Last time we did wonderland was for Sally’s birthday – a year ago last october. So, nearly sixteen months to the day, time came to do it again. Full Mitten style – winter ascent.
It was cold today – never out of the teens. The sun was warm, but it felt like mid winter for sure.
We parked on dugway and went up the regular trail to the cliff then did the gully along syz. The gully was ice and snow and we did it in technical boots and crampons with a gully axe each. The price of a slip was great enough that we roped and belayed it in three pitches. We got to the top, put the snow shoes back on and pressed on to the summit.
We found dog tracks all though the woods and as we approached the top of WoodChuck we found ourselves looking at what seemed to be a dog park – or at least the prints you would find in a dog park this time of year. You could see where they slept, bed down and melted little depressions – and many print and tracks. So many, and so fresh, we were assured they were watching us move through their domain. And as if Hollywood scripted it, a shriek rings out and I turn to watch a peregrine falcon below my eye line fly into a hidden nest on the main cliff below me. Wow.
Great views. It was nice to look up at haystack having done that just a couple of weeks ago. Last time I was there I was thinking we needed to do that someday.
Winter is the time to travel this country. The lack of leaves, heat, bugs etc.. and with a solid snow pack and some high-tech snow shoes, you can go almost anywhere.
We did our lap. I debated making a couple of rappels down the way we came, but opted for the longer run down the southern arm past split rock and then loop back north to rejoin the path we took in. It was a long walk.
I have done this route before. Once. It’s still fun though – to do a five mile loop off trail without looking at a map, compass or GPS and end up landing back on your inbound tracks just as the sun is dropping below the horizon.