Saturday, March 02, 2013

Granite Mountain East Ridge - Wichita Mountains

I spent the first morning of meteorological spring climbing the east ridge of Granite Mountain.  I'm coming off mid-shifts, which unfortunately means waking up at 3am everyday since my body hasn't adjusted to a rotated sleep schedule.  Thus, I left Norman early, 6am, and started hiking from the Charons Garden parking lot by 8am.  After veering left off the main trail, I followed a faint trail down to a creek, ascended up the other side, traversed across a small ridge, descended into another creek bed that led north, and then reached the base of the east ridge of Granite.  The initial part of the ridge includes fun scrambling across boulders and rock slabs.  Then I slogged west up the ridge, dipped briefly into a valley, which was followed by an ascent up a headwall.  The ridge then led northwest, eventually reaching the first of two gullies.  This first gully is the pseudo-crux of the route, composed of a downclimb and then upclimb of easy 3rd class terrain.  The second gully follows shortly after, and is descended by following a series of ramps.  Third class terrain leads up to a sub-summit, followed by another small gully beneath the summit of Granite Mountain.  After climbing 100 feet up rock slabs, the summit of Granite was obtained.  I then descended into a bowl shaped valley located below the peak, and reascended back up to the east ridge, which led back down to the beginning of the route.