Cherry and I knew we wanted to get out last weekend but didn't plan boo until saturdary morning, much less pack. This approach kinda limits your options. I drug out the big map and started looking around wash pass because i like the 4800ft start. Mesahchie (8795) looked kinda interesting over eggs and coffee at the diner, then we wandered down to rei for a map, and right near by mesachchie on the map was black, (8970), which sounded considerably simpler to approach. As the day wore on with packing and all, it became increasingly clear that we were going to have a somewhat late start, so we started leaning toward the known.
The approach to Black begins at the South Rainy Pass trailhead. We hit the trail at well, 7:30 pm on saturday. Thanks to Richard and Lee for their cool reports of NE ridge climbs. Since Cherry's main goal was to spend the night out up high, and my main goal was to stand on top of a 100 highest, style be damned, and we've both spent a lot more time this summer holding onto mice than ATCs, we decided to leave the ropes at home and hike up the south ridge.
It's about 3 hours in, past three very pretty lakes. We made it up to heather pass (2 miles, 1 hour) at 8:30 where it was getting dark. Nice campsite. No people. No water. We'd brought one of those new-fangled butane stove thingys, and i wasn't sure we had enough fuel to melt snow for water so i performed the trip's only stupid boy trick: i went to get water from the runnoff of Lewis lake, which looked just a 1/4 mile or so away on a nice fat trail. 15 minute jog i thought.
So Cher set up camp and i took off with the water bags. Lewis lake isn't a 1/4 mile away. it's 3/4 of a mile. And the nice fat trail fizzeled down to a teency weency boot track through a big ass talus field. Loosing the trail in the dark was surprisingly easy. I finially sumbeled to the stream, filled up, and wandered back in pitch dark. Whole trip took an hour and a half and cost 4 stubbed toes and 2 very sore ankels. I came back to camp much much lower on the slope than i departed, plopped my left foot right into a small but perfectly friendly trickle of stream about 100 feet from our camp. CRAP CRAP CRAP.
Cher was in the bag sound asleep. She and a big buck dear had surprised the hell out of each other 1/2 hour before, but other that that she was cold, hungry, and getting worried.
Next day was excellent. met fishermen at lewis who looked gorged on lake trout. The south ridge may offer the easiest 8900 ft summit in the state. lots of talus and some steep scree gaining the south ridge, but basically a trail all the way to the summit pyrimid, with a couple little movey things to get to the top. only problem is that it's popular and its loose. take a hard hat. we didn't and wished we had. guide book says take an ice ax, but this time of year with the horrible snow reatreat axes are unnecessary.
we shared the summit with 6 other folks, four of whom had done the NE ridge. I asked and they agreed with Richard and Lee that it was *almost* scrableable w/o ropes, but they were glad they had gear mostly due to the loose nature of the rock. they all wore hiking boots, not rock shoes, and were happy with that choice. next time.
the views all around are stunning. the north face of goode is particulary spectacular from black. goode looks like an awesome mountin -- it's hard to see from any road that i know of.
south ridge of black is an nice, somewhat crumbly, easily accesible high scramble, probably best done on a weekday to avoid the crowds. NE ridge looks like tons of fun.