Sunday, December 1, 2013

Carbonate Mountain

Summit Shot
Hike number 3 over Thanksgiving break.  I wanted to do something fun like Galena, but with weather moving in for Sunday I decided on something in Hailey.  My second option was Della Mountain, which is the mountain immediately south of Carbonate Mountain. 
I left the house around 11am just after the rain/snow started accumulating in town.  My plan was to find a way to access Della but I wasn’t sure how to do so since there isn’t much posted online about the mountain.  After running into private property on the south and north I decided to just head up Carbonate Mountain, which is Della’s neighbor to the north.
On most visits to Hailey I usually do a hike of Carbonate, so this is an area I know pretty well.  The TH is basically in town, so that makes a very convenient hike.  For those of you looking for directions just turn west on Bullion (lighted intersection), this becomes Croy Creek Road.  Cross the bridge over the Big Wood River and park in the area on the north side of the road. 
Cloudy Conditions
There are many trails to use some much more direct than others with varying mileage, but they all connect at some point and will lead you to the summit.  I typically hike the direct southeast ridge that is the fastest way to the summit, but since I’ve been hiking quite a bit this week I took the switchbacks for the ascent to rest my burning quads.
The last time I hiked Carbonate was before the Beaver Creek Fire, so the view was quite different today.  The fire scarred the entire south face of the mountain and made it over the upper ridge threatening the town of Hailey.  It looks like the firefighters got this fire contained just in time.  On the south face the scar goes all the way to Croy Creek Road basically to the parking area.
The visibility today was at a minimum and got worse the higher I made it up the mountain.  After coming over the southwest ridge I was basically in a cloud of blowing snow.  It wasn’t too bad, but the worst weather I’ve faced on Carbonate and my other hikes this week.
Fire scar
As I arrived to what I have always considered the summit I took a look at my GPS.  I was kind of shocked to see that my TOPO program had this as a false summit and I actually had a bit north to go along the ridge.  I have always considered the first large hill the summit of Carbonate, but never had a GPS to confirm it.  I was about an hour in to my hike, so I figured I had time to continue north to the summit indicated by my GPS.
I was surprised how much longer it was to the northern summit, it felt like at least 15 minutes.  The wind was howling across the ridge and my sweat was starting to chill my back so I put on my down jacket and gloves at the summit.  I took two pictures and started back.  I would have liked to do the western summit, but the weather was just too nasty today.
Hailey, Idaho
On the return hike I mixed a number of trails to get down a little faster.  The footing on the ridge was a bit slippery in a few areas, but I felt like I was making good time.  I stopped once when I found a windless cove for a drink of water and snapped a picture of Hailey.  After that it was a ten minute hike and I was back to the car.  I took my jackets – 3 in all – off at the car.  They were all soaked, either from sweat or from the elements.  It was nice to shed the layers finally.
This would be my last hike in Idaho for a while since we are heading back to Denver tomorrow.  It has been a lot of fun hiking some new mountains and some old ones.  I ended up with 4 summits and about 6,500ft in elevation gain.  This was one of my most productive climbing weeks in a while.  I miss climbing in Idaho, I think it’s much more challenging than most of the areas I’ve been to in Colorado so far.  Be thankful for these solo summits you get here, they are hard to come by in other states.
GPS Track
Date: 12/1/2013
Starting Elevation: 5,330ft
Carbonate Mountain: 6,509ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,905ft
Class: 1
Distance:  5.86 miles
Time: 2:30 moving, 15 stopped. 

Climbing Partner: Solo

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