Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dinosaur Mountain

Laurel and I parked at NCAR and started towards the Mallory Cave trail, as we did 10 days ago. At that time the goal was to reach the Square and Babyhorn rocks -- an easy 2-mile round trip; today we continued past our previous turn around point up the steepening trail. Following the guidance of Gerry Roach's Flatirons Classics, our objective was to worm our way through the tiers of rock scattered on Dinosaur Mountain to its summit.

Not far into the hike a huge snake crossed the path between us. Either I unknowingly stepped right over it or it hadn't yet entered the path when I crossed. Laurel cried "S-S-S-NAKE!!!" and made a mighty leap back 20' off the trail. We let it slither through the grass before continuing on.

Shortly after hiking around behind Der Zerkle we left the main Mallory Cave trail and started up the even steeper climbers' access trail. It brought us to a junction where the trail broke left and right. We arbitrarily chose the right branch which led under the summit of another rock. The trail faded but there looked to be good scrambling around the northeast side of this rock.

We found an exposed traverse to the east face of the rock and attained a sub-summit perhaps 20' below the true summit. Those last 20' looked like a bad idea in sneakers with no rope so we were content to look out over Boulder from this perch.

summit of The Box

From the pictures and description in the Roach book we discovered we were sitting on a rock called The Box. To the west were Fi, Fo, Fum, and Dum, forming the third tier of north-south ridges of rock. Knowing our exact position helped, since the book described a scramble over the third tier just west of The Box.

Fi and Fo


Before attempting that scramble, however, we checked out the west-side sub-summit of The Box, where I knocked my noggin pretty hard on an overhanging rock blocked by my hat's visor. The scramble up this hunk of rock was described as class 3. Perhaps if I had rock shoes on I could agree with that assessment!

The scramble through the third tier was straightforward; it brought us to a steep hunk of rock that we suspected was the summit we were looking for, but we decided to explore around its backside to be sure. Around back we discovered it wasn't the summit; we also found a neat tabletop rock perched on two others, forming a tunnel. Then through the tunnel...

Dum's tunnel

... and atop the rock, which was a gigantic surface, perfect for laying in the sun. This rock was the summit block of Dum. Lunch.

Dinosaur Mountain's summit was just another few hundred feet west, and a pretty simple scramble. From the ground we couldn't tell which rock was the actual summit. Laurel found it first while I scrambled up a northern sub-summit.

Double-exposure of Laurel summiting Dinosaur Mountain

Dan summiting Dino Mtn

Incredible exposure to the west -- the summit looked down into the huge bowl below South Green Mountain that drains into Skunk Canyon.

After a short break in the shade we hiked down the Bowling Alley to a break in Dinosaur Mountain's summit ridge. Scrambling down the west side of the ridge brought us to a steep meadow that we followed all the way down to the Bear Creek trail. Along the way we found a few antlers and a praying mantis crawled around Laurel's pants.

We got back to NCAR 4.5 hours later, completing our 4.7 mile hike. Elevation gain was around 1700'.

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