Also known as The Tusk O' Granite, you've probably admired West Granite Mountain from the summit of Granite Prime. A mix of talus hopping and bushwhacking is required to reach this point in summer. In winter, the ridge fills in with snow, making for a pleasant, though sometimes challenging, snowshoe climb.
Join the waitlist and I will add you to the confirmed group once you answer all the questions and meet the requirements.
Winter hiking experience required - snow, ice and steep hiking conditions.
The last few years, we followed an amazing route, enhanced by beautiful sunny conditions. Looks like this coming Sunday should produce similar weather, and hopefully stable snow will make for a fantastic adventure. Clear skies and calm conditions offer the promise of boundless views, giving us extra incentive to reach the summit.
This is a long route, covering several miles before we start the climb to the peak. The first couple of miles will be on wet bare trail, changing to packed snow, and should go quickly. After that, once we cross 3000 feet of elevation, where we leave the trail, we'll likely encounter a foot or more of softer snow. From here, we'll need to work as a group to break in the route. We will be moving at a steady rate and will stay together for the whole trip. You must be a strong and fast hiker with excellent stamina to join this group.
From the trailhead, hike along the wide Pratt Lake Trail (#1007), crossing several streams fed by snowbanks high up on the flanks of Granite Mountain. In winter, these streams may be frozen solid, so use care when crossing.
Around two miles in, after the second major stream crossing, the trail continues due west, sloping up gradually to around the 3000 foot level. A sharp corner where the trail turns north marks where the adventure begins - depart the trail uphill to the northeast and pick your way up the southwest ridge of the Tusk.
This will be an exploratory climb / bushwhack up sparsely forested slopes, following the ridge as closely as possible where terrain and snow conditions permit. Avoiding the steepest western slopes, we break out of the trees and see our first objective: West Granite peak, at elevation 5566 (just 63 feet shy of Granite Prime!).
If snow conditions are good, and the group is willing, we can make the traverse along the ridge to the east not quite 3/4 of a mile, losing and then regaining 500 feet of elevation, to visit Granite Prime. We can then descend the southwest winter route of that peak to complete the loop. Avalanche forecast and on-site snow conditions will determine if this is a viable option. Otherwise, we'll drop to the saddle and make our way south through the bowl between the two peaks until we cross the Pratt Lake Trail again. We've followed this return route a couple of times previously and it was an absolute pleasure in the warm afternoon sun.
What to Bring:
Required: Traction devices (microspikes), hiking poles, snowshoes (MSR or similar with good traction for steep slopes), ice axe
Ten essentials, food (lunch + snacks), tasty beverage to toast at the summit, 2-3 liters water, headlamp/flashlight, waterproof hiking boots, gaiters, pack, layers to keep warm/cool in winter hiking conditions, shell/windbreaker, sun protection (glasses, sunscreen), camera, a keen sense of adventure.
Weather forecast for Sunday shows a partly cloudy morning changing to nearly clear skies for the afternoon, high temps in the upper 30s to mid 40s, and low wind (~5mph).
Hike Stats (both summits):
Starting Elevation: 1880 feet
Summit Elevation: 5629 feet
Total Gain: ~4300 feet
Round Trip Distance: ~9 miles
Trailhead Driving Directions:
Take I-90 east to exit 47, then turn left (north) to cross over the freeway. In 0.2 miles, at a T intersection take another left. The parking lot is just around the corner.
Northwest Forest Pass required to park at the trailhead.