I started off on the W Fork Buttermilk trail around 5:30am after sleeping in my car. I’d been hoping to start earlier but wanted to sleep in a bit. It turns out that was a mistake due to the slightly heinous post holing the last 1.5 miles up to fish creek pass. I banged my knee up pretty badly and debated turning around but decided to adjust my time goals and keep moving forward. The entire trail was gnarly— just as the blow downs slowed down the punchy snow started! After the pass the snow was inconsequential. I bagged Star peak first and FaceTimed my partner while on the peak. I descended, treated water at Star Lake, then climbed up to Courtney Peak (my namesake!!). I decided to do the ridge line traverse to Oval Peak to avoid the worst of the snow. This slowed me down considerably since there were loose boulders that I had to test each step. The ridge line is over two miles and gets technical right at the end as the ridge cliffs out and you have to descend to the left (west) and climb around the blocks. The talus and boulders are very loose here, so take care not to dislodge any if you choose this route. I made it up to the saddle at 7:20 and started the climb up to Oval (truly almost skipped this due to the time but I figured if I could make it off the boulders before dark I’d be in good shape). I snapped a photo of the summit marker and a photo of the surrounding mountains then boulder hopped down. I was down back at the saddle at 9:30. I turned on my waist light and bushwhacked down off the ridge, took a quick 15 minute breather in my bivvy, and set off down bushwhacking toward the W Fork Buttermilk trail. I was physically pretty much incapable of running at this point and all the blow downs made it nearly impossible anyway. The walk/jog back out to the car seemed to go by quickly after all the suffering and it really was a pleasant day out there. I didn’t see a single person all day!
Oval, Star, & Courtney Peaks
21h 46m 47s