Sunday, August 7, 2011

Peak #110 Grays Peak, Solo #2

Grays Peak from 9200ish feet.
I have kept this peak at the top of my list for a solo outing and this was the weekend to go after it.  From SummitPost, "Grays Peak is a large hulking summit that stands out from the main crest of the Pioneer Mountains like a soar thumb. Although not as high nor rugged as its Pioneer counterparts, Grays Peak is still an attractive cone-shaped peak that is especially beautiful in winter."

I had checked into Grays in 2009 after my first solo. The folks on the Idaho Summits board recommended it for its proximity to the road (I drive a Nissan...not an off-road friendly vehicle), straightforward approach, and at class II/III, depending on conditions, was within my abilities, especially as a solo.
"Hal" at the trail head.

I decided to take the west ridge approach both ways, thinking it was easiest but noted that it would be relatively easy to bushwhack down to the Federal Gulch trail should I need to get off of the ridge. I took my GPS, with an estimated approach route, and unlike my first solo, a hard copy topo and a trip report.

I left Friday afternoon to stay with friends in Hailey and left at 6:45 a.m. to reach the trail head for a reasonably early start. According to my beta, it would be 5 miles and 4500 feet.
Heading to the high point at 9200ish ft.

When I reached the summit in almost exactly 4 hours, I was pretty stoked and in a little disbelief. After all, I got wrapped around a couple rock outcrops at lower elevations that ate up some time and I took a number of micro-breaks (stop for a moment until your breathing stops racing) when I was climbing above timberline.
View from 9200 ft
So, my ascent time seemed a little good to be true, but overall I felt pretty good, so I guess it was possible.

While on the summit I noticed weather building to the west and heading my way. Nothing too immediate, but sure enough to get a move on. So after the requisite snack break, 360 photos, video and Splattski, I was off.

I made the decision because of the weather that staying on the ridge may not be a good idea. When I spotted the lower trail I bushwhacked a rib down toward it and followed the trail until it tied into the Federal Gulch trail.

Once on the lower trail, I took my time to "smell the roses" as it were, or in my case, photograph butterflies. Where the trail came near the stream it was flooded so I spent some time trail- and vegetation-clump hoping to stay dry. The vegetation is some sections was SOOO tall that I couldn't see the trail in front of me, or under my feet, so I proceeded by "feet feel." A few stream crossings later, I was back at the car and then the shower started...perfect timing.

Bushwacking to the Federal Gulch Trail.
It took me 6 hours for the entire trip, including breaks. According to my GPS, total elevation was 3760 ft, and 7 miles long. Even though it wasn't as much elevation as I expected, I moved along quite well considering. I saw NO ONE, I heard nothing other than the sounds of nature. I left no trace. Thank you Sawtooth National Forest, Ketchum Ranger District for the non-motorized wilderness experience and for accurate signage. Thank you IdahoSummits Board, as always, for your knowledge and encouragement and friendship. Thank you family and friends for your support.
You can't buy more nature...only preserve, protect and enjoy it!
On may way out I stopped by the Hyndman Trail head just to, you know, look at Cobb and other ideas.

My Route.

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