After finally convincing two Mountaineers friends that meetup.com isn’t the worst place to find alpine scrambling partners, I found an opportune time to schedule a Gothic Peak scramble. Our group of five began our ascent beneath mostly cloudy skies and temps cool enough to elicit goosebumps. After the prior weekend’s uncomfortable heat and humidity on Sloan Peak, I relished this day’s cooler and drier conditions.
After a mile or so on the Monte Cristo road, we began our hike up the former miner’s trail. Occasional peeks of sun led us to optimistically anticipate impressive views from Gothic’s summit. Nearing aptly-named Foggy Lake, our anticipation (not enjoyment) subsided. Gothic Peak peeked out long enough to spot a boot trail leading to its SE ridge.
On top of the ridge we spotted what appeared to be a steep snow-slope on Gothic’s east flank. Purposefully having left our ice axes at home (we wanted a low-key Class 2 scramble) we continued on and discovered the snow wasn’t nearly a steep as it first appeared. We headed up the left-hand side of the snowslope, and due to steepening and semi-loose rock, found it wasn’t the optimal route. We backtracked a bit and wound around the moat’s left-side. From that point, we hiked easy loose scree and reached the base of the Gothic’s summit block.
The final scramble is on high-quality rock with great hand and foot-holds. Halfway up, head to the right for a more “sporting” Class 3 move; head left to continue up less exposed Class 2 terrain. Forty to fifty feet up the summit block, surprisingly, we topped out on the summit. I say “surprisingly” because I expected a slighyly longer final scramble route. Per non-existent views, we left the summit ten minutes later, and took a break at the base of the summit block.
Descending we stayed left (north) of the snowslope. Despite some loose scree, when the snow’s mostly gone and it’s possible to punch through remaining thin snow, this is the optimal ascent and descent route. During our descent, we commented that route-finding in whiteout conditions from Gothic Peak through Gothic Basin, would be a bit challenging (despite numerous cairns) since the rock and dirt route meanders significantly. Given its beauty, exceptional views in good weather, and a feeling of remoteness, my next visit to Gothic Basin will likely include an overnight stay with a leisurely Gothic Peak scramble and a potential Del Campo summit bid.
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