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Trip Report    

Mount Howard & Mount Mastiff

Trip date: 7/20/14

Route Conditions: There were only two of us on this trip, eliminating the option of the standard one-way trip from the Merritt Lake TH to the Rock Mtn. TH. Instead, we parked at the Merritt Lake TH and decided to make a lollipop – to the summit of Mastiff, traverse to Howard, down to Crescent Lake, then back to the Merritt Lake TH.

The Nason Ridge Trail has a section of blowdown completely blocking the trail in places. Picking our way around it isn’t too bad since the forest was open and minimal brush. At 5400’ we turned off the trail toward the summit of Mastiff. It was a straight-forward walk on a boot path with some fun 3d class scrambling around the knife edge ridge to the broad shoulder that leads to the summit. The route was mostly snow-free.

From Mastiff, we dropped down to the saddle (6260’) between Mastiff and Howard, then up the easy heather and rock to the summit of Howard. There was some snow on this side, but it could be easily avoided if you chose.

Dropping from Howard to Crescent Lake was adventurous. From the heather bench below the summit, we picked our way to climbers’ right trying to avoid the cliff bands and find a reasonable route through the brush. Every time our route cliffed out, we just went a little further right and found a more passable way.

Back at the lake, we headed east on the Nason Ridge trail and dropped a heartbreaking 600’ before climbing back up to the point where we turned off for Mastiff. The trail is very steep and difficult to find in places. A GPS was helpful on at least one occasion where the trail completely disappeared in a swampy meadow. Other places, it was so overgrown, that we couldn’t see our feet. In the places where the trail was easy to follow, it went straight up.

In hindsight, we thought the better return route would have been to go back to the Merritt-Howard saddle, re-ascend Mastiff, then descend the boot path back to the Nason Ridge trail.

Equipment: Ice axes and helmets.

Summary: TH to Mastiff, 3 ½ hours. Mastiff to Howard, 1 ¾ hours. Howard to TH, 4 hours. (Total trip time, including breaks 10 ½ hours.)


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