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Thread: Last week's adventure (pic heavy)

  1. #1
    Lover of Mountains nightsky's Avatar
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    Last week's adventure (pic heavy)

    Thought some of you might enjoy pictures from the backpacking trip I did last week. I usually do several dozen hikes and backpacking trips per year, but I had wanted to do this one for some time. My buddy (and his dog) and I covered 33 miles over 3.5 days. We went to the Red Castle area of the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah. The namesake is a peak in the center of the upper bowl called Red Castle, which resembles a castle that glows red in early or late light. The peaks range from the upper 12's to lower 13's in altitude. The lakes in the bowl itself range at altitudes between 10700' to 11600' Our goal was to spend a few days in the area with one day devoted to summitting nearby Wilson Peak, 13060'. The weather was cool and cloudy the first couple days. The temps fell to 25F at night, to a high of 45F in the day. We did get a skiff of snow, but it didn't accumulate. On the last day, it cleared up and warmed up into the 60's.

    So, on to the pics! The first 9 miles of the trail in are in thick forest, with nothing much to see. After a long day of hiking, we are finally rewarded with our first views of Red Castle just a mile below the lakes.


    Here's the lower lake, which we camped near for the night. There was also a group of horseback riders who were camped in the bowl. The horses seemed to enjoy their buffet.


    Some of the local flora:






    A pic of Red Castle taken through my sunglasses. It really brought out the red in the midday sun.


    Another pic of Red Castle above an area pond:


    Another small pond (one of dozens) in the bowl.


    In the distance is Wilson Peak, our goal. It is much further than it looks!


    Wilson Peak in its entirety above Red Castle Lake. Our route was to gain the pass on the right, then scramble left up to the summit ridge, then cross that to the actual peak on the left.


    Looking across Red Castle Lake:


    The trail stopped at the lake, so from there on we just hiked by line of sight. First we had to gain the upper bowl, then on to the pass. It was just one endless boulder hop. Along the way:


    Upper Red Castle Lake in the higher bowl. It sits at about 11600' and well above treeline. The peak rises sharply 1400' above this upper lake (just off the right edge of the picture).


    Here we are climbing up the pass. The rocks gave away for a bit in fields of soft grass. It was sweet relief on my chewed up feet! From here, the scramble left and up the ridge didn't look all that bad.


    Finally! After hours of scrambling up loose rock, we made it to the pass. Only to see more of the same. You can see my buddy in his red jacket. At this point we are at about 12400'. The wind was making itself known here! From here, we just look what seems to be the easiest route up. It was tricky, as from below, you cannot see entire sections of cliff above. We'd get to an area, only to find it impassable. It required a lot of backtracking. Plus, this stuff is loose and slippery, and the slope was steep.


    Some detail of the rock. It was quite a mix; lots of boulders, then fields of shale, then sharp granite. Lots of colors also, pinks, yellows, greens, it was pretty, but a royal pain in the **** (oh and in the feet also).




    One of the trickier sections. My friend can be seen if you look closely, on the upper right side. We had to shimmy across this face. On the other side was a chute we were able to scramble up. Exposure was quite bad. A slip would be fatal, so the going was slow. The dog did surprisingly well!


    On top of the chute, and looking across the north face of the peak.


    And looking up from the same area. More of the same. It seemed like it would never end. We were both pretty miserable by here. Routefinding is tedious, slow, and discouraging. The summit ridge is in sight. We had to scramble up the rocks right above. There was no way around this cliff band, so we went for the part with the most handholds.

  2. #2
    Lover of Mountains nightsky's Avatar
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    On top! It had taken us half a day to get from our camp at the lake up to this point, much longer than we had expected. The views were spectacular! From here, it was a hike of 3/4 miles east to the actual summit point. We were planning on descending that side and into a different bowl, making for a big loop. Views from along the top:






    You can see the summit point in the distance:


    View into the bowl below with all the Red Castle Lakes. The upper and middle are visible. The lower one we camped at is out of sight.




    Looking across the ridge onto Red Castle peak itself. I loved the rock formations here:


    Ok, on to the summit point. My friend is just ahead. To the left, the drop was near vertical, so we tried to stay on the right side of the high points. Exposure wasn't too bad most of the way, but there were a few small iffy parts.


    Gaining the summit point (13060'):


    GPS on top! GPS derived altitude isn't exact.


    Looking back across the summit ridge profile:


    From the high point, looking east. In the distance is Kings Peak, the highest point in the state. Our plan was to descend into this bowl, but no good. It would have required ropes; it was much higher class terrain than we expected. Light was running out, so we didn't stay long. Plus were were cold, hungry, and tired. We needed to at least be back to the pass by dark to avoid the worst parts.


    On the way back. The sun is shining on our almighty pass ahead and below. We had to hurry as this terrain would be a disaster in dark. We had headlamps, but on slippery scree and cliffs it is too dangerous.


    Views on the way down:


    We did make the pass just in time to see the sunset on Red Castle. We had hoped to be at camp by then, the views would have been perfect from there. But this had to do. Definitely looks best in this light!



    The rest of the hike down was by headlamp. It was slow...no trail to follow, and nothing but boulder hopping. We had left camp at 11am that morning, and make it back at 1 am the next morning. A few things slowed us down: The rocks were slipperier than planned, so the going was slow. It was steeper than planned. We moved slow due to sore feet from the rocks. But mainly route finding ate up most the time. Plus, by the time we were on top, we were both getting hypoxic, fighting headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. We needed to be at our best at the point we could least rely on it. So we went slow and made sure of each step.

    It was a very deep sleep that night, to the howling of coyotes. We had our little schnauzer to guard us though, so all was well.

    Ok, time to go home, a full day's hike out. The weather was better, it was warming up. It was a spectacularly beautiful day. We were in 'get there now' mode, but I managed a couple pics on our way down.

    Red Castle:


    Yours truly!


    Hope you enjoyed the pics as much as I enjoyed taking them!

  3. #3
    ermahgerd petmantis's Avatar
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    Woah, WHAT a view!!! That must've been one sweet trip!
    <Heli> How are you guys losing your hamatas?
    <Brokken> Heli: The hamburglar.

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    dashman's Avatar
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    Spectacular!

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    Californian in DC DrWurm's Avatar
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    Wow, stunning photography. I'll have to go out there some time.

    Jason

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    D_muscipula's Avatar
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    view my growlist
    http://grwlist.notlong.com

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    Devon's Avatar
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    wow! That's so amazing!! That's a great veiw! VERY nice!

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Beautiful area to be chillaxing!

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