Sunday, December 20, 2009

ELKHORN MOUNTAIN

At 6,365 feet, Elkhorn Mountain has no established trails, although it is reachable from two different trails that wind past its base on different sides. There are two reasonable approaches, offering magnificent views near the top. Reaching the summit itself requires a YDS Class 4 climb, and is not recommended without proper safety equipment.

From the Willow Creek Trail head, you can take either the Willow Creek Rushmore Trail and approach Elkhorn up the northern side, or you can follow the Sylvan Lake/Harney Peak Trail 9 and approach from the southern side (pictured here). Once you're near the base, you'll have bushwhack from either approach. The northern side offers a more straightforward route, until you reach the ridges near the top. From the southern approach, follow Trail 9 until it winds its way about half-way up the saddle of Elkhorn. The trail meanders through beautiful granite spires, making this the more scenic of the 2 routes. Once you're about 2/3rds of the way up the side on the trail, you'll have to head North off the trail, bushwhacking your way along the base of huge granite sills until you reach one of several chutes providing access to the South ridge line near the top. Prepare for a Class 3 or 4 scramble, depending on which chute you choose. Once you're over this, you can work your way to the summit approach from the northern side. (YDS Class 4)

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