Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 2

Today was the day that I was going to summit Omalley Peak 5100 feet.  Pat was going to accompany me through the valley and up to the point where the trail got tough and then head back to the trailhead and hike around there while I went ahead with my mission.  After crossing the valley, the first challenge was a scramble about 1000 feet over a quarter mile to a saddle that provided access to a large plain called the "football field". After Pat made it 3/4ths of the way up, I encouraged here to make it to the saddle and she could stop there.
Once at the saddle, it was about 2.5 to 3 miles to the point where the attack of the summit would begin.  It was a terrible day for mountaineering, it was overcast with a heavy wet fog and very low visibility.  We trudged on.  Pat made it all the way to the attack point. The terrain only rose a couple hundred feet at most over the couple miles.

We arrived at the attack point a little before 11 am.  I was hoping the weather would improve but it did not.  I debated for a couple minutes and decided as long as I was there, I would start the climb and see what would happen.  The higher I got the more dense the fog became.  You could only see about 50 vertical feet and maybe 100 horizontal feet.  These were perhaps the worse climbing condition I have ever encountered.  I should have turned back but I soldiered on.  Long story short, I ran into many blind routes where I had to go back and take another path because I could not see far enough ahead because of the dense fog.  I would proceed up a path looking for the high points to appear in the fog and find a route to get to that point only to see a higher point in  a different direction.  I had read some of the climbing logs that warmed of the several false spire summits surrounding Omalley so I did not want to fall into that trap.

As it turns out, I think I did exactly that.  In the fog, I think I actually passed Omalley and climbed one of the false summit spires to its West.  After arriving at the tenuous perch at its top, the weather cleared just long enough for me to look across and see some rocks poking out of the fog/clouds that appeared to be 50 to 100 feet higher than I was.  I can only assume that it was Omalley.  It was not clear enough to do a 360 degree sweep to see what else was up there or actually get a good fix on my position.

I rested for a couple minutes and had something to eat and the fog/clouds started getting heavier.  I made 5000 feet so it was time head down.  The rocks were wetter and it got very dicey on the way down.  I slipped on a large rock incline and slid about 20 feet.  I was lucky and only got a scraped up arm and leg before I arrested my fall.  Someone was reminding me that I should not be climbing in that weather.

I got back to where Pat was waiting for me and we hiked the 3+ miles back to the trailhead without incident.

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