RT Length: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 3409’
Time: 6.5 hours
I’ve been excited to head to the Mosquito Creek/Pass area since I was here last month. I’d avoided the area in the winter in years past, thinking it would be closed, but the 2WD dirt road in is actually plowed quite a ways.
In fact, it’s plowed at least past the turnoff to Mosquito Pass, which is where I parked.
I started on the trail at 5:30am, wearing my snowshoes. I kept them on all day even though they were overkill at times. The 4WD road was impassible in a vehicle, with the conditions ranging from bare dirt to ice and drifts with several feet of snow.
I followed the road, making fresh tracks as I went
Passing the London Mill
And hiking along the road for a few more yards until I reached the junction of 12 and 856. Here I turned left (west) and followed the snow covered dirt road
The road was covered in drifted snow and difficult to walk in, even with snowshoes. Around this time the ptarmigans began to wake up and the sun started to rise. I could see the white birds flying against the pink landscape and thought to myself how lucky I was to be here right now.
I continued following the road around London Mountain towards the North London Mine
From the mine is where things got a bit tricky, as the road I was supposed to take was covered in snow.
It didn’t start out difficult, but about a quarter of the way to the London/Kuss saddle I switched my trekking pole for my ice axe. The path felt similar to the alleyway on Kit Carson and I was glad I was wearing my snowshoes: a lot of the snow was consolidated but every few steps I’d sink up to my knees in an unexpected drift.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally made it to the saddle. From here it was a straightforward hike up the ridge.
I kept my snowshoes on, and they became helpful towards the end
Cool findings at the top
Also, it was windy
Making this a loop, next I was headed for Mosquito Peak. There were cornices the entire way, but sticking to the ridge it was easy to avoid any danger. Snowshoes here were overkill but I was too lazy to take them off.
Looking back up at Kuss Peak
And up the ridge to Mosquito Peak
Snowshoes were helpful once again for the final push to the summit
I was anxious to finish this ridge loop before the wind picked up this afternoon so I didn’t stay long on the summit of Mosquito Peak. I turned towards Treasurevault Mountain and immediately slipped on the soft scree/snow mix, landing on my knee. Wonderful. I could tell before I even hit the ground it was going to hurt, but picked myself up right away and headed down the side of the mountain, more careful now, realizing the snow was sugary atop loose scree and talus.
At the Mosquito/Treasurevault saddle I saw a bunch of mining equipment, which I thought was pretty neat for 13K+.
Here’s looking back up at the scree/snow that is the ridge down from Mosquito Peak
And a look up the ridge to Treasurevault Mountain. All three of these peaks had similar ridges to their summits. Snowshoes were nice.
There weren’t any rocks to set up my camera on and my trekking pole was tied to my backpack so I just set it up on the snow for a picture. Not the best, but it gets the point across.
Completing the loop turned into a really long ridge hike from Treasurevault over to Mt Tweto, which felt more like 2 ridge hikes
The cornices were fun to look at along the way
Just before the saddle with Mt Tweto the wind really began to pick up. I’d considered re-summiting Mt Tweto again today, but with the increased winds thought it would be best to just head back. I’m kind of kicking myself for that decision now…
There was a lot less snow here today than there had been last month. Here’s the route back into the basin
And back up towards the saddle for Mt Tweto
Hiking out of the basin I aimed for the trail I’d hiked on the way in, making this upper part a loop
The snow here was sugary and I kept sinking to my knees while wearing snowshoes. Here’s another view of the route I’d taken up to the London Mine. On my way out I was just headed back towards the road, as all the 4WD roads in the area were covered with snow and I couldn’t find them.
Here’s a look back at my trek out of the basin
I followed the snow packed 4WD road back out
And just before making it to the road noticed a recent (and small) avalanche slide.
I made it back to my truck at noon, just as it was starting to get really gloomy out. It felt like snow was approaching.
This was a really fun and easy winter hike. I look forward to exploring more of the area this winter, but will most likely do so from the South London Mine side next time.