Aaron Sudduth and I decided to get this peak in early in the morning and get back home by noon. We both had obligations in the afternoon so we left early in the morning and arrived at the trailhead at 5:45. It took us 3.5 hours to make the trip. We initially had hoped to go faster, however we ran into more wintery conditions than we expected. The snow levels were pretty low, but there was 3 or 4 inches of fresh snow from the night before and I measured wind gusts of 40+ mph.
The first light of the day hit Buckskin as we began our hike.
There was enough snow on the ground to cause a little postholing, but in general it was strong enough to bear weight and generally easy to avoid anyway.
At about 12,500 we caught up with a group that had spent the night camping in the basin.
Already the winds were blowing up high and the clouds were building.
The other group as well as a solo hiker took the ridge route, however we stayed off the ridge. The ridge was being pounded by the wind so we stayed below it as long as possible. Eventually the other two parties did the same.
Not that we completely avoided the wind. My anemometer registered 35mph here.
The winds and snow made this hike much more spectacular than usual.
As we passed the false summit the clouds really began to roll in.
The solo hiker soon caught up with us on the summit. Not much a view left though. The picture exaggerates the weather though. It was windy and snowy, but it didn't take much clothes to stay warm. The temperatures were slightly above freezing.
The summit shot. Seriously I swear it's the summit. The trip back down to the false summit was interesting. Visibility was pretty low and our tracks had completely been covered by the blowing snow.
The clouds continued to thicken but not long after dropping down we got below the cloud cover.
At the Democrat-Cameron saddle the clouds broke briefly to give us some cool views.
On the way down we passed the campsite of the party we'd ascended with. They put a lot of effort into building this camp. I suspect they were practicing for a much larger hike.
The stream crossing was impossible to cross without stepping into the water a few times, but nothing bad. A decent pair of waterproof boots is all that's required.
In the center of this photo you can see Aaron's truck. That's how close we got to the Kite Lake trailhead.
The last drift that remains is 3 to 4 feet deep.(at least to the TH parking, there's alot more snow blocking the campground access still.)
As we drove home we saw that the summit cleared off, but some very large clouds were moving in. However our early start gave us the ability to get up and down long before the weather could turn on us.
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