Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 575 mView mapDownload GPS track
With the avalanche risk remaining unacceptably high in the mountains and continuing questionable weather, we decided to stick to the front ranges for a second day. Wanting something we hadn't done before, I remembered an ascent I'd seen earlier this season of Mount McNab by Vern Dewitt
and Steven Song
. After convincing my paranoid self that the Sheep River - an obstacle along the way - would definitely be frozen solid after the past week of frigid temperatures, we headed back to the same area we'd been yesterday: the Sandy McNab day use area at the winter gate closure on Highway 546.
This time, however, we drove down into the day use area and parked as close to the Sheep River as possible. Repeating the procedure from yesterday, we donned our microspikes and strapped our snowshoes to our packs, then descended 40 m to the frozen Sheep River. We crossed just to the west of where Coal Creek joins the river, then followed an old snowshoe trail through a couple of open meadows to the base of the ascent ridge.
The ascent route is relatively straightforward from this point onwards - just head roughly west along the ridge - but as nearly the entire ascent is in trees it can be difficult to navigate. A GPS certainly helps keep on track, but even if you get off route the gentle terrain and open forest shouldn't make it too difficult to get back on track.
The views from the summit, however, are essentially non-existent. They're comically bad, actually. However, following the advice on Bob Spirko's website
we continued to the lower western summit and were rewarded with greatly improved - although still relatively terrible - views. We found a spot sheltered from the wind here and ate lunch, but were rather quickly driven back down by an approaching rainstorm. Retreating the way we came, breaking in the lovely pine forest on the way, we arrived back at the car exactly 4 hours after we had left. And once again, the 4 lbs of snowshoes on our backs served merely as training weights!