This bluebird week gave lots of incentive to explore some more. This loop is absolutely fantastic above the 800 m elevation. However, one has to also do the 2 lower 800 m legs, which will not make this a popular route. The route I took goes up the N ridge of Newman, tops out at the HSCT a bit south of the Unnecessary crossroads, heads south to St Marks, and returns down the S ridge of Newman. The loop is perfect in that not one single step is crossed.
A GE view from the west
I started on the N side park spot of Newman, there is a trail there, once you reach the waterfall, that heads up a steep ridge and reaches the old logging road at about 400m. This trail is very well laid out, on a rough and difficult ridge. It may have been put in by a loner, as there is a small campsite about half way up. I think I am the only one using it these days, as it was useful to get to the trail head of the Mountain Abyss Traverse. The trailhead is on that logging road which is part of the far southerly edge of the Erin Moore trail.
Once on the old road, follow an immediate RH hairpin, cut off a LH hairpin by scrambling up a washout (flagged), continue around a second RH mossy hairpin and continue up past the trailhead and up to the Erin Moore. Back up 20 m, head up and south on a tributary road that is quite grown over. Shortly will see a boulder slope, head up to upper end. Great views from my first stop.
Curl around cliffs to the left, past this guy.
Pick up the flagging to get past the next cliff band, finding a flat field of dense trees. The flagging gets one past these small cliff and heavy woods areas.
Head up the draw directly in front, also with spaced flagging until you get to an open mossy landing. Some views on the side. Found snow at 750m.
From here, you are on the ridge, head up. There are a few obstacles, I will let future hikers enjoy the decision making process on which way to go around.
A beard longer than the urban ones.
There is a fantastic view point at about 1250m on a small down-sloping dead end spur.
The top out is lots of fun, getting up to 50 deg or so. Exposure is high, but the conditions were perfect for me.
Once on the ridge, a quick look around, no others in the area other than about a half dozen sun-baked touring tracks. Most of the HSCT markers are still under snow. Got a nice view of the Lions while heading back up St Marks.
I found my entry point to the St Marks west ridge and went up top to see it. Arrow is the large scree slope that this route started on. The route is directly on the snow in plain sight.
After coming around under the top cliffs, St Marks really shows its steepness.
A few more steps, and the view down is spectacular. The snow looked so smooth and steep and continuous, but it is also a huge debris chute.
I think great pics can be taken to show the real perspectives of this narrow spine, but this is the one I have.
I came across these tracks near the top of the ridge. The owner of the paws went into a large tree one step further, I saw the tracks 20m below for another short distance. Any idea what it was?
Going down is much more challenging for navigation. I was here only a few weeks ago and still had some misdirection moments. Just before ducking into the heavy trees, got one more view.
So it took me 4.5 up, 2 across, and 3 hours down. I think a stronger party can do this in 8 or less hours. Here is another GE view that I really like.