Mount Powell


Statistics

  • Date - 07/14/2013
  • Elevation - 13,580'
  • Route - South Slopes
  • Miles - 10.0
  • Elevation Gain - 4,500'
  • ACME Mapper - Link
  • CalTopo - Link
  • Partners - Kevin Smith

Description

This trip was a half-hearted attempt at the Ripsaw Ridge in the Gore Range.  Our expectations were pretty low given the forecast and the fact that significant clouds were already rolling in at 7:00.  We hiked past Piney Lake and beside Piney River on the approach to Peak C.  By the time we were two hours into the day, clouds were building and the Ripsaw likely wasn't going to happen.  It is a relatively challenging and long traverse with a fair amount of class 4 and low class 5 climbing.  We assumed a wet traverse would increase the difficulty quite a bit and decided to simply hike Mount Powell.  Mount Powell is the highest point in the Gore Range with a class 2 route that we figured wouldn't get us into too much trouble even if it rained.

Unfortunately, neither one of us was certain of the route and visibility dropped to a couple hundred feet by the time we reached Knee Knocker Pass.  We decided to start making our way up Mount Powell's south ridge, but immediately encountered class 3 climbing.  The route seemed more difficult than the brief description we were able to get out of Kevin's phone.  After a couple of hundred feet of scrambling and limited visibility, we decided to simply hang out on the ridge and see what the weather would do.  After ten minutes, there was a break and we were able to view Powell and most of the ridge we were attempting to climb.  We definitely weren't on the standard route, and the ridge had several steep steps that looked as difficult as anything we might encounter on the Ripsaw Ridge.  After a bit of contemplation, we retreated back to Knee Knocker Pass and spied the standard route.

An awkward down climb off the back of Knee Knocker Pass required us to drop a hundred or so feet before gaining a rubble-filled gully that would lead us to Mount Powell.  The gully looked deceivingly short and easy from the pass; however, it took longer than expected and was a bit of a grind.  We made it to the summit just in time for the graupel to start peppering us.  It didn't last long and after a quick break we were heading back down the gully.  We crossed back over the bottom of the basin, regained Knee Knocker Pass, and began our descent to Piney Lake.  We stopped at a rock to dry out some when the weather really hit us.  We put on our limited rain gear and got soaked on the way back to tree line.  The rain let up after 30 minutes, but we were pretty wet and the sun wasn't strong enough to dry us out.  We finished the hike back to the trailhead and had a beer before driving home.  With the poor weather and route finding issues, we didn't make great time but were able to salvage the day and summit Mount Powell as a consolation.

Photos

Ripsaw RidgePeak CKnee Knocker PassJamesKevinJamesPoor WeatherPeak CDescending the back side of Knee Knocker Pass.The gully up Mount Powell.ViewsViewsViewsViewsSummit PhotoKevin on the summit of Mount Powell.Scrambling back to Knee Knocker Pass.Scrambling back to Knee Knocker Pass.Kevin