Stillwater County High Point Trip Report

Mount Wood (12,649 ft)

Dates: July 21-22, 2003
Author: Tim Worth

I used this as a test piece for Mount Cleveland later in the summer. It's nearly as exhausting. I used a north approach from Benbow Mine. Passenger cars must park at the mine shaft at 8,400 feet but a 4WD vehicle could make it possibly to 9,000 feet. The route switchbacks up the 4WD road to the "Golf Course" and then dips down before heading up to the huge Stillwater Plateau. The trail peters out shortly after reaching the wilderness boundary. As darkness fell, I found a nice place to camp at the foot of a snow field, at 10,600 feet.

I consumed 4 hours, 5 miles and 2,200 feet of gain to this point.

Next day started at 6:30 AM and headed south on the plateau. After 3 miles, I arrived just below the 11,100-foot saddle between Wood and the plateau. With its deep gashes and crumbling towers, the northwest ridge is clearly a technical undertaking. From the saddle I dropped down south of the ridge and tried to cut diagonally southeast across a series of gullies, directly towards the peak, but this got very cliffy and I was forced to drop far down to about 10,200 feet, east of Wood Lake. I then began ascending the west side, going up various gullies and cutting to the right (south) whenever possible so as to avoid UN 12,330. The last 400-foot section on the west side below the summit was very steep and I had to bail out to the south, then go north-northeast to the west summit.

Wood's second summit was 1/3 mile east (drop about 200 feet) and had a small register with one entry each of the last 4 years. The register mentioned a party had determined by use of makeshift transit that this east summit was higher than the west summit.

On the descent I went directly down the crumbly west face (much easier than the way up) aiming for the 10,250 spot elevation. The climb 800-900 feet back up to the plateau was exhausting. Finally back to my camp and packed all the way back to the car, totally wiped out.

I consumed 15 miles, 13 hours and about 4,200 feet of gain for the day.

Climb was class 3 on cruddy rock, with some potentially-avoidable class 4 stuff above 12,000 feet. The net elevation gain for this hike is only 4,200 feet but the actual gain is 6,400+ feet, as you have to drop and regain 800-900 feet to get to the west face from the plateau, and also drop and regain 200 feet south of the Golf Course.

Totals: 16 hours of hiking, about 21 miles.