Bald Mt. (5408', p782')
Dec 17, 2011
Magic on Bald Mt – or another year of December B-days celebrated in style
Weather: High clouds, a moment of drizzle, afternoon sun
Stefan’s tr here
Have a party and who will show
Time for another December birthday bash climb. Much speculation on weather, but a diehard group will have fun regardless. Several dropped and some forgotten added (like how could you forget the B-Day boy –Martin. Convoluted carpooling and we all still made it to the TH. Well almost all. Greg was a no show. A trip to the Wizard of Ooze and then back to the TH at the Forest Land trailhead and gate on the north side of Conrad Road just east of Rockport off Highway 20. Wow, looks like a happening. Must be something big going on, cars everywhere. Oh, not that bad, just different from trips where we all fit in one car. Packs, goodies and snowshoes loaded we hit the trail at 8:10a (c283’).
Off ferning we go
Up the trail that turned onto an old road. Up the hill and at .3m (c511’) from the TH we took a faint trail on the right and crossed the creek on a slippery log to the base of a steep fern covered bank. Right from the start it was rough, wet and up. Scratching and crawling we gained easier ground, still rich in giant ferns. A few long abandoned logging roads leaving the highest one at c1500’ (0.9m, 1h5min). We kept following the ridge proper into a logged opening (on map) at c2670 (1.4m, 1h55min). The going was less treed, a great view with a little drizzle and still much crawling over brush to the top of the opening (1.6m, c3170, 2h15min).
Gathering at the clearing
Will there be snow
Back in the trees the ground soon grew white. We re-grouped on occasion and some stopped to don crampons when we hit firm hard snow. Maybe not needed since the first of the group up made beautiful stair steps. Snow getting deeper we gained the east ridge at c4320’ (2.3m, 3h10min). Snowshoes still not needed as we topped the high point (c4620’). An easy dropping of elevation. Just meant going up the way back. We lost 330 feet (2.9m, c4325, 3h42m) to the start of the final stretch to the summit. Erin long gone, Eric E chasing and Carla trapped in their back draft left a nice path. The ridge earlier had been a walk in the woods. Now the terrain opened and steepened as it does at time on mountain ridges.
The final ridge and the spot to head up the south side
On the ridge proper
The air was warming and some south side sidehilling was required. I carefully made across the slope on shallow snow. Thankful for the grip of my ultra-heavy mega steel macho crampons. Then angled still on the south side in smaller trees west toward the summit. Each step I felt more and more like a wimp. Legs feeling heavy and heavier. I’m really out of shape. Oh, look there. My ultra-macho crampons have an ultra-big pile of snow attached. So much for anti-bots. Maybe I was confused and the anti-bots are for protecting the computer? Knock them off, step, knock them off, step… I finally made the summit totally in admiration of those on top, I think they were ultra-jealous of my mondo macho giganto snow booties. (3.5m, 5408’, 4h34min, 12:44)
The Mystical Unicorn
Tromping around the summit we found a few soft deep places and soon had spots for our long celebration break. We heard voices below yelling if we were okay. What? I guess so. Later we would find one of the group made the crossing of the southern slope sans crampons and took a slide off a small cliff.
Sunshine, views, friends arriving two and three at a time. And Greg… where did he come from. Seems even leaving an hour after us he can beat us to the summit. Over the ridge a flash of pink and sparkles. Hey! Could it be? YES! It was the Mystical climbing Unicorn come to bring party treats!
Arrival of the Magical Unicorn and his magic treats
As the unicorn produced a tray of magically sparked cupcakes tom proceeded to entertain us with his pack of never ending beer cans. Like the cup of Valhalla or a small clown car, they kept coming out. Now this man likes his beer –and stays in shape hauling it with him. I noticed one person still missing and started back down the ridge. Natala was not far down and I accompanied her the final stretch. Everyone was here. Let the B-day celebration commence. Beer from Tom, Macadamia nuts fresh from Hawaii from Natala, cupcakes from the Unicorn and good people to enjoy it all.
I can’t remember all the comments in the 1h35minute on top, but the one that had I remember is that it was the best party ever on this summit and probably the largest since the 1920’s Mounties summit…
The party crew
I want a sunset
Matt loving sunsets was interested in staying for sunset. Wouldn’t be too long with the short days. It was a long way down with no trail and that fern area… No one took him up and after summit shutter delay we followed down to catch up with the group.
Greg on the ridge last of the open ridge, waiting for all to descend the summit ridge
We took many breaks re-grouping. Up the ridge, then down following our tracks in the snow. A short break here and there. The snow stopped before the clearing where we took a break to watch the sunset.
Sunset at the logged out clearing
Then off again scattered in our separate ideas of the way down. Into the woods, followed and across some long overgrown logging roads. Starting to get dark as we started the fern fun. Down and traverse right.
The start of the ferns –before dark
Then very steep and ferned. It was very dark now and progress could be seen by headlamps ahead and behind. Found the creek in the dark and an easy crossing. The road was within 100’ and the entire group waited till all made it there. All together we made the final quarter mile to the cars where the Unicorn and others produced a box of beverages and snacks. The party continued for some time. Then we piled back into our cars and left, leaving the neighbors probably wondering what the heck the event was that hit their neighborhood.
Celebration continues at the car(s)
A simple scramble made even more fun with a great group and celebration.
Now I ponder, what will next year’s B-Day hike be?
Ascent, 3.5m, +5465 -340 ascent, 4h34m
Descent, 3.4m, +340 -5465 ascent, 4h47m
Total, 6.9m, +/-5805vert
Copyright 2011, FWB, all rights reserved