November 1, 2011

Charleston Peak via airplane gully 10-18-2011

This is a second post on Charleston Peak from 10-25-2011 via South and North Loop hike. The airplane gully is a shorter route to the peak but requires class 3 and 4 climbing. It is NOT a trail hike. I wanted to post some pictures that highlight this particular route and how they are different from the South and North loop hike. Although we were forced to turn back around near the peak due to the snow and ice, it still took us about 7 hours altogether. It was only because we kept going in shallow snow before turning around, which slowed us way down. 
family of deer passed by us
He is pointing the peak on the left

This route starts from MaryJane Falls trail head. Then it folks off to the left for the Big Fall, to the right for the MaryJane Falls. We take the left. This hike is to go through the rocks and boulders, going along side the wash. There were lots of debris of tree and branches. It seemed like it rained hard recently.
This is snow that has turned into permanent ice. This area never see the sun so it does not melt.
Hop, step, jump. Just following the wash for about 2 hours we get to the Big Fall. Normally there is a water fall but today we didn't see any.

After the Big Fall, we started climbing like this. These are sharp rocks, climbing up using upper body strength.

Ok. Climbed up the rocks. This is what we see in front of our eyes. And this is what we have to go up.
Now we crossed over a field from one mountain to the other, passing through another hill/small mountain. There is really no marked trail on this route so our good judgement of direction is required. In this case, my husband is an excellent navigator. He has done this route once and remembers really well. At some parts, we are going up steeply in the middle of branches and fallen trees.
On top of this particular hill we took a break. It looks like camping site for people who pass through. Camp site has been set up on flatter ground and camp fire pits have been built.
Ok. Break time is over. We went down the hill and back on another hill. One side has snow, the other side has none. Do you see the contrast!? Where sun shines and where sun doesn't shine.
We kept moving, going into the mountain side below the Charelston Peak. But the side we had to go up to was where Sun doesn't shine. Lots of snow was still there and it gave us hard time proceeding/ ascending. Snow has turned into ice and it was really slippery. On top of it, because it was mountain side, our footing was unstable.
I stopped at one spot. He proceeded a little further just to see if it was climbable. NO. After the point where he stands, it is a long steep scree with big loose rock. When he hiked last time where there was no snow, the scree rock was so loose that every 2 steps made one. No way to be on it where snow covers the scree and who know the snow has turned into ice there as well. It was our turning around point. We don't take risk if there is even a slight doubt. Bummed but we were satisfied with the decision to turn back at this point.
We are determined to come back this route next summer where there is absolutely NO snow!!!

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