Mountain Loop Highway looked to have been free of snow for quite some time this season. The stretch from Barlow Pass to road 49 and to the trailhead were full of potholes in many places. No other cars when we arrived at the trailhead, which was somewhat expected since the mountain doesn’t get a whole of visit each year. Since the area hadn’t had much snowfall in the past week, we decided to leave snowshoes at the car.
Lost Ridge Trail was in great conditions with some down trees to get around. There wasn’t much elevation gain for the first half mile, then it pretty much shot straight up all the way to Bingley Gap with lots of switchbacks. Snow started to appear past the Gap, and soon the trail was completely buried underneath. We contoured around south side of the ridge until we broke out of the trees, where we started route finding and scrambling.
Two climbing parties were here last week, and we follow one of their boot tracks to the first pass where our destination came into full view. From there we got around two more ridge knobs by staying on the south side and then headed northerly to reach Sunup Lake. The lake was so tiny that it was hard to make out exactly which part of the snow-covered area was the lake itself.
Judging by the old tracks from the lake, it was pretty clear which route we needed to take to reach the summit. The west face below the summit’s south ridge was somewhat steep and with ice in some places. But the overall snow conditions were good, and we were able to make solid steps across the slope. The slope itself was a great vantage point to check out Round Lake nestled at the bottom.
Yet another peak with amazing views to finish off another laborious climb. Along the way we had glimpses and views of nearby mountains and peaks and the anticipation continued to build up. Seeing Mount Pugh, Sloan Peak, Bedal Peak, Glacier Peak and other beautiful mountains on top was just beyond words. It was a bit windy but we managed to stay longer to savor the views before heading back down.