11.9Mi/6:10:41/3,724ft/Plus one 400lb boulder
Like 80% of my days off this summer/fall, the forecast called for rain showers. That means I wake up, make coffee, go back and forth from the computer to the window, and wait for the sky to reveal itself. It didn't look so bad!
|OK, I'm used to seeing this by now.|
Hidden Peak is connected to O'Malley via a ridgeline, and many a time at the O'Malley summit I have entertained the thought of continuing toward Hidden. But every time, it just looked too dang far to be bothered. Hmmph! So today I reasoned I would cut O'Malley out of the picture, and go straight up to Hidden Peak from the aptly named Hidden Lake just below.
The trail to Hidden lake is several miles from the Glen Alps parking lot, and as I left the car and started walking, I knew it was gonna be a windy one. And indeed it was proving to be! I donned windpants and shell after the first few minutes, and kept them on all the way to Hidden Lake.
|The trail to Hidden Lake.|
|Stream crossing on the way.|
|Heading up soggy scree.|
At the summit, the wind was actually starting to calm down a bit, but that's a relative term and it was still quite strong. In the distance, I saw fresh snow on both Mt. Williwaw and The Ramp, as well as a few rays of sun! This got my attention, and then I had an idea - I'll go get some sun, and finally connect to The Ramp on this ridge!
|At the summit of Hidden Peak, looking toward O'Malley.|
|At the summit, looking toward Mt. Williwaw and its Big 'Ol Buttress.|
|Get Hard. Get Wear.|
|OK maybe climbing mountains isn't as serious as the last picture makes it look.|
|The Ramp with snow.|
I knew that this ridge was pretty serious. I just didn't know HOW serious. There is little intel to be found on it, at least none that I could ever find, and the one attempt I had made on it two years ago made me hesitate. Surely it couldn't be that bad? Could it?
Well, I was starting on a different side this time. Instead of trying to cross from The Ramp to Hidden Peak, I was doing the opposite. And things were going alright! For a while...
|Traveling on the ridge, look back toward Hidden Peak (right) and O'Malley (left)|
|Look back toward Hidden again. What a monstrous block of crud!|
|Typical saturated crud.|
As it continued, these go-arounds got gnarlier and gnarlier, until it was difficult to tell if it would be better to stay on the ridge and contend with steep rock, or step off the ridge and deal with near vertical moss chutes. It was at about this point, even though I was going slow and carefully, that I had a confidence shattering mishap.
I was starting up one of many mossy go arounds, and decided I didn't like the route I was on, so I opted to try and head to the neighboring one. No problem - step to the side, get a hold on this large boulder, and the-...
The boulder moved.
I felt a heart stopping moment as it moved, and continued to move, coming toward me, barely touching my shoe and wind pants, and then continuing down on its chaotic path of moss destruction, plummeting a thousand feet or more below. It must've weighed at least 300lbs.
|This wasn't good. The boulder fall incident happened somewhere on the left (out of frame)|
Even though I was bailing off the ridge, it still wasn't easy getting down. The line of sight is deceptive, and there are many dropoffs that look fine until you're right up on them. This slowed me up quite a bit, but I heaved a sigh of relief once I was off the super crud.
Things were certainly a bit more pleasant down here, so I decided to have a nice leisurely walk back to the car, snapping photos as I went, reflecting on my incident. I felt pretty lucky to have escaped as neatly as I did, with hardly a scratch. I suppose that this is what happens when you mess around in loose rock, time and time again - eventually, you will make one fall. Maybe a big one. I knew it, but now I've seen it demonstrated right in front of me.
|Stream running down from Hidden Lake.|
|More stream action. The Ramp/ridge in background left.|
|More stream and foliage. The Ramp and ridge still lurking in the background.|