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Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - West Granite

With all the deep new snow, travel was slow, grinding to a near halt once we were sinking well past our waist and still had 1400 feet to go.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

We ventured out on the third day of blizzard conditions up at the pass. We encountered snow on I-90 from about mile marker 35 all the way to exit 47, where we got off the highway. The road to the Granite Mountain trail head had not been plowed, so we parked at the beginning of the road and walked the quarter mile to the trail head. There was about six to eight inches of snow there and more snow was falling. 

We took the  Pratt Lake trail for about 2.3 miles, to an elevation of about 3300, then left the trail and headed uphill (northeast). Off the trail, we were immediately sinking past our knees, even with snowshoes. We gained about 400 feet in the first half hour. As the snow got deeper, we slowed down, gaining only about 300 feet of elevation in the next half hour, then 200 feet in the next half hour. Even though the terrain was getting less steep, the going was getting harder and harder. Once we were sinking to our waists, we took out our shovels and removed about two feet of snow to enable us to take our next step. This really slowed us down and we only gained about 100 feet of  elevation in the next half hour. And the snow kept getting deeper. 

I'm enough of a mathematician to know where this series (400, 300, 200, 100 ...) is going.  And sure enough, when we hit a section where the snow was sinking us almost to our armpits we knew our forward progress was over.  We packed down a small patch of snow and had a wonderful lunch, surrounded by glorious snow and snow-filled trees.  The summit would have to wait for another day, but everyone was thrilled to be out, frolicking in nature's gift. 

On the way down, we took a detour to Olallie Lake, since no-one was ready to leave the magical snow-covered forest until sunset.