Mount Pugh

|| By the Numbers ||

Trip Duration: 6 hours car-to-car

Stats: 8.7 miles, 4,000′ vertical ascent

Caltopo/GPX: https://caltopo.com/m/UV08

The Team: Tyler Jaszkowiak, myself

|| Pre-Trip ||

Tyler and I had attempted Sloan Peak the day before, and camped out in my HOTELement near the Mt. Pugh trailhead the night before. Our plan was to go for a hike/run on Mt. Pugh via its NW ridge, which in the summer is a Class 2 scramble along a marked climber’s trail. We knew from the day before that Pugh was going to be snow covered, so we again brought along our snowshoes and planned for a cold day. We set our alarms for 4 AM to begin hiking by 5 AM, hoping to avoid weather that appeared to be forecasted for the afternoon.

|| Trip Report ||

The Mt. Pugh climbers trail is quite calm and pleasant up to Stujack Pass…not much to say other than beautiful old growth, gradual switchbacks, and a stunning hanging lake. We encountered snow just below the end of tree cover, around 5,000′ or so.

Snow begins around 4,500′
Our route up to Stujack Pass

We threw on snowshoes once the snow started in earnest; even though the snow was firm, it was wet and sloppy, and the snowshoes provided good traction. Climbing up towards Stujack Pass, we switched back across a large, old avalanche debris path. The snow was messy and slid underneath our feet; my gloves became SOAKING wet, as I slipped and postholed into the snow.

Once we reached Stujack Pass, the wind began to HOWL. We could see the low-hanging clouds above us racing past, a sign of a storm system rolling in quickly. We transitioned out of our snowshoes and donned our ice axes, as we began the ridge.

We swam through the wet snow on the ridge, postholing up to our knees. With the wind howling, and our running tights soaking wet, we were getting cold. Our decision for the day was all but sealed when we crested a small pinnacle along the ridge and gained this view.

Still a good ways from the top

We had got our morning exercise in…with hours of postholing ahead, and a CLEAR storm rolling in fast, it was silly to go forward any longer. We turned around and raced back to the car, getting a fun trail run in and some good vertical training for more epic days later in the season.

A visual of where we turned around.

|| Final Thoughts ||

  • Did we summit…no. But did we have fun…YES. Mission accomplished.
  • Pugh is definitely better done in the summer, in my opinion, when you can scramble along the ridge. Wallowing in deep snow along corniced ridgeline seems both unnecessary and somewhat precarious.
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