Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mt Scott

Cindy McCloskey and myself ascended Mt Scott in the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma on Saturday October 20th.  I generally climb the south side of Mt Scott every year during the fall and winter, when the threat for snake encounters is lower.  However, October 20th was warm (temperatures near 80F), so we had to watch every step.  The climb starts off by departing a picnic area parking area, crossing a highway, hiking up to the summit road, crossing the road, and then moving up slabs of rock intermixed with boulder hopping.  After moving through this section, bushwhacking through tangles of trees and thorn bushes is required.  Then, a 30 foot cliff is order to continue the climb, a weakness in the cliff must be found.  There are multiple options dispersed along the cliff...though a bit of route finding is necessary to find the best option.  Once above the cliff, the terrain flattens out, and the route leads to a road that circles its way to the top of the mountain.  One can follow the road up to the top, or cross it and find a route through additional boulders and slabs.  A large parking lot is present at the top of the mountain, and the true summit is in a grassy boulder area located in the middle of the road and lot.  Though you only gain 1000 feet to the top, the ascent still takes about 1.5 hours due to complex route finding and bushwhacking.  The easiest route back down the mountain is to retrace your path down to the road located on the south side of the mountain, and then angle toward a weather station.  Angle south-southeast from the weather station...this will allow one to avoid the cliff, and find a steep but much easier route back down to the forested terrain below the cliff.  From here, it is just a long southward-slog hopping from boulder to boulder back down to the base of the mountain.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Twin Rocks Mountain

Cindy McCloskey and myself set out from the Sunset Picnic Area in the Wichita Mountains intent on linking up Twin Rocks Mountain, Mount Lincoln, and Elk Mountain.  However, an immediate route finding error made on my part at the trailhead caused us to waste too much time hiking through the backcountry, and we only bagged Twin Rocks.  We made our way across the grasslands and prairie located between Sunset Peak and Elk Mountain, encountering deer, elk, bison, and the occasional tarantula.  We ascended one rocky summit southeast of Sunset Peak, then headed south-southeast toward a canyon that leads to the Charons Garden Mountains area.  We then reached the western headwall of Twin Rocks Mountain.  We climbed up a gully filled with giant boulders the size of small houses, then ascended granite slabs to the top of a small subsidiary peak located immediately west of Twin Rocks.  We made our way down a steep ridge, then headed east through the gully located between Twin Rocks and Granite Mountain.  Immediately east of the col connecting Twin Rocks and Granite, we ascended a 50 degree gully up to the summit of Twin Rocks.  It took us 4 hours to obtain the summit, due to my route finding error, as well as prolonged bushwhacking through sections of ravines.  So, after a short rest, we descended the easy eastern ridge of Twin Rocks and then took the Charons Garden Trail back to the Sunset Picnic Area parking lot.  Despite missing out on Mount Lincoln and Elk Mountain, the sustained route finding and scrambling/climbing turned this day into a worthy endeavor.