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Trip Report    

Spark Plug Mountain

Spark Plug Mountain

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Walter led us up the "direct" route for his second and final mentored lead. With the completion of this trip, Walter simultaneously became our oldest and our youngest (newest) scramble leader. Walter led us up on the last day of his youth, for the next day he turned 75.

From Scenic, we took the Surprise Lake trail to almost 3400. We then followed the Little Plug drainage up an avalanche slope about 1000 feet to the band of cliffs. We chose one avalanche gully to climb and climbed it almost to the top but it eventually became too steep. We had a wicked hard time time descending it. The next avalanche gully worked. Once past the band of cliffs we proceeded SSW to Little Plug and then SW to Spark Plug Lake. From the lake, we chose the right hand ridge, but discovered that it cliffed out after climbing several hundred feet. Another retreat and then we tried going up the bowl. This time, we got to within about ten feet of gaining the ridge when we were stopped by cornices. (I should mention that we were in clouds almost the whole time and so visibility ranged from about 100 feet for dark objects to a few feet for snow features, making navigating more challenging.) We traversed under the cornices until we could find a place where we could break through. We emerged on the ridge just 12 vertical feet from the summit. It took 8 hours to reach the summit and 3:45 to descend, for a long 11:45 day of hard work climbing through wet, heavy snow.