Today's destination and planned hike was to conquer the summit of Browns Peak. Cactuscat has been after me a long time to do this one. I was somewhat concerned that snow could still be a possible problem. When I awoke bright and early this morning there was a message from GTG, advising me they noticed lots of snow on the eastern side of Four Peaks, when they did their Barnhardt trip yesterday. Todd had hoped to join us but was unable to make it. So off I went to pick up Cactuscat, not knowing what we would find.
Canyon Dweller also joined us for this adventure and we met up with him at the Four Peaks turn off.
We made our way to the trailhead in my pickup. I'm happy to report the road is in great shape. Last time I went up that road I swore I would never do it again. As we approached the trailhead it was also clear to see that snow was definitely going to be the issue of the day.
We threw on our daypacks and off we went, not knowing what we were going to find or if we would be able to complete our excursion. Within minutes of the trailhead we found ourselves walking through ankle deep snow. We eventually came to the saddle and could clearly see that the chute to the summit was full of snow. At this point we were all somewhat skeptical of our chances of success.
We made our way up the ridgeline toward the chute, then dropped down into the chute itself. Once we entered the chute we were a bit confused because all the trip reports we had read concerning the ascent, from Teva's to Fritzski's (my idol and cause of my hiking insanity), Azhiker96 and others all mention this treacherous scree chute. Heck we didn't see any scree anywhere, all we saw was snow, some of it upwards of three foot deep.
You all know what a conservative hiker I am by now, and I said absolutely no way can we make it up this damn avalanche chute, I think Canyon Dweller agreed with me, but Cactuscat the Daredevil, wrestled us both to the ground and twisted our arms and stuffed snow down our shirts until we agreed to make an attempt. ( trust me this is truly how the decision was made).
Off we went making our way up the chute, sometimes sinking in the snow up to our crotches. There were several occasions when we wondered both out loud and to ourselves what in the heck have we got ourselves into. The pucker factor was extreme at times, especially when we hit the vertical rock faces that needed ascended and they were covered with snow and ice.(Similar to the upper portion of Siphon Draw), There were a few points we thought it best to turn around, but Cactuscat kept cracking the whip and giving encouragement. Persistence paid off and we soon found ourselves on the summit of Brown Peak. This was a great feeling, but we all said, "Crap!! We have to go back down that!!!!!!!!" I know these same sentiments have been echoed by many.
The weather at the summit couldn't have been more perfect, not a cloud in the entire sky, breathtaking views, we could actually see Mt Humphrey's, and the temperature was awesome. We enjoyed lunch, took photo's, signed the new log book and debated if we wanted to try another way down. All kidding aside, it was indeed a treacherous ascent and I would be lying if I said we weren't all scared at various times on the way up. The trip down certainly wasn't a piece of cake. If our mothers knew what we did today we would all get a good spanking and be grounded from hiking.
After some debate we decided to descend via the chute. It was a slow, cautious go, involving the same team work it took to get to the top. I'm glad to say we made it without mishap, and it will indeed be a trip we will all remember for a long time. I was glad Canyon Dweller was able to join us for this one as it has been at the top of his list also. If he had any questions about Cactuscat's and Arizonaheat's sanity, his questions have been answered. For all of you that went before us we now know what you have been talking about.
I would be interested in hearing Cactuscat's and Canyon Dweller's perspectives on today's adventure now that it has all sunk in.