Friday, September  22, 2023
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Mar. 20, 2023 (Mon.)
Elevations: 4736 feet, ; Order of Height: 10,
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Brian Connell
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Brian's 27th, 28th, and 29th winter 46R Peaks: Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong and Gothics.

A sunny but somewhat chilly and windy day - but with perfect snow conditions - to help Brian achieve his final winter 46R ascents of the 2022-2023 winter season - in style, on three peaks of the Great Range.

Starting off nice and early (in the dark) at the Garden Trailhead, we bare-booted over to the South-side trail and marched up to the connector trail leading up to the Wolfjaws col. Part of the way up was unbroken and required some tiring hiking. Fortunately, at the Range Trail in the col, the track was broken out (although a bit drifted over in places).

Hiking west on the Range Trail was fairly straightforward and quite fun, what with all of the steep twists and turns. The skies cleared up for our first summit of the day on Upper Wolfjaw. Fine views everywhere and lots of clean white snow.

A couple of faster hikers overtook us and nicely re-tracked the Range Trail ahead of us. The steep climb up the eastern side of Armstrong was no problem on firm, clean snow - even though the summer ladder was completely buried. The summit of Armstrong provided a jaw-dropping view of the Upper Great Range in pristine winter condition. Very cold chilly gusty wind here, though.

The hike from Armstrong to Gothics was quite easy, especially given the lack of prominence between the two. Arriving at the lower end of the open ridgeline on Gothics northeastern ridgeline, we stopped to put all of our winterwear on, as the gusts were at time rather strong and any exposed skin needed to be covered up. The climb up the open ridgeline was a sublime as you could imagine, with perfect snow and amazing expansive views everywhere.

After taking a good bevy of summit pictures and congratulating Brian on finishing his 27th, 28th, and 29th winter summits, we continued west, soon reaching the western sub-summit, where we observed the very steep descent trail and decided to do the first part in microspikes and an ice ax. It ended up being pretty easy and soon we were down in the Saddleback-Gothics col. Switched back to snowshoes and began the long, at times tedious, descent of the Orebed Brook trail down to the bottom of Johns Brook Valley.

The final hike back along the Phelps trail to the trailhed was tiring and our feet were sore, but not further difficulties meant we made good time back to the Garden trailhead, completing our outing. Not an especially fast pace: fourteen hours in total. Excellent outing, however.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2023 Upper Wolfjaw Armstrong and Gothics Loop Hike


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