Friday, July 31, 2009

Dungarvan

Height: 8,419 ft
View-o-meter: 4/5
Scrambling Difficulty: Difficult
Total Trip Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Best Feature: Real peaks are only 3 feet wide!
Worst Part: A bit of a grunt to approach





Dungarvan sits along the ridge line running north of the Red Rock canyon highway. While the peak doesn't look particularly noteworthy from the ground, this is probably one of the harder scrambling routes the park has.


The string of mountains along the Red Rock Canyon road as seen from Anderson

Like most of the peaks on this ridge, Dungarvan has three main approaches: 1) from the Red Rock road up the Lost Horse drainage, 2) from Oil Basin to the north, 3) from the ridge that runs from Galwey or from Cloudy Ridge. While the Oil basin route is probably the easiest, the southwest branch of the west rib ascended from Lost Horse Creek on the Red Rock highway makes for a nice outing with minimal deadfall. Time on the ridge is paid for with a bit of up and down.

Park at the Lost Horse Creek Picnic area. Head up the open slopes on the left (west) of the creek. It takes a couple of km of walking on easy terrain to gain the ridge.


As hard as the going gets before things open up again

The ridge makes for fairly pleasant walking,



The ridge ends in an intimidating arete. Avoid these substantial difficulties by traversing to the right to the first prominent gully (with the left facing corner visible in the right of this picture) or to the second gully (just out of sight of this picture). The first gully has some very easy 3rd class terrain on solid ledges while the next gully is even easier but involves more talus.



After this you will need to break through the fossil algae band. There are a few weakness that shouldn't present too much difficulty to experienced mountaineers (4th class terrain for 15 or 20 feet). If you are new to scrambling this wouldn't be a great spot to test our your climbing skills - although the landings are certainly better than the crux section of Galwey and other similar peaks.



After the fossil algae there is a bit more easy scrambling (easy 3rd class) to reach the minor unamed peak which sits west of Dungarvan. This would be a convenient spot from which to head up Cloudy Ridge. To get to Dungarvan you will need to pick your way down some red argillite bands to the right (3rd class if done correctly) and ascend another slope to gain Dungarvan's summit tower. When in doubt cut back right on your descent.



Heading up to Dungarvan, pick a way through the upper band of red argillite. I traversed under it until the last weakness before the actual summit. Things are much easier than they look. A bit of a traverse on the black purcell lava leads to the narrow, exposed summit ridge (exposed 3rd class with consequences for the easiest path). The summit is quite spectacular and has a few brass survey markers from 1924. I suspect most people will feel pretty nervous with the exposure gaining the summit. The rock is blocky, but solid and you never actually have to do any climbing (at least from the West). It feels similar to the 1st knife edge ridge on Crandell.


From the summit looking back. You are actually looking at the middle tower which you don't have to ascend - although it does give you a feel for what the third tower and actual summit is like. The easiest ascent line heads up the right hand side (looking back - ie climber's left) of the near tower which dips down towards the middle tower visible in the center of the shot.

There are a number of options for the descent. Traversing over towards Galwey makes a nice loop, but does require a fair bit of extra scrambling. You also have to do a fair bit of work to pick your way through two bands of fossil algae to gain the next saddle. Stick to the arete fairly closely to find the 3rd/4th class gullies through the fossil algae.

Descending down to the valley is also possible. A recent flood has opened up the river bottom to make a few kilometers of easy walking. However you will need to do some side hilling and bushwacking until you reach the river's second fork (counting from the picnic area upstream). If you are lucky you'll find a very good game trail which starts near the open grasses by the first fork. However it is easy to loose and still requires walking through a bit of deadfall.


You don't get to see too much of this view as you walk out the bottom

Other Route Descriptions
Nugara's Scrambles - a great set of route descriptions and photos via the lost horse drainage on Dungarvan's south (central) rib.

Yantski's Some very nice pictures of Dungarvan, cloudy ridge and Spionkop from the east, but no route descriptions.

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2 Comments:

At 8/06/2009 10:45:00 PM , Blogger sigob said...

Just a note that the route described would also make a very nice way to get up Cloudy Ridge.

 
At 8/06/2009 10:49:00 PM , Blogger sigob said...

A few years ago my dad and brother were heading up Dungarvan from Oil Basin. They got near the summit pyramid but figured the slippery lichen colored rock wasn't the wisest thing to climb. I gather my brother looked down the gully they were ascending and figured a fall wouldn't be too forgiving.

They decided to wait out a thunder storm. My brother sat on the foam in his pack and sat down to minimize the chance of a lightening strike. My dad laughed at this figuring he was a bit soft. A strike hit the mountain above and induced a fairly strong current below. I gather my dad jumped a bit and felt a fair bit of a burn on his old mercury fillings.

They didn't make the peak, but I guess each got a laugh out of the other. Revenge - when mild is sweet, or at least makes for good stories.

 

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