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MangyMarmot
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Joined: 06 Apr 2012
Posts: 226 | TRs

MangyMarmot
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PostSat Jan 13, 2018 12:03 am 
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I had a day off in the middle of the week and the forecast was good. I had to get out into the mountains. The snow conditions didn't look good for skiing so I grabbed the snowshoes and headed to the Middle Fork. The objectives were Quartz and Bessequartz. I had read a couple of trip reports. The parties used the South Ridge route, so I decided to give it a go.

On the initial pass, I didn't see the old spur road where the route starts. I had to turn around and drive back. You can find it if you look carefully. I parked a bit down the road from the spur road since there was no good spot right there. The spur road had a faint tread, so people do occasionally use it. I soon hit the CCC trail and turned left up the hill almost immediately. It was right before crossing the bridge across the creek.

Bridge on the CCC trail.
Bridge on the CCC trail.

I worked my way through the first cliff band, and to my surprise, I got onto a fairly open forested slope. I was expecting more of a bushwhack. The slope to the South Ridge, and the South Ridge itself was a fairly pleasant hike. Brush and obstacles were minimal. I didn't hit snow until about 3000 ft. Soon after hitting snow, I noticed some prints going up the ridge. I thought I may have company, but in the end they turned out to be deer prints.

Bessemer from somewhere on the South Ridge route.
Bessemer from somewhere on the South Ridge route.

The snow wasn't very deep until about 3600 ft where the traverse started. This is where things got a bit scrambly. I may not have been at the right elevation for the traverse. The hillside was fairly steep here. The snow was deep enough to hide obstacles but not deep enough to support my weight. All rocks and wood was wet and slick from the snow. There was much slipping, post-holing and colorful language. Veggie belays were used extensively. As I neared the pond, the snow got deeper so I put on the snowshoes.

From the pond, Quarts was just up the steep hillside. I followed the ridge to the summit. There were some views to the North and East. The other sides were blocked by trees. I didn't continue on to pot 4641 since it was clearly lower than the true summit, and by now I was concerned about the time. The traverse and snow slope took longer than expected and I was burning too much daylight.

Quartz summit
Quartz summit
Point 4641, Garfield, and Treen.
Point 4641, Garfield, and Treen.

I quickly ate my lunch on the summit, and headed back down to the pond. From the pond, I headed up to Bessequartz. The ridge didn't pose any challenges. There was a nice view of Bessemer near the top, and views to the North and West on the summit.

Rooster
Rooster
Quartz from Bessequartz.
Quartz from Bessequartz.
Garfield, Summit Chief, Overcoat, Chimney Rock, Lemah and Burnt Boot.
Garfield, Summit Chief, Overcoat, Chimney Rock, Lemah and Burnt Boot.
Paperboy and Goat
Paperboy and Goat

Now I was clearly behind schedule. I wanted to get down below the traverse while it was still light, so I didn't linger at this summit either. The way down went fairly well. I kept my snowshoes on through the traverse. This worked somewhat better than boots. I ended up getting through the traverse and back onto the ridge shortly before sunset.

Garfield
Garfield

The way down turned out to be a bit more tricky than the way up. The problem with a wide ridge in an open forest is that there are no good landmarks to use to be able to retrace your steps. First I ended up too far to the left in steep, brushy terrain, then as the light dwindled away, I got too far to the right into steep brushy terrain. Finally, I pulled out my phone and brought up the GPS app with the last of the battery power. Still, I didn't find that open forest route that I used on the way up. I bushwhacked my way down into the valley down steep slopes by headlamp. Once in the valley, I knew I would hit the CCC trail. I followed the CCC trail to the foot bridge where I originally left it on the way up, then back down the old spur road to the Middle Fork road and my car.

It was a good trip for a short but sunny January day, though it took a bit longer than expected. The snowshoes were definitely necessary. I was nobody all day, but I didn't really expect to see anyone on a January weekday.
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6299 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostSat Jan 13, 2018 12:37 am 
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Nice shots of snowy Bessemer! Congrats on doing a pretty tough trip in winter by yourself. You navigated way better than we did -- we traversed too low and ran into many nasty gullies.

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4134 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSat Jan 13, 2018 3:41 pm 
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Thanks for the report.  I hope to use it later this winter.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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