Mount Arrowsmith traverse (West Ridge to South Summit descending the Unjudges Route)

October 7th, 2023

~ submitted by Greg Deabler

A perfect weather day with unseasonable warm temps for mid October.  After dropping a vehicle at the unjudges route trailhead we headed up the road to the climber’s trailhead and got started about 9am. 

A bit of a bushwack to get to the start of the west ridge buttresses to start.  The route is a series of plateaus connected by steepish rock faces.  You can’t really escape some 4th class moves and the rating is accurate in Phillip Stone’s book.  That said, there were typically multiple ways to gain elevation on the climbs.  We gained the top of Brugger’s gulley around noon, and dropped down the drainage before traversing up and across to join the judges route. 

There is a nice ridge and ledge system as an alternative to the treed gulley coming out of the drainage, but it looked somewhat wet today on the traverse so we opted for the safer option of the gulley.  Arrowsmith summit was close to ‘Hamlet’ status for population, so after a quick look at the magnificent views, we continued on toward the south summit to find a lunch spot away from the busyness of the main summit.  It was hard to get going right after lunch but we prevailed, picked our way down the headwall leading up to the south col, and started down the mountain, roughly following past tracks but also just finding the line of least resistance and trusting that we would pick up the ‘trail’ eventually. 

Coming down in the heat of the afternoon belied the fact of a mid-October timeline, and we were glad that Ric’s truck was in the shade.  We were back at the vehicle by 4 pm, which made for moving time of about 6.5 hours.  Approx distance was 8k and elevation gain was just over 1000m.  

This was the first time that any of us had done this full traverse, and it is definitely a classic Arrowsmith route.  I appreciated the obvious preparation that Becky’s mountain courses and past scrambling experience had given her for this rather sustained mid to high end scramble.  I also appreciated the long, long arm of Ric’s obvious extensive experience on difficult terrain. 

All in all it was superlative day with great folks, and a trip I would do anytime conditions and the body let me :),  even at the price of more than a bit of stiffness the next day.

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