this post.)

Higher, I would have preferred to drop into the basin, but a pair of climbers just ahead of me were breaking trail up the winter route and I'm smart enough not to posthole on purpose. Except they stopped short of the summit. Now it was just me and Treen. The snow wasn't so deep it was difficult to walk in. The problem was quite the opposite.

There wasn't enough snow to have filled in the gaps in the talus on the ridge so there were man- and dog-sized holes just waiting to ingest us. I've done that once and not wanting to repeat the experience I paid extra attention to foot placement. Treen was none-too-happy. She doesn't like rocks to begin with and had the ability to sense the voids beneath the snow. Not that she told me where they were, but she knew and had to be "helped" through some sections when she couldn't figure it out on her own.

The summit was an icy wonderland of rime and cold. Beautiful, but we did not stay long. Thankfully, a set of old tracks headed down the summer route so we followed along that way. Once out of the wind it was peaceful and serene. The last big effort was breaking trail out of the basin and back to the trail we'd come in on. Thigh deep mashed potatoes were not fun.

When we got back to the house Treen claimed the spot right in front of the fire and quickly fell asleep. I had chores to do so it was easily an hour before I was battling with her for position. And who won? Duh. The queen of the house came home and we both quickly retreated from her domain.

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