Charleston Peak, Spirit Mountain
By: Doris Golden
Over the New Year's weekend Rich Quackenbush, Doris Golden and son Karl, and Hank Levine joined Roy Ward, Larry Goetz, and Walter Welch for a winter climb of Charleston Peak and Mummy. Leaving the roadhead at 8:30 Saturday, moving through deep powder on a fairly steep grade, we could do no better than four miles of the nine miles to the peak that first day. This brought us to just under the ridge, about 10,500 feet, where we bedded down on a relatively level pad, not too windy, at 6 pm. It was about 10 to 15 degrees. There was considerable exhaustion, but the next morning brought fresher minds and the realization that the plans would need to be re-appraised. Even reaching the ridge early in the day, we could not project a successful summit climb and get back to the roadhead by evening. Snowshoes, although not practical on the steep ascent, might have helped in such a projection for the long ridge traverse, but we had none. As we melted snow for water, attempted to thaw boots, pack tents, etc., heavy clouds appeared over Mummy, leaving us with only one way to go -- out. The 8-hour trip up was only a 2-hour descent, with Larry Goetz leading us down many glissades. Light snow flurries occurred intermittently and a strong cold front left the trail icy near the roadhead where it levels out. Concern with torn clothing, inadequately water-sealed boots, one member without gaiters, insufficient water intake on the ascent rendering conditions like dehydration, toes possibly frost-bitten -- all these made the aborted trip adventurous. Long legs made it possible. This was the second attempt for Doris and Rich, who did 16 of the 18 miles in February; that was a one-day fiasco, on packed snow, wearing crampons all the way.
Some split for home, but Larry, Roy, and Walter headed out at 11:00 am to do McCullough and Spirit. After spending three hours map reading and wandering over roads, gullies, and washes looking for the route in to McCullough, they abandoned that plan. Driving through Christmas Tree Pass to scout the roadhead for Spirit, they proceeded to Davis Dam Recreation Area, where they spent a very windy night. Back to Spirit on Monday, their climb was very windy, strong gusts making it necessary to step carefully at some places along the ridge. They found the view from the summit obscured by dust. They hoped to do Old Woman but severe dusty winds prevented them from traveling over 35 mph, so they opted for Marble on the way home. It was Roy's second climb there.
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