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|Weather||sunny and hot|
|TrailConditions||good at low alt. bad at high alt.|
|Mailed to WacList|| |
P3 Trip Report: |
Iíve been working my way through the list of summits along the I-90 corridor. Putrid Petís Peak, a.k.a. P3 looked like an interesting target. SummitPost describes the upper 1500í as a class three scramble. It turned out to be one of the hardest climbs I've done in a long time, especially the descent. The summit is 5,200' but at about 3,900' the trail peters out and you just go straight up the clever to the summit on a 45 degree slope with not such good footing. It took a lot out of me. I reached the summit at 1:15pm. I found the summit registry inside a plastic box under a rock at the very top of the mountain. I left my business card in the box for posterity. At 3,900í where the trail faded away I traded my sun hat for my climbing helmet. That was a good move and I didnít take the helmet off again until I got back to the car.
Heading down turned out to be the really hard part. On the way down I could not find the trail again and so just kept going straight down. Again at about 3,900' I entered the trees (above that was open meadow). I could not find any trail so just pushed through the trees with lots of interlocking branches, very unpleasant. Iíve got a lot of scratches on my arms and legs to show for it. At about 3,500' I realized I was coming down a winter avalanche slew meaning no large trees, just small trees and brush in full roasting sun. I moved to my left out of the slew and under tree cover. Here the trees were larger so there were not so many ground-level branches. The going was a little less unpleasant but still a 45 degree slope. I slipped and fell at least six times, each time sliding about ten feet down the slope before I could stop myself. Sliding on layers of dead fur-tree needles is no fun. After about 90 minutes of this hard descent I finally crossed the trail at 2,600' (I knew I would eventually hit the trail because it made a lot of long switchbacks in the lower elevations). The first switchback I hit was descending to my right meaning away from the car. I could follow it but it would have taking me a long way from the car without much vertical change. So I decided to skip that and continue heading straight down off trail. Exactly 100' vertical feet lower I hit the other leg of the switch back heading towards the car. Finally I had an easy walk to the car. It was the most difficult descent I have ever done, even more than Mt Rainer. I had to stop many times for deep breathing rest breaks. I consumed about two liters of water by the time I got back to the car. I have to admit I never want to do a descent like that again. I should have taken a set of wands to mark the way back to the trail or even kite string to pay out from the top of the trail to the summit.
I was really glad I remembered to take my altimeter. That way I knew I had not descended below the car (parking lot at 2,200'). Without the altimeter I would have been worried that if I somehow missed the trail then I might descend all the way to the bottom at the I-90 freeway. That would have left me with an eight mile walk to the car.
The summit was fantastic. The summit has a 45 degree slope up the south side and a 150' absolutely vertical drop-off on the north side that begins right at the exact summit. The guide book warns about that. I lay on the summit rock and looked straight down cliff. Even though there was a good 30 cars in the parking lot when I got back I never saw single other hiker on P3. Most people at this trailhead go to Bandera or the lakes. If you want to climb a lonely mountain near I-90 try P3.
Iíve uploaded my photos to Facebook.