Peak(s):  Venable Pk  -  13,334 feet
Date Posted:  11/08/2021
Date Climbed:   11/05/2021
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Venable Trailhead   

Venable Peak – 13,334- Attempt


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RT Length: 11.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3921’


I made it to the trailhead late the night before, and slept in the cab of my truck. Well, I tried to sleep. Unfortunately, there was internet access at this trailhead. This meant I was scrolling through my phone until 1 in the morning. I hit the snooze button three times before waking up to dawn approaching. I threw on my gear, waved at the hunter who just pulled up in the parking area, and was on the trail at 7am. This morning I was taking the Venable Trail, which is clearly marked from the parking area.


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I followed the trail as it crossed over a bridge


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After hiking for half a mile, I came to a junction with the Rainbow Trail, and continued straight, following the Venable Trail (1347).


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Just after this junction there was a trail register. I signed it, and continued following the Venable Trail southwest


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This is a class 1 trail. Today’s conditions varied, from being covered with ice, to being bare dirt, to several inches of snow.


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After hiking for 2.5 miles, I came to the junction for Venable Falls. Here I continued straight on the trail, towards Venable Lakes


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The trail increasingly became more snow covered, but no traction was necessary. Of course, most of the snow present was directly on the trail. This is where I was headed


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I rounded this hill (lower Venable Lake is to the right)


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And after 5 miles of hiking, I made it to the lower Venable Lake


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I kept following the trail


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After hiking a total of 5.5 miles I came to what I assumed was a junction (it was covered in snow and the sign was missing: only a post remained). I turned left and took Comanche Trail (1345) towards the pass.


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I now had a good view of the rest of my route to the pass


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More and more snow started accumulating on the trail. It was sugary, so I put on my microspikes. I had snowshoes, but the snow was so sugary they wouldn’t have made much of a difference.


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It was slow going, and I had to spend a lot of time making a solid path in some areas through the snow, doing my best to hug the cliff, not entirely sure how wide the trail was. I was doing find until I got to this area:


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I was about 200 feet from the pass, and the snow drifts were now taller than I was. I kept seeing snow slide down below my feet, over the cliffs, and made the decision to turn back. It hurt to turn back, but I knew it was for a good reason: I’m out here solo, and while I might have made it past the snow/cornice to the pass, I couldn’t have done so safely, and a fall would have been fatal. The red arrow is where I turned around. You can see the tracks where I stopped


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Just for reference, I was able to summit this peak via the Comanche trail the next day. Here’s what the pass looked like from above


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And look at how close I’d been to the summit of Venable!


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For those of you interested in taking this route, this is how I summited Venable the next day. I took the solid line up, the dotted line down. Both were class 2 (although the ridge had quite a bit of snow)


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However, I wasn’t summiting today. Instead, I turned around and hiked the 6 miles back to the trailhead.


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On my way out I made plans to hike Venable and Spring from the Comanche Trail the next morning. Added bonus: I didn’t have to drive to another trailhead, since the Venable and Comanche Trailheads share a parking lot. I made it back to my truck at 12:30pm, which gave me plenty of time to read, drink whiskey, talk to hunters, and get some rest before tomorrow’s attempt.


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Here’s a topo map from today’s attempt, and another along with the route I took the next day


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You can find my successful Venable trip report here




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
docjohn
Phantom Terrace
11/08/2021 19:41
The trail section where you stopped (smart, very smart move) is called the Phantom Terrace. I first walked it to Comanche and Venable Pks in1965 from Abbots Lodge. Even dry it is somewhat scary. Go back and hike it dry conditions, it is a classic.


Jeff A
P.T. +1
11/08/2021 20:15
Good idea to turn around. As docjohn said, Phantom terrace is unforgiving in bad conditions without the correct equipment. I crossed it on a fall day where the wind was blowing very hard and it spooked me. I hugged the wall for sure. And like you said, there is an easy walk up from Commanche so why risk it? On a nice weather day the Phantom Terrace is a really fun hike.


jrbren_vt
User
Another excellent trip report(s)
11/09/2021 12:33
I did this loop including the 3 peaks back in mid-August, when there was no snow to contend with. I went up the Comanche side and down the Venable side. I found the Phantom Terrace sketchy in a couple of spots even with no ice or snow. These spots had rather crumbly rock right near/over a big drop off. It looks as if that is all under snow now. I am very impressed you could do what for me would be a big day (~12 miles and 3900+ vertical), then get up the next morning and do an even bigger day. Very impressive !



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