Marathon County Highpoint Trip Report

Rib Mtn (1,924 ft)

Date: January 13, 2007
Author: John Hasch

an attempt

From Madison, it was straight north on interstate highway for about 140 miles. I made great time because there were no stops and a swift traffic flow. I arrived in Wausau, home of Rib Mountain State Park, almost precisely 2 hours later, at 5:16 pm.

In northern Wisconsin, winter days do not last long due to the higher northern latitudes. Locally, the time was 4:16 pm but it was already evident that darkness was setting in and would be here soon. I followed the directions to the park entrance. The mountain is easy to find because it sits immediately west of and adjacent to the interstate highway. Rib Mountain is perhaps the most prominent mountain in northern Wisconsin due to a prominence of about 700 feet. A large skiing area is located on the slopes of the mountain and it can be seen at nighttime from miles away because all the slopes are lighted.

I climbed the mountain road and passed through an open admission gate. There was no attendant present at this late hour of the day. At the top was a large observation deck on the north side of the summit road and I parked in the lot at the summit. It was cold, but extremely still at the summit. Nearing dusk, I intended to hurry this visit and be on my way. From my car, I hiked about 100 steps up about 20 feet to the base of a rock pile that marked the summit. Actually, this was a large rock pile that added about 35 feet from ground level. The pile consisted of large boulders and it had been climbed many times based on the graffiti present all over the rocks.

I began climbing the rock pile on a path I found among the boulders. However, a little over half way up, I got concerned about the awkward footing that existed due to snow and ice covering most of the rocks. I thus aborted my effort about 15 feet from the top as I was only wearing tennis shoes that were quite slippery. I consider this a "bagging" though because rock climbing is not on my resume - this was actually more technical than I would attempt in a more-risky situation.

Rib Mountain is listed at 1,924 feet. By my estimates, the parking lot was at about 1,869 feet and the base of the rock pile was 1,889 feet. Reaching the peak of the rocks would make my total gain about 55 feet (40 feet to the end of my summit attempt). The base of the tower sat at about 1,894 feet, and the tower top was about 1,956 feet. The elevation at the park entrance sign was estimated to be about 1,209 feet making the mountain about 715 tall by my estimates.

I descended about 125 steps from the base of the tower back to the car. At 5:57 pm, I left Rib Mountain, and stopped near the base for a couple minutes to read the map directions to the Timmís Hill/Rib Lake region. On the road again, I began to look around for a reasonable motel where I would stay the night. Wausau had cell phone service and I intended to call home since I was not sure what kind of cell reception would be encountered farther north.