I took a vacation day for my birthday to hike but nobody else had the day off so I opted for my own journey. I started on the Monte Cristo road at about 10:00. The clouds were rolling back and it was becoming quite sunny. This is definitely the steepest trail I have gone up with no stairs. The upper part of the trail had great views of Silver Tip Peak and Sheep Gap Mountain. At various points Sloan and Cadet were peeking out of the clouds. I arrived in Gothic Basin at Foggy Lake about 12:30 or so. It was strangely rocky and looked like a vegetated version of the moon. A couple of people were leaving and I ended up with the area to myself all day. I filled up my water bottle in the clear blue lake and saw many lovely trout swimming around. Then it was time to head for the glory of Gothic Peak. As I headed up the clouds rolled in and visibility was not so great. I soon discovered that I had taken a less than optimal route as it was covered with wet sand and gravel above some exposure above a snow field. I slipped around and the poles were no help and it scared me to where I considered going back, but just then the clouds rolled back a bit and I could see I was really close to the summit block. For some reason there were a bunch of grasshoppers up there which motivated me for the final stretch. The summit block was really easy scrambling with good foot holds and nice rocks and small tree trunks for hand holds. Even though it was a bit exposed, I was much more comfortable with what looked like big Sasquatch stairs than the slippery gravel and sand. It took less than an hour from the lake to the summit.
It took me a while to find the summit register. Somebody left a loop of belay rope on an outcrop and at first I thought it was the register. I see no need for a rope on this block. Good thing I did not try to grab the rope. The register was actually between a couple of rocks in an old plastic jar. I signed the register and ate some lunch and wondered how I was going to get off of this mountain. It was misty and there would be no panorama for me today. The aural qualities of a misty peak can be so eerie. Once I dropped about 500 feet or so I was out of the mist again and had a great view of Gothic Basin.
I took a different route down along the steep boulder field which was a great choice. This put me near a ridge above the lake where I saw a baby marmot. I went down to the lake and since I was tired and sweaty and sore and had the entire basin to myself, I dove in for a swim with my trout buddies. Wow did that invigorate me!
This was definitely a physically demanding trip, but well worth the effort.
That is pretty much the route I took down. I tried to hug the upper ridge to make the ascent easier. Next time I will just bite the bullet and head up the boulders. I will certainly do this scramble again as I think it would be a good place to take some friends and hopefully we will get the panorama.
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