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Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Mar 16, 2013 - Devil's Peak

 

Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 11.65 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,405 feet

Trip Time: 7:16

Maps and Stats:
Devil's Peak has become my de-facto "go-to" location when I am craving a winter climb. With the success I had in February when I didn't even have to use my snowshoes at all (thanks to the quality of the trails that the Royal Gorge maintains for their cross country skiers) I invited Kyle along to attempt his first winter climb. He doesn't have any winter gear, so our success would have to largely depend on the continued quality of the trails. For this trip we met up at the Fry's Electronics in Roseville, which was nice for Kyle since all of our previous joint hikes in the Sierra involved him meeting me in Tracy and then carpooling east. It took us each about 80 minutes to arrive at the Fry's from our respective locations and from there Kyle did the driving thanks to my forgetting my wallet at home. We arrived at the trailhead for the day's climb and were struck by the lack of snow. My previous visits all saw snow pack that reached halfway up the signpost.

Once we started on the clearly marked trails there was plenty of snow underfoot, although it was occasionally soft and difficult to avoid sinking. But the occasional posthole only seemed to add to the fun of being out in the winter elements and we both agreed that we didn't mind the extra effort. Along the way we encountered several streams which were claiming ever larger portions of the trail. This was one area where we didn't want to fall through.

After crossing the streams we headed up on the hillside, following what was a somewhat easy trail but that was increasingly difficult with the warmth of the day causing us to have to put in some extra effort. After a couple of miles we encountered the sights of the majestic Devil's Peak, which I never tire of taking pictures of. Of course our route was not going to be up the steep slopes visible in this shot, we had to circle around to the opposite (south) side and climb a somewhat steep slope that was devoid of any trail. Being more versed in the these things, I let Kyle break trail most of the way up, and I used his tracks as steps for myself. This was probably the hardest part of the trip up, with the combination of the steepness, lack of trail, and softness of the snow proving to be a challenge.

Once we attained the ridgeline the snow was almost non-existent for the rest of the trip up, in sharp contrast to what we had just climbed. The climb up to the top of Devil's Peak requires some Class 3 climbing up about 150 feet. This is by far the most enjoyable part of the trip. I led the way up, and was able to get off a couple of shots of Kyle climbing up beneath me. The last little bit to reach the lower south summit had a fun little traverse on the edge of a steep cliff as you approach the first summit marker. Once at the lower south summit, however, you realize that you still have to traverse over to the higher north summit, with its imposing sheer drop-offs to punish any foolish mistakes. We began the traverse, again with me leading the way and Kyle following. From the top it looks like it might take a long time to make the traverse, but in reality it was probably only about 20 minutes. After one final fun little move we were on the summit of Devil's Peak.

The views, are of course, fantastic. Not a bad view in any direction. After taking the summit photos Kyle got one of me on top before we began our descent. Once we got back down off Devil's Peak and back down into the snow we began to have some problems. We originally planned on breaking trail over to Snow Mountain, but the softness of the snow proved to be way too difficult. It quickly became apparent that we would never make it over to Snow Mountain, so we headed cross county trying to hook back up with our original trail in. That was no easy feat, as every few steps we would posthole. We finally made it back to the original trail, after about an hour of cursing. We came across the Warming Hut, which we were more than happy to use to change our soaking socks and to take a break. Eventually we got back on the trail, and made our way down what we thought was the correct path.

Only it wasn't the right path...I had a GPS and I could see that we could probably cross country it and hook back up with the right trail, but the challenge was that any cross country efforts were near impossible thanks to the depth and weakness of the snow. One of the benefits of going this new direction was that we eventually came to frozen lake which was a pretty interesting sight but at that point we knew we had to bite the bullet and turn around and head back towards Devil's Peak to try to see where the heck we lost the trail. We never were really able to find our original trail, but by using my GPS, we were able to sort of stumble upon it and follow it most of the way out. Thanks to the heat of the day, some of the streams that we were able to carefully cross in the morning were now impassable, requiring us to actually rock hop across the exposed streams. By the end of the trip I think we were both thinking that next time we go for a winter climb we will both be packing snowshoes. Although it was a challenging time, it was certainly well worth the effort and a fine day indeed.

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