Epaulet |West and East Buffalo Peak | James | Crystal
| Pacific | Atlantic
East Buffalo Peak(13,300): 7/28/01. Did these as part of a
backpacking loop along the Willow Creek and Rough & Tumble Creek. Pretty
boggy on the way to the peaks, but found a giant Big Horn Sheep skull along the
way! Unfortunately it had some maggots on it, it smelled like death, and I had
to carry it the entire next day back to the car. Yuk!
St Mary's Glacier TH. 10/19/02. Did this along with Kingston Peak as part of a
training climb for Pico de Orizaba after a day of touching up on roped glacier
travel on St Mary's Glacier.
Pacific(13,950), Atlantic Peaks(13,841): Mayflower Gulch TH. 6/28/03, 8.4 miles roundtrip, just under 8hrs total. I wanted to get up to altitude
the last w/end before heading to Mt Elbrus and
these were some not-too-far away peaks with high saddles between them that would
keep us up above 13,000ft for most of the day. Starting at the Mayflower Gulch
TH Peggy and I followed the 4x4 road east while looking for the trail leading up
Pacific drainage. We soon learned something about hiking 13ers....don't expect a
trail! After plowing through some willows and hopping a couple streams, we were
back on track and heading up the drainage. It was a beautiful area and a nice
change from a wide trail with several dozen others. We could spot out Pacific
and Atlantic after we got a bit higher, and after crossing a small ridge we
could see Crystal (the first peak to climb) in the distance. Crossing snow
fields, scree slopes and meadows, we eventually worked our way to the low point
of the saddle between Pacific and Crystal on the SW Ridge route. Not long after
we were sitting on the summit by ourselves as one other person skied down. We
could see Breckenridge since we were just west of Peak 10 and got a new
fantastic view of Quandary to the south. Next was back down the saddle and up
the steep west slope of Pacific. At times we saw a bit of a trail, but not much
and it was an awesome climb with a little hand/foot stuff right before the
summit. Took about an hour from the summit of Crystal. After a rest on the
summit it was farther south along the high saddle to the summit of Atlantic.
Once again, we were the only ones on top with no one in sight. We followed the
West Ridge route back into Mayflower Gulch to get back to the TH. The West Ridge
was really cool and at times had huge drops on either side of a narrow snow/rock
pathway. Pretty slow going since we were either post-holing in through the snow
or boulder hopping and trying to stay on our feet. All in all, a fantastic day
of hiking on some beautiful and seldom hiked 13'ers.
Spalding(13,842): Guanella Pass TH. 9/21/03, 7 miles roundtrip, 4hrs
45mins total, Gomer's Gully Class 2. Starting from Guanella Pass TH Peggy and I
walked along the "boardwalk" and through the famous Willows. After
Gomer Creek we found the trail heading Northeast towards Spalding. The trail was
frozen mud and muck most of the way and trails headed in all directions through
more willows. We tried to stay high above them but still got wet/muddy feet and
eventually got to the bottom of the steep Gomer's Gully. By the looks of it,
this would be an awesome snow climb. We climbed up higher and higher eventually
to the saddle with Evans and the Sawtooth in view ahead of us. Shortly after we
were on the large rounded summit and it was pretty windy and cold up there.
Looking down the other side we could see Summit Lake and the Mt Evans Highway.
Instead of coming down the same way we took the slightly longer, but less steep
West Slope route. It was a gentle slope and lots of grass which was easy on the
knees. We kicked around the idea of hiking up Grey Wolf Peak also, but since we
could barely feel our fingers and time was running out, we chose against it.
Back towards Gomer Creek we had to once again fight our way through the willows
and hop across a few streams before getting on the mud bog of a trail. The last
bit of the trail back to the parking lot is uphill and you can always feel it in
your legs during that last half mile!
Mtn(13,940), Frasco BM(13,876), Casco Peak(13,908): Halfmoon Creek TH.
9/27/03, 9.7 miles roundtrip, 6hrs. This was part of Bob and my extended
Aconcagua training since we were meeting the group to hike Elbert the next day.
Multi-day hikes are key. After abusing my truck to get to the higher TH (okay,
it was fun) we started off on the old mining road into the valley with Elbert to
our south and Massive to our north. Once in the valley we could easily pick out
the peaks and headed up the scree and grassy slopes towards the summit of
French, getting there after only 2.5hrs. The views around to the Elks, Holy
Cross, and other Sawatch peaks were outstanding. A pretty easy hike led us down
to the saddle and up to the Frasco Benchmark. From there the fun began as we
worked our way over towards Casco on the class 2+ ridge. Man, that stuff is a
blast! It was tempting to continue on to Bull Mtn and Elbert, but it was a wise
choice to head back to the mining road and to camp.
Mania: Chapin Creek TH start/Long
Lake TH finish. ~18 miles roundtrip, 12.5hrs. 10/26/03. Though not Centennial 13ers, this epic
journey of 13,000ft+ peaks was definitely cause for mentioning! It's called "Mummy
Mania" and consists of knocking out a bunch of peaks in the Mummy Range in
the northern part of Rocky Mtn National Park in one long ass-kicking day of
~7000ft elevation gain. Bob
and I looked at it as a great Aconcagua training opportunity, and Kurt came
along cause he's a masochist. After getting picked up in Golden at 4:15am we
setup the car shuttle and were hiking at 5:55am. It wasn't too cold, but still
dark and audibly windy. Mount Chapin(12,454ft) was the first peak and didn't
take too long to get to, besides the detour to its lower western summit. We were going to be up high almost all day so on went
most of my clothes I brought and the winds hammered us. Next was down a saddle
and up Mount Chiquita(13,069ft).
These first two peaks weren't too bad, and even with the 30-40mph winds and below
zero temps it was a blast! The hump over to Ypsilon Mountain(13,514ft) was
quite a bit longer but we remained pretty high most of the time. The winds were
coming from the north and stung like a bitch on any exposed skin. Ypsilon to
Fairchild Mountain(13,502ft) was another pretty long hump but we were halfway
through the peaks by then and were able to hide out from the wind below a ridge
part of the way. Onwards to Hagues Peak(13,560ft) where we had some
mild route finding after a 1000ft+ drop into the appropriately named "the
Saddle", but we picked our way through the scree and boulders, up the
other side of the valley and between two giant rock buttresses to the summit. The true summit was some really cool hand and
foot moves up some monster cracks. Next we dropped down towards the beautiful Rowe
Glacier that somehow hung onto the nearly vertical rocks complete with crevasses
and the frozen lake below it, it was really awesome and nothing I was expecting
to see. A long slog up the
other side of the valley put us on Rowe Peak(13,420ft)
then a short hop and a drop down to Rowe Mountain(13,184ft).
We only had one peak left and figured it wouldn't be much longer....wrong! The
winds were stronger, it was much colder, clouds were blowing around everywhere
and we still had a butt-load of elevation to gain and lose. Back up most of Rowe
Peak, down into the valley between Rowe and Hagues, up most of Hagues, then a
traverse around. Mummy
Mountain(13,425ft) was much like Elbrus with the cold and getting blown off our
feet! From there we had about a 4,000ft drop past a cool rainbow and the blocked
winds on the Lawn Lake Trail. From there it was another 5.7miles to the car and
it sucked. We were all pretty beat with sore feet but cruising along to try to
beat darkness. The last hour was by headlamp and it was great once we saw
headlights on the road we were parked on! Though 99% of Estes Park was closed we
were able to score some much needed and deserved beer and food at Ed's Cantina.
Herman Gulch TH. 11/09/03, 9 miles roundtrip, 6hrs. Aconcagua training hike.
After hiking along the stream and a gentle slope through trees we got above tree
line near the Herman Lake. From here the snow got deeper and the trail got
steeper. The rocks were pretty loose so footing wasn't great cause ya never knew
what you were stepping on below the snow. After some sliding around on scree we
got to the summit ridge that was almost a knife-edge to the small summit after
4hrs with great views all around. Mostly foot skiing on the way back to the lake
made for a quick descent. A good training climb with close to 4000ft elevation
gain and lots of laughs. This would definitely be a great peak to practice
roped-travel or ski on.
Mtn(13,898), Peerless Mtn(13,348), Mt Sheridan(13,748): Fourmile Creek TH.
12/6/03, ~5 miles, 5.5hrs. Another Aconcagua training climb with Bob and Laurie.
We drove up to about 12,200ft or so and hiked up to a semi-flat area near the
Dauntless Mine where we pitched camp. From there we headed WSW below Sheridan
and to the saddle between Sheridan and Peerless. Up and over Peerless led us to
some crazy winds on the NE ridge of Horseshoe. We looked like drunkards because
whenever the wind would stop or slow down we would practically fall over from
leaning to far into it! Probably 30-40mph with 45-50mph gusts there. They were
constant and more challenging then the hike! On top of the big flat summit we
took some pics and checked out the 100 year old mining hut before retracing our
steps towards Sheridan. After a nice break from the wind on the leeward side we
got up on the south ridge of Sheridan and fought our way to the top with even
higher winds. I was getting blown off my feet a few times and was even reduced
to crawling at points. It was crazy how the wind would literally lift you off of
the ground! We figured them to be around 75mph. After about 30 seconds on the
summit we retreated to the east face for a fast down climb through snow towards
our camp. The rest of the Aconcagua group was there by then so we helped them
with their tents before some dinner and retiring for a long, sleepless, windy
Scott Gulch TH. 1/1/04, 6.4 miles roundtrip, 7.5hrs. Instead of partying NYE and
being all hung over on New Years Day, I figured I'd get up to altitude one last
time before leaving for Aconcagua. Silverheels is supposed to be a cool winter
climb so myself, Bruce, Win, and Denali went for it. We had the snowshoes on
right from the start and followed what looked like a snowmobile track for a bit.
Seemed like we were heading too far north and after studying the map and the
surrounding area we headed up what we thought was the drainage to the saddle NE
of point 12,420. It was some pretty damn deep snow and we were breaking trail
the entire way and it was pretty slow going, especially with a full pack! Ends
up we were heading up the drainage SW of point 12,420 so we tagged the extra
credit peak on the way. D'oh! From there we could see the rest of the route and
headed down "Heartbreak Hill". The rest of the route was pretty
windblown of snow and we threw our snowshoes on our packs while the wind was
blasting us around. After 4hrs we were on the summit, it was a beautiful day and
we could see all the surrounding peaks. After a half hour we headed back down,
the dogs were still full of energy and loving it. The hike back was great until
"Heartbreak Hill", it earned its name and we dropped down the other
side of the saddle and back into the deep snow and willows. Oh the glorious
willows. After struggling and breaking more trail for awhile we found our old
tracks and followed them the short distance back to the TH. What a fantastic
Mountain(13,855): Fourmile Creek TH. 5/21/04, ~8 miles roundtrip, 6hrs.
After doing absolutely nothing (except for boozin' and watching hockey playoffs)
for 7 weeks with a groin injury, it was time to hit the mtns again. Peggy has
wanted to climb Sherman for a while now, and I figured that would be a great way
to get back into things as long as we tagged a couple 13ers on as well. Summited
Sherman from the saddle between White Ridge and Sherman, it was a nice change of
ways and avoided some cornices. After a short break on Sherman it was just under
1/2hr and 0.6miles to Gemini's SW summit. Some more food there then I hopped
over the the higher of the two summits. Next was 0.9miles over to Dyer with a
significant drop down to the saddle before the powerlines. Kept snowshoes on but
had to walk in some rocks. There was another big cornice and overhanging snow
that dropped steeply into Iowa Gulch. I was real pooped on the last bit of Dyers
slope and the wind was blowing good. Made it to the summit of Dyer in just under
an hour. Then was the long slog back to Gemini and back over Sherman before some
foot-skiing back down to Fourmile Creek TH. A great day to get back into the
mountains and off the couch!
Peak(13,300): Mt Princeton TH. 6/12/04, Made the slight detour over
to Tigger Peak on the way up Mt Princeton.
Lakes TH. 11/7/04, ~5.5 miles roundtrip, 5hrs 50mins, Southeast Ridge. Denali
and I met Bruce and Win in Woodland Park and we headed to the Blue Lakes TH just
south of Quandary. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and close to no wind.
Up and over the dam we went and along the north side of Blue Lake and then
followed a drainage up through some brush and to a high valley. Fletchers summit
only appeared briefly, mostly blocked by other peaks and ridges. A couple steep
sections of kicking steps in the snow lead us up around 13,200ft. We could see
the summit from here and before long we were through some more snow and rock and
sitting on the summit after 2hrs 45mins. Amazingly there was no wind and it was
still so beautiful! After a 1/2hr we dropped southwest to the Drift/Fletcher
saddle and followed the directions the best we could under Drifts southeast
face. It was kinda hard getting our bearing and finding the exact route. We were
trying different ways and routes but nothing panned out. When we finally got to
the couloir we were almost positive was the route, it was 1pm, the snow was real
soft, and the conditions above didn't look promising. It seemed like the dogs
would've had a hard time on the steep slope too. So we bagged Drift for another
day and worked our way slowly down to the Monte Cristo Creek. There was no
defined trail that we could find so we just kept descending through the valley
with the occasional tromp through Willows and frozen swamps. The ridge to the
south blocked the sun and the temps dropped quite a bit. Before long we were
back at Blue Lake and at the truck. Sure couldn't beat a beautiful day like this
Buckskin(13,865): Buckskin Creek TH. 11/28/04, ~10 miles roundtrip,
7.5hrs, Northeast Slope. It was Keith's b-day so he picked Buckskin and Loveland
to climb. I met the group in Alma after a crappy drive with slow traffic and
fresh snow. We could only get to within 2 miles of the TH and started
snowshoeing from there. The snowshoes were definitely needed as there was plenty
of fresh snow around! Nice! The weather kept changing from nice and sunny to
cloudy and cold. After a record number of clothing adjustments we were at Kite
Lake. Due to avy danger we bagged the original idea of climbing Loveland first.
Plenty of laughs along the way trading "most embarrassing moments"
stories! We headed west then southwest up the much deeper snow towards
Buckskin's summit. We traded turns breaking trail which was a ball-buster and
even Denali had his turn even though most of the snow was over his head! On the
final summit ridge the going was easier but it started snowing like crazy! There
was a big cornice all along the ridge but Keith and Bob found a cut in it that
we slipped through. From there we couldn't tell how far the summit was but
stayed on the climbers left of the corniced ridge and kept climbing up. After
another 15mins or so we were on the summit with about 20ft visibility! We wasted
no time up there and quickly turned around for the speedy descent skiing down
most of the way on our snowshoes. Back at Kite Lake for a food/pee break and
then the 3-4mile slog back to the cars. It was just about dark when we got to
them finally and we were ready for tasty beers and fat burgers at the South Park
Saloon. After chewing most of the snowballs out of his fur Denali slept the
entire way home while I had the death-drive through blowing snow and invisible
roads. What a great day in the mtns with great folks and beautiful deep snow!
Mountain (13,684): French Creek
TH. 1/16/05, ~6 miles roundtrip, 8hrs. For Denali training we were going to hike
Mt Guyot. After ice climbing for 2 days I slept out at the TH with Wayne and Tom
Urban met us in the morning. The trail was good and packed to begin with then
the ski tracks stopped and our breaking trail began. This went on for hours in
up to waist deep snow. We headed up what we thought was a drainage on Guyot and
kept going and going. This took us up to tree line where the clouds were getting
low and the wind was howling. Tom turned around to meet Amy and beat traffic and
Wayne and I discussed going on. Denali (the dog) probably had enough at this
point and his face keep getting snow/iced over! We hammered on climbing the icy
rocks and snow patches further and further up. After 5hrs we were standing on
the summit of what we thought was Guyot, though this didn't jive with the
compass bearings I was taking and Wayne altimeter. HHhhmmm. We didn't stay on
the summit for long and slowly worked our way down the slope again. Once at tree
line again we took a good long break and put the snowshoes back on for the deep
snow. After 8hrs we were back at the truck and both pretty damn pooped. Checking
out a topo the next day confirmed that we were on Bald Mtn instead of Guyot.
Sniktau (13,234): Loveland Pass
TH. 5/21/05, ~4 miles roundtrip. After crevasse rescue practice on the cornice
above Loveland Pass with Bob and Wayne I decided to pop over to Sniktau with a full
pack. It was a beautiful warm day and I only needed a short sleeve shirt. On the
way up I ran into Larry from Kilimanjaro a couple years ago and had a great time
catching up on stories with him. I boogied down back to the pass and ended up
getting interviewed by Fox News for their 9pm main story about the avalanche at
Peak, NM (13,161): Twining TH. 7/30/05,
~12 miles and 6.5hrs roundtrip. As a mystery birthday weekend get-away, Jean
took me down to Taos for a hike of Wheeler Peak and mountain biking. We started
out at the Bull of the Woods TH at 7am and quickly got on a side trail and did
some bushwhacking through trees and streams before hopping back on the correct
path. The trail was awesome and had a nice gentle incline. In under an hour we
were at the Pasture and turning south to follow the ridge the rest of the way.
The views around were great and we couldn't have asked for better weather. We
passed a few other groups heading the same way and took a couple breaks for food
and relaxing. We also spotted a couple herds of either Elk or Big Horn Sheep,
one which a yellow lab was more then happy to chase away. After 3.5hrs we were
on the summit with some other folks and plenty of flies. We stayed for as long
as we could stand the flies then started down towards Williams Lake for a
complete Tour de Wheeler. The first couple thousand feet was skiing in scree and
sure wouldn't be fun to go up. Then back to a nice dirt trail through the trees
to the lake. After a couple miles and jokes about all the bee-keeper hats and
cotton shirts, we were at the bottom of Taos ski lift #4. Much to our surprise
(and delight) the German-style restaurant was open so we stopped in a for a
bathroom and beer break! Aaahhhh, just like Switzerland! Then we plodded the
next 1.5miles back along a green run to the parking lot. What a great day with
plenty of time left to relax in the afternoon at the condo that we had all to
Top Mountain (13,794): Guanella
Pass TH. 8/13/05, 3hrs roundtrip. An alpine 10am start after blowin' a fan belt
along I70. It was crappy weather along the front range but much nicer in the
mtns. Took about 2hrs on the way up with fog covering the top third and not much
in the way of views. Due to the weather we weren't able to go over to Argentine
and Edwards. Oh well, we just wanted a short jaunt to get some thin air before
the PPA/PPM next w/end.
Parnassus (13,574): Herman Gulch TH.
Northwest Ridge route. 10/1/05, 4hrs 15mins roundtrip. Desperately wanting to get up to altitude Jean,
Denali, and I took a quick jaunt up Parnassus to get a workout in and to make
sure we earned our beers that night for the Great American Beer Fest. We headed
up the trail and above treeline we got a tiny bit sidetracked and had to cut
back over towards the saddle. It was a beautiful day and the views of Torrey's
and the aspens couldn't be beat! Patches of snow here and there but nothing
serious yet. We were on the summit a bit after 2hrs and enjoyed the time with no
one else around. Headed down the same way and saw a few folks on their way up
and hiking the Waltrus Gulch trail. We figured we'd come back for the giant loop
of 6 or so peaks in this area. A good quick peak to get us achin' to get back to
altitude and hiking once again at ~5miles and ~3700ft elevation gain!!
Mtn (13,587), Mt Edwards (13,850), Argentine Peak (13,738): Waldorf
Mine TH. 10/23/05. Hoping to get up to altitude again before too much snow, we
picked these peaks somewhat close to Denver. Luckily we were able to drive the
entire way to Waldorf Mine saving about 12miles hiking from down below. We
followed the East Slopes route up towards Edwards and gained altitude fast on no
trails. At the 13,420ft saddle we hiked the half mile over to McClellan for
great views of Grays, Torreys, and down into Stevens Gulch. It was a beautiful
warm day with a cold stiff breeze up on the ridges. The hike back to the saddle
and over to Edwards didn't take long. We could believe how steep Dead Dog
Couloir looked and that we climbed it back in the Spring! After a nice break out
of the wind we just followed another ridge for 2 miles southeast then south over
several 13K+ bumps towards Argentine. Looking down into Horseshoe Basin we could
see all the old mines and a view of a ESE side of Grays that probably doesn't
see much action. Heading back towards Argentine Pass we made our own way down to
a 4x4 road and to the truck. An awesome Tour de Edwards almost all above 13K on
high ridges with great views all around, had the whole place to ourselves for
just over 6hrs!!
Mtn (13,082): From Ken's Cabin.
01/28/06. For Jean's birthday w/end I reserved Ken's Cabin outside of
Breckenridge on Boreas Pass. It was a sweet 6.5mile snowshoe/ski in to the Continental
Divide on Boreas Pass where we stayed for two nights. Regardless of the high
wind, clouds and snow we decided to try the 1600ft to Boreas Mtn. We didn't take
snowshoes figuring we could hop between wind blown areas...bad idea! The drifts
were freakin' DEEP and we were often up to our waists floundering around.
Eventually we got to some rocky areas and could follow them most of the way up.
The wind was a steady 30+mph the entire day but the skies kept getting more and
more blue! Up on the summit ridge we got blown over to the true summit for half
of a second then dropped down with our backs to the wind for a quick bite. From
there we fought the wind the entire way back down re-tracing our steps but going
a different way around a small avy chute. Back at the cabin it was nice to be in
the warmth once again and the 3.5hr/3mile trip seems like a full day!
Pk D (13,427), Cupid (13,117): Loveland
Pass TH. 02/25/06. With the nice weather in Denver we figured we would get up to
some altitude for a second w/end in a row. Jean, Denali, and I slept in and made
breakfast then headed out to Loveland Pass getting there around 10:15am. Not too
much ski traffic and only a handful of skiers/riders on top of the pass. We set
off at a fast pace towards the 12,915 point and got slammed with the wind once
on top which didn't cease until we were back at the car. We put on extra clothes
and grabbed a bite to eat and before long we were on top of Cupid Peak looking
at the cool ridge to the summit of Grizzly. We picked our way up through the
patches of snow and loose rocks and after a couple hours were on the summit. The
trip to Torreys looked like fun but would have to wait for another day. Due to
the high winds we were outta there real quick for the return trip up and over
the three bumps and Cupid back to the car after just under 5hrs for the
~5.5miles. A great day but
definitely more wind then we expected! Unfortunately we saw a horrible accident
on the way home where a semi lost their brakes a slammed into a Suburban at the
Ouray (13,971): Greys Creek TH. 04/30/06.
8miles, 4370ft. After a foiled attempt in January we were back at Mt Ouray with
an earlier start and expectations of high wind and soft snow. Myself, Jean,
Denali, Keith and Beth, Bob, Dwight, and Steve Nicholls started off on the NE
Ridge route after beers around the campfire and a windy night of camping. There
were only patches of snow and this time we could actually follow the faint trail
most of the way. We made quick time up to the 12,761 point mostly on the snow.
Keith was recovering from a 3-day 24hr bug but started feeling better....just
about the time that Beth started feeling like crap. The somewhat narrow ridge
creeps along with some fun scrambling as the wind was blasting us from time to
time. Beth was really feel like crap at this point and Jean and I hung
back with her and the other hung out on the summit. After 5hrs we were on the
summit with beautiful weather! After a quick bite to eat and some pictures we
headed down the East ridge for a complete Tour de Ouray. This was a nice gentle
ridge for awhile till we dropped off to the north to find our old trail. Beth
continued to "paint the rocks" and we slowly made our way down on the
talus. At the "crotch" of the "devils armchair" we tried to
avoid too much deep snow and picked through the awesome looking dead trees.
Before too long we were on our original trail and post holing our way back to
the cars arriving for a total of 8hrs and 50mins. Man did those beers taste
good! More and more I'm finding that these 13ers usually have some challenge or
surprise for ya!
Nipple (13,500), Huerfano (13,828): Upper
Huerfano TH. 5/14/06. 8.2miles, 3728ft, 9hrs total. After a 70mile road bike
ride on Saturday we were going to hit some 13ers with the Bershader's and
Dawson. Plans changed of course, and we headed down towards Mt Lindsey with our
eyes on a couloir that we read about on 14erworld. Cool! We found some new dirt
roads on the way to the distant town of Gardner then it rained along the 22miles
of dirt roads to the TH. The Subaru did great the whole way until I backed over
a rock trying to find a level place to park for sleeping in the back. After
dumping the cooler on myself, a couple beers and a short night of sleep we woke
up to a warm humid morning and thin clouds. We hiked along the damp trail and hit the
first crux of crossing the creek. Some patches of snow that we figured we would
be post-holing through later and we climbed up the steep rocks to a beautiful
valley with AWESOME views of Blanca and Ellingwood. My soaking wet pizza didn't
really hit the spot and got chucked for some lucky animal. We picked through the
rocks on a fun route then slowly humped up to the 13K saddle. Here Jean decided
that she was way too wiped out for the rest of the climb so I
decided to hop over to a couple 13ers while Keith/Beth/Bob did the snow climb
and Jean hung at the saddle. The short scrambly climb up to Iron Nipple was a
bunch of class 2+ fun and even a short knife edge right before the summit. I
spent only a couple seconds up there then started to head over to Huerfano which
was quickly disappearing in the clouds. I was sweating like crazy and kept a
good pace up to the summit. I called Jean on the radio and told her I'd be back
soon and headed back over Iron Nippleto the saddle in just over an hour total.
From here we kept our eyes on Lindsey looking for the others and took a short
nap. To kill time we were going to play on the snowfield closeby, but ended up
sinking up to our waists with every step. We watched those guys coming down the
steep ridge then headed back down into the cool valley. The clouds were coming
and going and once we were back in the trees it started to snow, then grapple,
then rain. Wonderful! Some close lightning, but nothing to worry about, and
before long we were back at the cars for a couple cold beers.
Mountain (13,266): From Milwaukee
Pass, Cottonwood Creek TH. 05/29/06. About 8miles and about 3,800ft from camp at
11,200ft. After a fantastic day on Crestone Peak Dwight, Sarah, Keith and I
headed for Milwaukee and Pico. It was a long faint trail slog up into the basin
and up to Milwaukee Pass. It was pretty cold for the end of May, but atleast not
windy again. Once at the crux move on Milwaukee Keith and I decided we call it a
day and sat on the pass for a break while Dwight and Sarah monkeyed right up the
crux. To the east we saw Marble Mountain and figured we could drop about 600ft
and cruise along the fun ridge to the summit. Good choice!! After an hour and a
very cool ridge we were on the summit. The views along the way of Humboldt, the
Crestones, and S. Colony Lake area were awesome. We didn't spend much time
on the summit before retracing our steps along the 1+mile ridge. From Milwaukee
Pass we called the girls to let them know we were on our way. Of course we got
off the faint trail and did some more bushwhacking....it wouldn't be a 13er
without! At camp we grubbed and packed up since Jean and Beth tore down camp and
headed out along the awesome trail back to the cars. The conglomerate slabs were
fun once again, but would suck if they were wet! The cold beers at the car were
AWESOME....too bad the w/end was over.
Quail Mtn (13,461), Mt Hope (13,933), Pt 13,642, Ervin Peak (13,531): Sheep Gulch TH. 06/02/06. About 8.4miles and 5660ft. 8.5hrs. A Friday off was a good opportunity to get up to altitude on some 13ers and scout out part of the Leadville 100 course. Steve Nicholls took the day off work willingly and we left The Fort at 5am. On the trail by 7:30 leaving the snowshoes in the car but brought along crampons and ice axes for a possible snow climb. It was 41 degrees at the TH, so that seemed like a long shot, but ya never know! No introduction to the steepness and after 1.5hrs we were on Hope Pass imagining how bad this trail will suck after 50miles in Leadville! Only needed shorts and a t-shirt and it was an absolutely beautiful day! More snow to the north and the Missouri Couloirs looked "in". We easily got up Quail Mtn in 45mins and relaxed on the summit talking about how tough the miners must've been to live in those cabins all the way up there. This is definitely the most bomb-proof register I've seen also. Didn't take long to get back to Hope Pass and we started up the east ridge considering Denali was post-holing in the snow so that didn't look good for a climb of the NE couloir. The snow higher up was still real soft so we stayed on the rock as much as possible. This was some fun scrambly stuff and after about 4hrs total, we were on the summit. Sweet! I was thinking we were heading back down but Steve easily convinced me to hit the SW ridge towards some other 13ers. We followed a mining trail and soon came across loose talus that we were jumping and sliding around. Similar to the Bells Traverse in spots, and after plenty of sliding and clawing away, we were on the small summit of Point 13,642. This was turning into quite a bit of fun!!! From Hope we couldn't see the ridge to the recently named Ervin Peak, but now we could and it looked the same between Hope and 13,642 with just a couple crux areas. Let's go for it! We started picking our way down having to use our hands quite a bit. Came across one area that Denali couldn't link together so we did a "dog over shoulder" move that got him down. This ridge just kept getting cooler and cooler!!! Towards the end there were some big blocky areas that were a bit unsettled, but with some careful moves (and one serious bruise for Steve) we were close to the summit of Ervin. The north side of the ridge was a BIG drop so we stayed a bit south and post holed through some snow jumping between rocks. To our surprise there were only 4 names in the register since 6/03!!! It was still a beautiful warm day out and we relished our awesome ridge run. Denali was POOPED so I stuffed his pack into mine. We eyed up a possible ridge run over to La Plata and decided to keep that in the books for later. According to the map we could follow the SE ridge down then follow Hewitts Gulch to road 390 and close to the cars. We crossed our fingers and headed down having no idea if it "went" or not. More rock hopping, some foot skiing, some creek following, and we were at treeline....so far so good! We were amazed that the bush whacking wasn't too bad and only got into some sticker bushes and downed trees lower. Before long we popped out on 390 and only had a couple hundred yards to the car!!!! By far one of my favorite days in the mtns, though all day long I kept thinking that the next couple days of yard work and a 100mile ride wouldn't be any easier given the 8.5hr day!
Englemann Peak (13,362), Robeson Peak (13,140): Urad Mine TH. 7/8/06. 5.8miles, 3400ft, 3.5hrs total. I've had my eye on the Englemann to Woods loop for awhile now so Nicholls and I headed there on a rainy Saturday morning at the butt-crack of dawn. We passed all the poor souls biking the Triple Bypass and were glad we weren't them. Instead we would hike in the rain! D'oh! We drove up to the Urad Mine and backtracked to find the correct 4x4 road. Started at just after 6:30am we followed Ruby Creek up then did a short bushwhack to a jeep road. This was a nice alternative to the soaking wet bushwhack up a ridge we were thinking of. The higher we got in the loose gulley the thicker the clouds got and the heavier the rain. On with the rain gear and constant checks of the map till we got to the saddle where we couldn't see more then 20ft and the wind picked up. The map and compass skills came out here and we headed directly north to the easy summit. After a couple pictures of the Gore Range (pea soup) and Berthoud Pass (pea soup) we headed back to the saddle and up Robeson since "it's just right there". No point hitting the other peaks since we couldn't see a thing and were already soaked to the bone. Denali didn't even look like he was having fun. So we headed down the same gulley with plans to come back another time!
Englemann Peak (13,362), Robeson Peak (13,140), Bard (13,641), Parnassus (13,574), Woods (12,940): Urad Mine TH. 7/14/06. 10.5miles, 5200ft, 5.5hrs total. After getting stoned by weather on this route last w/end, I headed back out there with Denali on my day off. It turned out perfect....followed the same drainage up, and bopped between the peaks taking 10-20mins on top of each. No surprises and real easy to follow. Great views of Greys/Torreys, etc etc etc. I thought for sure I was bonking a few times and kept wondering how the hell I'm going to be able to do the Leadville 100. Oh well! The flies were swarming on top of each summit as well. From the top of Woods I dropped down to the 12,730 point then followed the very faint mining roads back into the drainage and back to the car. It was cool to see Woods from Englemann, then Englemann from Woods several hours later. A mighty fine day in the hills!!
Lady Washington (13,281): Longs
Peak TH. 12/15/06. 10miles, 3900ft, 7hrs 15mins total. A great peak for the
winter! We were in Estes celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary and headed up
MLW while there. Ran into Terry MacDonald from Kilimanjaro in 2003 at the
parking lot but didn't put it all together until further up the trail. Followed
the easy snow packed trail up to tree line where the wind picked up and pushed
on to Chasm Junction while getting blown all over the place. Took a nice long
eating break at the privy and continued on boulder hopping and trying to stand
up straight during the gusts. Jean
decided at 12,650 she had enough so I
sprinted up to the summit finishing the end on my hands and knees. Some fun
class 2+ boulders at the top! I stuck around for about 2 minutes then boulder
hopped back to Jean where we slowly made our way back to Chasm Junction seeing a
family of ptarmigans along the way. From there it was easy to follow the trail
back to the car and a nice warm room at the Black Canyon Inn and great dinner at
the Dunraven. YUM!
Mt Flora (13,146): Berthoud Pass TH. 1/13/07. 5miles, 2600ft, 4hrs 15mins total. Looking to get up to altitude yet away from avy danger this hike fit the bill! About 2 degrees in Castle Rock when we left home, yet 24 degrees on top of Berthoud Pass. Following the old ski lift path we topped out on 12,493ft Colorado Mines Peak in beautiful weather and just about no wind. From there we headed NE along the Divide over a couple bumps and on to Mt Flora. This is where we finally got some wind, but not too bad. Re-traced our steps back and contoured around Colorado Mines Peak this time into the fog that settled on top of the pass. With some compass work and keeping an eye on landmarks, we ended up exactly where we wanted to be just above the cars. Denali's new boots seemed to work out very well too.
13,050 and TinCup (13,345): St Elmo townsite TH. 2/3/07. 9.8miles, 3900ft, 10hrs 5mins total. I tagged along with Dwight, Kevin Baker, Doug Hatfield and Jim for a couple 13ers. It was a hellacious drive out there leaving at 3:30am and dealing with the wind and ice. We followed a snowmobile track up the road for a bit then broke off up Lake Gulch. The snow was deep but consolidated, that changed the higher we got and soon enough we were in snow up to our waists. Around 12,300ft we had avy slopes on either side of us and choose to do a bit of a mixed climb to get up higher on the ridge. That worked and soon enough we were on the mostly wind blown SE ridge. After 5hrs we popped out on the summit of 13,050 and all agreed to give TinCup a try. It was full on sand blasting from the wind the rest of the way as we boulder hopped and scrambled along the ridge. It was actually quite fun and narrow in a few spots. After 2hr we were on the summit of TinCup. Since we were just about getting knocked over we didn't stay for longer then a couple minutes. Dwight and Kevin were somewhat successful at glissading down while Doug and I plunge stepped down. We had to be real careful of avy slopes once again and I broke trail most of the way down getting us to the road... thankfully snowmobiles came up this high so it was smooth sailing the last couple miles back to the car. The drive home wasn't much better and I knew I'd be sore for the Winter Tri the following day. Love these 13ers!!!
NorthStar Mtn (13,614): Hoosier Pass TH. 2/10/07. 8.2miles, 2640ft, 5hrs 50mins total. A peak I've been wanting to do in the winter for a few years now given that it starts near treeline and is an avy-free ridge almost the entire way. Jean, Denali, and I picked up Bob in the morning and we were hiking from the Pass under blue skies by 8am. It was easy to follow the 4x4 road along the south side of the ridge and up around point 12,200-something. We ditched our snowshoes a bit further up and skirted around the first of three "bumps" that make up the 1.25mile long ridge. There was some FUN rock scrambling, small sections of steep snow, and drops on either side of the narrow ridge at times. Jean called it quits on the second bump and Bob and I hammered over to the summit in deteriorating weather. We were both surprised at the lack of snow on all the surrounding mtns and hatched plans to come back soon. Unfortunately visibility wasn't that great but we could see Cristo Couloir where Jean broke her ankle last summer. We laughed and ate on the summit for a few minutes before heading back. Storming up the ridge was fellow 14erworld member John Kirk! Back at the second bump we continued down with Jean and Denali. John soon caught up and we chatted with him about peaks and climbs. Back to the Pass in no time to find church groups sledding and all sorts of people. Great food at the South Park Saloon and an easy drive home. Quite a fun peak that I want to come back in the summer to continue over to Wheeler!
Hoosier Ridge (13,352), Red Peak (13,215), Red Mtn (13,229): Hoosier Pass TH. 2/18/07. 11.2miles, 3350ft, 7hrs 45mins total. From NorthStar last w/end this looked like a great hike out of avy danger with a nice long ridge up high. Jean and I quickly recruited Bob once again and we started on a beautiful bluebird day Sunday morning. Pretty easy to follow and just a bit of trenching below treeline. Bob broke a snowshoe just before we took them off and we all stashed them on top of Point 12,814 since the ridge was wind swept. Up and down we went over many bumps before arriving on Hoosier Ridge after 3hrs. Bob, Denali, and I headed to the unranked Red Peak while Jean stayed behind since she summitted this one from the Section House with Keith and Beth last year. We took in the great views all around and enjoyed the lack of wind before contouring around the very top of Hoosier Ridge meeting up with Jean again. Down to the saddle and up to Red Mtn. Needed the ice axes for one short steep section here and were on top in no time at all. Now the fun begins... getting back over all the bumps! We avoided Hoosier Ridge's summit and got up on the ridge again at Pt 13,201... still a long way to go! Jean bonked so we got her full of food and Gatorade and motored along. Each bump seemed longer and longer despite heading down. The last one was a welcome sight knowing we just had to head west to the cars. Ended up being a great day up high, certainly harder and longer then all of us expected!
Kelso Mtn (13,164): Stevens Gulch TH. SW ridge. 5/4/07. 11miles, 3370ft, 5hrs total. As part of my "kick my own ass back into shape" plan, I decided to check out Kelso Mtn as well as try to get a look at some couloirs to climb. Starting from I70, Denali and I humped it up the road and got to the summer TH in 70mins, I was definitely feeling the fact that I haven't been at altitude in awhile! The weather was turning to crap and there were no views. D'oh! We got to the Kelso/Torrey's saddle in 2hrs and hopped around the fun couple hundred feet of rock working our way up the ridge, very similar to the bottom of Kelso Ridge. The crampons came out next for some wind blown snow to the summit, just under 3hrs. Couldn't see crap, and just stayed long enough to chow. We went down the same way and got back to the car in 5hrs in the middle of a blizzard. Sure felt great to get up into some thin air once again!
Iowa Peak (13,831), Emerald Peak (13,904), Pecks Peak (13,270): Missouri Gulch TH. 5/26/07. 19miles, 8300ft, 9hrs 40mins total. Another mega-loop that has been on my to-do list. After drinking beers around the camp fire till midnight with the rafting w/end crew, the alarm went off way too early at 5am. Since the TH was only 2 miles away I just started from camp, getting there in 20mins. Was feeling a bit sluggish but made it to the cabin in 1hr. I was surprised at all the snow the basin was holding and the Missouri couloirs were full. Since Missouri's normal route looked snowed under, I shot up directly west to gain the long and high ridge. After a small sketchy section and a long ridge run, I was on Missouri's summit after 3.5hrs. Great views and weather so far! After a 15min break eating and doing some blister maintenance I dropped down the ridge, staying on the snow, and arrived on the easy summit of Iowa after only 20mins. No reason to stick around for long, I continued on to Emerald. The 500ft gain from the saddle was starting to wear me out, arriving on Emeralds summit after 4hrs 40mins total. Not a person in sight and still a long way to go. The sun was radiating off the snow and warming things up quite a bit. Instead of dropping all the way down into the valley like I should have, I stayed a bit high and got screwed in some deep and steep snow, slippery mud, and scrambling around up to 13,300 on Missouri's East Ridge. That really wore me out since I ended up way above Elkhead Pass. I was really thinking about calling it quits and skipping the last few peaks since it took well over an hour to get there from Emeralds summit. I thought about whether or not I would regret it and quickly decided to head NE towards Belford/Oxford. With barely any water left I kept checking the clouds and jogged part of the ridge over to Oxford. I was really hurting at this point but it still took just an hour from Elkhead Pass to the summit of Oxford. I spent just enough time on the summit to eat some pretzels and Gu then hammered back over to Belford. The last 700ft from the saddle REALLY sucked, I just stared at my feet. Once on the summit of Belford after 8hrs I realized I had plenty of time to head to Pecks Peak too... it IS practically on the way. I eyed up a descent route back to Missouri Gulch and took a short break on the summit of Peaks. The next 2000ft was a scree foot ski of fun down to the gulch. I was soooo thirsty and couldn't wait to get to the stream to fill up my CamelBak. The switchbacks down were relentless as always, and I got to the TH and started hoofing it up the road back to camp. What a big day!!
Coney BM (13,334): 6/16/07. Up and over Coney as part of the San Juan Solstice 50 miler!
Traver Peak (13,852), McNamee Peak (13,780), Clinton Peak (13,857): Montgomery Res. TH. 7/13/07. 10miles, 3900ft, 4hrs 50mins total. Denali and I had a good "boy and his dog" hike on this easy loop of peaks. It was good choice since I didn't want to kill my legs for the Triple Bypass on Saturday. We parked on the west side of the reservoir and started hiking up the road past the old mine and the tough 4x4 route. The weather was nice and there was lots of water flowing down the road and puddles for Denali to jump in. Up at Wheeler Lake after about an hour and I took a bunch of pictures of the old rusty car... what the heck is that doing up here?! The trail disappeared so we followed the descriptions into the basin below the peaks. Lots of green and flowers. We hopped on Traver's rocky East ridge and followed that all the way to the summit, getting there in 2hrs 10mins. A nice long break and checking out the route over to Democrat from the summit. It only took 15mins to get to the trash strewn summit of McNamee... what a dump! The old mining stuff is okay, but all the rest of the trash is too much.... old stove burners, antenna's, cables, metal boxes, etc etc etc. Another 15mins and we were on top of Clinton Peak. This was much prettier and the route over to Wheeler sure did look tempting! Instead, we dropped back down into the basin and back towards Wheeler Lake. Not much longer four 4x4's were coming up the road, they were pretty damn tough looking. No sense trying to dodge the streams so I just got soaked feet on the way back. A quick stop in Breckenridge for pizza before driving home and packing up for a fun 120mile bike ride the next day.
West Spanish Peak (13,626): 7/21/07. Cordova Pass TH. 5.4miles, 3600ft. 3hrs 10mins. We wanted a late start on Saturday and to hit the Sangres de Cristos since we haven't visited them yet this year. Passed by the cool little towns of LaVeta and Curcharas and lots of dikes radiating out from the Spanish Peaks. Started from the tourist-laden TH around 10:30am. Some clouds were building but nothing of concern just yet. The trail is flat for a mile or so through meadows and forests with the occasional view of W. Spanish Peak... sure looks steep from here! Got to treeline just after an hour and started following the cairns up through the scree. Some thunder not too far away and Jean decided to turn around. Got some good PPA training in as I hammered it up the last 1100ft really pushing myself, reached the top in 23mins. I spent just enough time to eat a Gu then headed down trying to beat the thunder and lightning in the distance. Found Jean at treeline and we boogied back to the TH. The rain started about 2mins after we got in the car! Great burgers and pizza at the Old Dog Bar in Curcharas!
California Peak (13,849), Pt 13,577, Pt 13,660: Lower Huerfano TH. 7/22/07. 11.8miles, 5800ft, 6hrs 50mins total. Slept in Camp Yukon after a high maintenance campfire and some rain. Started out at 6am and switchbacked up through the wet vegetation, across the cow pasture, and more switchbacks up to treeline and Cali's North Ridge at 11,860. From here it's a straight-shot south along the broad and grassy ridge. There are a couple bumps to go over, but after 3rhs 10mins we were on Cali's summit. WooHoo! Great views of the Sand Dunes and Crestones, and the Blanca group of 14ers. Jean and Denali stayed on the summit while I ran over to Pt 13,577 and Pt 13,660. My heart rate was above 170 the entire time and I was really pushing it for a fast time and PPA training. Took 26mins to cover the 1.2miles to 13,577. From there it was another 20mins to 13,660. Reminded me of Braveheart at times jogging across the ridges! HA! Quite narrows and loose at times. I could hear Jean shout something a couple times, but couldn't understand... though I could see the clouds building and figured what it was. After 1hr 26mins I was back on the summit of Cali and saw Jean's note that she started heading down. Soon enough I caught up to her and Denali and we retraced our steps all the way back to the TH. A Greeeeeat w/end in the mtns!!!
Broken Hand Peak (13,573), Lower South Colony Lakes camp. 8/25/07. 7.5miles, 5300ft, 6hrs total. After Crestone Needle Keith, Beth, and I headed over to Broken Hand Peak. Initially we climbed down too far so we reclimbed a couple hundred feet for an easier route. Steep grass and conglomerate. A cool summit with great views of camp, Crestones, Marble Mtn, etc etc etc. Couldn't ask for better weather!
Obstruction Peak (13,799), Columbia Point 13,980, Lower South Colony Lakes camp. 8/26/07. 7miles, 3400ft, 5.5hrs total. Yet another hike up to the Humboldt Saddle! Heading south this time over the fun and spicy ridge to Bears Playground. From there, an easy hike over grass and rocks to the summit of Obstruction just over 2hrs. Fun blocky rocks and a sheer face to the north, Keith and I dropped to the saddle and up the FUN conglomerate of Kitty Kat Carson. Looking at the face it doesn't seem like there's a route, but sure enough there is! Some scrambling for another 5mins to the summit of Columbia after 3hrs. Aaaahhhh, nice! My legs were whooped from the w/end! Keith waited for Beth and Steve while I boogied back to Jean and Brian. Went most of the way back up Obstruction to avoid side-hilling and enjoyed the spicy ridge back. Met Jean and Brian on the saddle and we were back in camp after 5.5hrs total and backpacking down the road to beer and burgers at Poags in Westcliffe. An awesome w/end in the Sangres!!
Peak (13,350), Hermit Pass
Rd, ~10,200. 10/5/07. 11miles, 3100ft, 3.5hrs total. Hoping for six peaks, but
happy with one
given the weather! Denali and I have never been more soaked. It was raining from
the start (next time I'll drive all the way up to 13K on the pass) and switched
to sleet and snow. Visibility at Hermit Pass was close to nil, so we just picked
our way on frozen rocks to Hermit Peak. The thunder I heard on the way down got
us jogging the entire way back to the truck. The blowing ice felt like bee
stings to my face, ouch! Spanked by Mother Nature once again!
Lackawanna Peak (13,823), North Lake Creek TH. Tour de Lackawanna. 11/4/07. 6.6miles, ~3300ft, 7hrs total. Jean was working so I hiked this new Centennial with Denali, Bob, Sharon, Keith, Beth, and Steve Cassin so we could take advantage of Independence Pass still being open. The plan was to go up Lackawanna Gulch and down the NW Ridge. We got to the TH and windshield climatology showed us that it would be a beautiful day. Chatting away we missed the first turn-off and had to bushwhack through willows then cross the stream on icy logs or rocks. A second icy crossing and we were finally on the right track. 20mins into the hike and we could still see the cars, ha! Up the road to 11,500 and into Lackawanna Gulch. Some more willows and post-holing, then we were on the wrong side of the creek, but in less snow and willows luckily. The sun kept getting warmer the further up the gulch we went. Eventually, we reached the 12,400ft turn-off then the "charming basin". The direct route to the saddle was holding moderate snow, so we cut over on a fun-filled scrambly ridge. This was tons of fun and dropped us on the saddle. A short few hundred windy feet to the summit. Viola! The wind calmed down and we could see as far as the Maroon Bells. What a day!!! Back down to the saddle and up Pt 13,660. From here it was down the rocky NW ridge to gentler ground. The gentler ground did not last too long and we worked our way down the steep, but frozen, slope and into the trees. Lots of snowy butt-slides and foot skiing got us back to the road and just a 1/2mile from the cars. We found the correct spot to cross the creek this time, but I was disappointed that no one fell in. D'oh!
S. Arapaho Peak (13,397), "Old Baldy" (13,038) 4th of July TH. 11/11/07. 9miles, ~3300ft, 6.5hrs total. Jean picked out these 13ers and it finally got us back into the Indian Peak Wilderness, an area that we don't visit quite enough. After some confusion about how to get to the TH, we started off up the Arapaho Pass trail, ice skates would've been useful in some areas! After 2miles, we turned up towards Arapaho Saddle on a good trail. More ice skating around and breathe-taking views. Gotta get back up here more often! The sun wasn't quite peeking out and the wind picked up. We put on all of our gear and pressed on. After a break at the saddle we headed up the last 1/2mile and 700ft on a faint trail. Fun jumping around rocks and some snow got us to the summit after 3hrs 20mins! Woohoo! It was cold and windy so we didn't stay long. We got slightly off trail and contoured around back to the saddle. With Old Baldy only 1/2mile and 300ft away, I couldn't resist! It only took 10mins of practically running to get to the summit. Great views of the South to North Arapahoe traverse (note to self: climb it!) Back at the saddle Jean, Denali and I retraced our steps down the trail. It kept getting warmer and we took a nice long break at the 4th of July mine taking pictures. Another hour of slipping and sliding down the trail and we were back at the truck heading to The Spot for great food. Another awesome day!!
Peak 9 (13,195), Peak 10 (13,633) Spruce Creek Rd TH. 11/16/07. 7.5miles, ~3750ft, 4hrs 45mins total. Another Friday off and still not much snow in the mtns had me and Denali tagging along with Wayne and Tom Adams to Breckenridge to hike Peaks 9 & 10. We hiked up the icy road and past the turn-off to Francie's Cabin and made quick time on the Wheeler Trail NW over the east ridge of Peak 10. We decided to hike Peak 9 first to make the return trip easier. Just some ankle deep snow in the willows while approaching the east ridge of Peak 9. One foot in front of the other got us to the windy summit in just over 2hrs. The ski resort looked like there were really hurtin' for snow and I kept looking north checking out the long ridge hoping to do the "10 Mile Range Traverse" someday. More clothes and some grub before dropping down the ridge and cruising up Peak 10. This 800' seemed more like 2800' and I had a hard time warming up my fingers. An hour after summiting Peak 9, we were on Peak 10 checking out the tattered American flag. Another short stop and we cruised right down the east ridge and back to the Wheeler trail. We all took our turns falling on our asses down the Spruce Creek Rd. We were at the Breckenridge Brewery drinking beers shortly after noon.
Drift Peak (13,900) Mayflower Gulch TH. 11/18/07. Villa Ridge, 6.8miles, 2920ft, 7hrs 45mins total. Me, Jean, Denali, Keith & Beth, and Steve Cassin headed out early Sunday morning for Drift Peak hoping to bag another of the High 100 before the snow started getting deep and dangerous. A chill to the morning quickly wore off while slipping and sliding up the 4x4 road into Mayflower Gulch. We left the road and hiked up the frozen grass to the ridge around 12K. The sun peaked over the summit and we climbed the steep and loose scree covered with sugar snow. This was annoying and slow going with more slipping on a seldom seen trail. The slope relented and switched between snow and rock along the cooooool ridge. Jean decided she had enough and reached the edge of her comfort zone, so she and Denali stayed at a safe spot on the ridge while the rest of us continued. I boogied ahead of the others so I could get back quickly, making the summit after 3.5hrs total. The ridge got icier, looser, and windier... Jean would not have enjoyed it. Every step on snow was a mystery as to whether it would be solid rock underneath, or an ankle-bustin' hole between boulders. Great views of Fletcher and the west ridge of Quandary! I inhaled some Junior Mints and hustled back down the ridge. There was no quick way to go and I met the others around the notch high on the ridge. We decided on a meeting point and I picked my way back to Jean and Denali. A quick stop for cold pizza then down back down the rest of the loose ridge. A butt-slide worked best down some of the scree and we hung out around 12K taking pictures and keeping warm with Denali. After the others arrived we make quick work of the 0.5miles to the humble summit of Gold Hill. From here Jean navigated us flawlessly right back to the parking lot. Good grub at the Dam Brewery capped off a perfect w/end!
Pikes Peak (13,363), Devils Playground Peak (13,070) Crags
TH. 01/19/08. 8.5hrs roundtrip. Went up and over
these peaks on the way to Pikes Peak with Nicholls and Denali. A cold and windy
day. A late start due to icy roads and
had to park below the Crags CG. The trail went left near treeline but after a
fun scramble in snowshoes over rocks, we headed back towards Devils Playground.
My hands got dangerously cold on the summit and took quite some time to warm
back up. Nicholls lost a snowshoe and I plotted his murder while he hiked back
up looking for it! HA! Cool sunset and we ended in the dark.
Ruby Mtn (13,277); 3/29/08. 7hrs 8miles. A huge group of 14erworld folks and friends. Went up and over Cooper (12,782) on the way. High wind and low visability made for an interesting hike along the ridge. Fun glissades most of the way down.
Mt Bancroft (13,250) Stewart Rd TH. 05/04/08. 8miles, 7.5hrs roundtrip. Hooked up with James Just and his neighbor Jeff Schaeffer for a climb of the East Ridge, Dave Coopers #6 snow climb in his new book. About an hour to Loch Lomond, awesome knife edge snow ridge mixed with rock scrambling, just over 2hrs to the notch. A fun rappel down to the notch, then a 5.2 climb up the other side. I couldn't get a nut unstuck, so Jeff S. lowered down and dug it out. More fun class 3/4 scrambling and a few a couple more snow ridges to keep our attention focused throughout the climb. 5hrs to the summit and met dudes from Philly and PSU. Spent 45mins on the summit before taking the SE ridge down with a couple glissades. A beautiful spring day, perfect for climbing, and an awesome climb!!!
Goliath Peak (12,216), Rogers Peak (13,391), Mt Warren (13,307) Mt Evans Rd TH. 06/16/08. 5.5miles, 2hrs roundtrip. Looking to escape packing and get some miles in at elevation we headed up to Echo Lake and I started jogging up the road while Jean and Denali hung out at Echo Lake. I cut the bottom two switchbacks and headed up the slope of Goliath Peak arriving in 35mins. A quick snack and I continued SW towards Rogers Peak, crossing the road and boulder hopping. I was able to jog brief sessions and my heart rate was flying. Reached Rogers in 1:20 and took 5mins to eat and look at the map. It was a bit windy, but warm. More boulder hopping down to the saddle and flew up Warren arriving in 1:50. Hoping to thumb a ride back down the road I jogged SE down to the road. I ran about a 1/2mile or so until the first car came along and gave me a ride. A quick and fun run day up high for a little therapy from packing/moving.
Boulder Mtn (13,528),
Mt Mamma (13,646), Grizzly
Mtn (13,140), “Lo Carb”
(13,591), Cyclone Mtn (13,596), Carbonate Mtn (13,663), Cronin (13,870), White
Titles: “ABA (All But Antero)”; “A winter hike for Ken Nolan”;
“Another >10K and >10 peak weekend”; “Southern Sawatch Grand
Slam”; “Why do I keep waking up at 3am?”
London Mtn (13,194); “Repeater Peak” (13,548); Mosquito Peak (13,781); Treasurevault Mtn (13,701). 8/23/08. Mosquito Pass Rd TH. 7.5miles, 3400ft. I slept in the car and woke up terribly unmotivated. With options a-plenty I started hoofin' it up towards Mosquito Pass while a cool light show started in the remaining clouds. I decided to save Evans for another trip and head up the NW ridge of London arriving on the summit after an hour. Cool quartz up here! Back the same way, then up the East ridge of Repeater, on the summit after 2hrs. Giant solar panels and a building up here. A food break then north to Mosquito, it looked long but only took 35mins, really felt like I was dragging. More mining junk on the north slope and I got on the summit of Treasurevault in just over 3hrs. It would've been easy to continue to Tweto/Arkansas, but those will have to wait for another trip. Dropping into Mosquito Gulch sure was pretty... lots of lakes and green slopes, back at the car after 4hrs and headin' home! What a great peak-baggin' w/end!
13,832; 13,811; Redcloud (14,034); Sunshine (14,001); “Sundog” (13,432). 9/4/08. 15.5miles, 8000ft. Winter and fatherhood are soon approaching and I had some vacation time to burn, so a trip to the San Juans was in order! Denali and I left Wednesday afternoon and arrived at a nearly empty Silver Creek-Grizzly TH just before dark and just enough time to drink a couple beers and eat some leftover spaghetti. It got chilly fast so we hunkered down in the back of the Subaru to read and fall asleep early. I slept through my 5am alarm but managed to hit the trail by 6am, needing a headlamp for 15-20mins. It was cold enough that I wore my soft shell jacket, fleece hat, and gloves. Then again, this time of year I’m never quite ready for chilly mornings. Boogying up the easy to follow trail I stopped frequently to watch the sun light up Handies behind me. It didn’t take long to hit the steeper part up to the Redcloud saddle. The sun felt great, but the breeze was enough for me to keep the jacket on. Heading towards 13,561 I couldn’t remember if it was ranked or not, so I scrambled up the loose talus anyway, arriving after 2hrs. A quick snack for me and a bone for Denali before dropping back to the trail and over to 13,832. This ridge is really cool looking with grassy smooth slopes on one side and jagged cliffs on the other. Dawson warned me that 13,811 looked pretty darn far away, so I knew what to expect and just plodded along looking for clouds but couldn’t find a single one in the sky. Standing atop 13,811 after 3:10, we chowed some more and did a photo shoot of Denali with Redcloud in the distance. Following the trail back towards Redcloud we hopped up the 13,632 bump to check out the steep drop-off. Back at the Redcloud saddle I thought about just heading down, but auto-pilot directed me up the switchbacks towards Redcloud’s summit. It’d been almost 7 years to the day since I last visited these peaks so I couldn’t resist. Standing on Redcloud’s summit after 5hrs I remembered how far away Sunshine looked! More snacks and bones before heading in that direction while checking out the route up/down “Sundog”. Still not a cloud anywhere to be found and I sure was enjoying this more then being at work! It only took about 40mins to reach Sunshine’s summit where I watched Denali try to find a comfy spot to lay down but rocks kept jabbing him in his under-carriage until he gave up. After a long break we headed down the west ridge of Sunshine down horrible talus slipping and sliding around. The ridge to “Sundog” doesn’t present a trail until you are right up on it. Some 2+ scampering and a couple false summits before we were on the true summit after 7hrs total. WooHoo! 5th summit of the day and the San Juan weather was treating us kindly. More steep and unbalanced talus down the north ridge eventually putting us below treeline and right at the south fork of Silver Creek where we wanted to cross! We took a long break on the leftover avalanche debris so Denali could eat snow cones and cool his paws. Back at the car after 8:10 where beer and flip-flops awaited before another photo-shoot for Denali in the old cabins and heading down the road to Cataract TH to meet Dawson for Friday’s fun! Along the way were some young bighorn sheep playing on the roadside cliffs and chomping on some weeds.
Jones (13,860); Niagara(13,807); Crown (13,569); N. Crown (13,599). 9/5/08.
13miles, 6000ft. One
of Bob’s few remains Centennials, it worked out perfectly that we could meet
at the Cataract Gulch TH on Thursday night! Friday morning
we easily bounced up to the Cuba Gulch TH in Bob's Expedition just after 6am.
Denali proved that with 15hrs of sleep he’s ready for another big day. Hoofin’
up the Snare Stairs was a great warm-up and the clear morning had me hoping that
another great weather day was in store. Leaving the 4x4 road, we headed north up
a valley and eventually on American’s south ridge after being stared down by a
pack of bighorn sheep. After a
couple hours of non-stop chatter, we solved most of the world’s problems and
reached the summit of this peak that just missed the cut for a Centennial. Clear
blue skies were the theme of the day and we could easily see the rest of our
route up, down, and along the ridges to the southwest. After a nice long break
we followed the faint trail through the talus and across the tops of some sweet
looking couloir climbs coming up from American Basin. Pretty easy terrain except
for the occasional hand needed for a hop
and a skip over the loose rock on the steepening route up Jones. A little over
an hour after leaving American, we were on the summit of Jones taking another
long break and moving on to solve the problems of the galaxy. We sat for 30mins
taking in the awesome views all around and snapping tons of pictures. The one
lone cloud in the sky 100miles away had us concerned, so we finally got moving
again. Easy stuff down to the Jones/Niagara saddle and the 600ft up to Niagara
went fast as well on a good trail. Rio Grand Pyramid and The Window could be
seen on the horizon as well as the Trinity’s and many other cool peaks that
dot the skyline all
around. Another good break and a nap for Denali before we made the obvious
decision to head over to Crown and North Crown as well. Why not?!... perfect
weather and feelin’ good. More loose talus but cool colors on the rocks as the
strata changed from white to gray to red within 100ft or so. Down the south
ridge of Crown we slid down some snow and squeezed between some snow/rock on our
way to a beautiful valley full of small lakes. We stopped at just about every
one of them to take pictures before finding the 4x4 road again and following
it back to Cuba Gulch and a cooler of icy beers. Aaaahhhhhh! Back
to back 5-peak days in the San Juans sure can’t be beat. I was tempted to
stick around and hike Half Peak on Saturday, but decided to save it for another
time to backpack into Cataract Lake with Jean. Denali slept the entire ride home
sprawled out on my sleeping bag and mat in the back of the car, I’m pretty
sure he had fun too.
Tweto (13,672); Arkansas (13,795). 7/2/09. 7.5miles, 2750ft. 3.5hrs. Started at Mosquito Pass Rd heading north up the 4x4 road and headed directly up the ridge between Tweto and Buckskin. Some fun light scrambling to the summit of Tweto. From there just a ridge run over to Arkansas with some light snow to cross. Cool looking ridge! On the way back I skirted around Tweto, which was loose scree and annoying, then down back into the valley from the Tweto/Treasurevault saddle.
Mt Meeker (13,911); 6/4/10, 11.5miles, 4800ft, 7hrs 17mins. When Roach describes a climb as “One of Colorado’s finest mountaineering routes”, it’s a must do. Climbing extraordinaire James asked if I wanted to head up Dream Weaver on Friday…. I was willing to skip out of work to do it, but fortunately I already had the day off. Wayne and I were kicking around ideas of what to climb and this made it an easy decision. What wasn’t so easy was getting to sleep for a few hours to wake up at 11:30pm! Met James in Denver at 12:30am, and we were at the Longs Peak TH waking up Wayne at 2:30am. No matter how many times I’ve gotten to wake up Wayne, it’s still fun since he’s not what you’d call a morning person. James headed up the trail to get his blood going and I listened to Wayne moan while setting a PR for getting ready. Not knowing what conditions would be like we brought along some ice and rock pro, two 8mm X 30M ropes, harnesses, crampons, ice axe, and a second tool each. Up the trail by headlamps and only the first two switchbacks were dry. The rest had snow that was a bit soft already and showed the signs of plenty of previous postholing. Time cruised by quickly and it wasn’t long before we were sinking in the snow-covered willows. Only one major excavation for Wayne that almost required a front-end loader. After 1.5hrs we caught up with James right at the Chasm Junction just as the sky was starting to brighten. Around the corner we could start to see the route and the sheer beauty of the area. The first snowfield above Peacock Pool had some real nice steps kicked across it. Some bog hopping to another snowfield and it was time to gear up once we hit the apron after 2.5hrs. Crampons, axes, and harnesses with the ropes and pro close at hand if needed. I went with an axe and a tool, Wayne went with just an axe, and James went with two tools. Though steps already on the apron, the snow was very inconsistent and we had a heck of a time making much progress without spending a ton of energy. The higher we got, the better the snow. This was James’ third time on this route and he pointed out that it seemed like a ton of snow over previous years. The first constriction came quickly and it was an easy up and over with the big steps already kicked in. The snow got a bit steeper afterwards and it felt like a giant stair-master. The second constriction had some ice on the left and rock on the right. A combination of a swing or two with the tool, and crampons on dry rock with awesome hand holds. Got my heart beating a bit, but we didn’t feel the need for the rope yet. Soon we were level with the top of the Ships Prow and the awesome window looking towards Longs. Man, what a spectacular area! T’was a bit breezy up here, but nothing uncomfortable. The third constriction is just above here and typically a chimney, but mostly full of snow this time. We made quick work of that as well, still enjoying the pre-kicked steps. The fourth and fifth steps had short sections of very sticky water ice, and it was pretty easy getting up and over them with a swing and a move or two. Pure bliss! One last bit of steep snow and we hung out under some rocks stuffing our faces with food since it’d probably be too windy on the summit for much of a stay. Once up on the ridge we ditched the crampons and scrambled up over and around the bouldery ridge. After 5hrs we were on the summit! Woo-freakin-Hoo!!! Our summit stay was short and after the usual pictures we headed NW towards The Loft to find the secret ledge on the way down. Rock hopping and some snow sliding before we found the correct snowfield. We didn’t use crampons, but it would’ve made things slightly more comfortable. We zigged then zagged, and I only got Elvis-leg once looking over the ledge beyond the sloping snow. Before long, it was a glissade and plung-step delight to lose a ton of elevation real quick. Back at the apron we exchanged another set of fist-bumps and the smile couldn’t have been whacked off my face with an ice axe. Another group was just starting up Dream Weaver, seemed a bit late and I couldn’t imagine how soft the snow was for them. We took lots of pictures on the way out and I was kicking myself for not spending more time in this magical area. Thank goodness they haven’t paved a highway up here for the lazy tourists to enjoy it also! Back on the trail and we made quick work heading down while slipping and sliding around. Even jogged a few sections trying to make record time back to the cars. Its always nice putting in a full day before 10am and the adrenaline kept me going all through the day and night with the icing on the cake seeing the Flyers win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals that night. Dream Weaver is definitely in my top 3 favorite climbs of all time.
Ice Mtn (13,951), N. Apostle (13,860); 6/11/10, 10.4miles, 3580ft, 10hrs 15mins. Possibly my last chance to do a snow climb this season, the Refrigerator Couloir has always been near the top of the list and Bruce has wanted to climb Ice together for a couple years now. Once again, Wayne was all over this one. With 4wd we were easily able to get to the 10,600 gate 2 miles past the S. Winfield TH on Thursday night. We pitched the tent and slept for a few hours before a 4am wake-up call. On the trail via headlamp a bit before 5am with a nice clear and star-filled sky above. Just over a 1/2mile to the wilderness boundary and another 1/2mile to Hamilton on easy level trail, perfect timing as first sunlight was lighting up the Apostles. We found a large ice covered tree to cross the river…. Sure didn’t want to fall in this one. Careful walking and a butt-scoot got us all across dry. The trail starts to gain a little elevation here but the crux was going over, under, or around all the large downed trees….. must’ve been a couple dozen. Crossing another creek we picked our way through the willows on the path of least resistance up to 11,400. At the waterfall below the lake we took Roach’s advice and bypassed the cliffs to the north, now we’re finally gaining some elevation, and hit our first patches of snow. Surprisingly, it was rock solid. After 2hrs we were sitting above the lake at 12,200 taking a nice long break to eat and get on some gear. The avy path’s and debris proved that the recent warm week has made this place a shooting gallery, with the largest debris field coming out of our destination. Our crampons barely made a scratch in the solid snow and we made our way up to the apron of the Refrigerator Couloir at 13,100 arriving a little after 3hrs. The good news was that the recent avy took out most of the loose snow and rock, the bad news was that it was mostly water ice underneath! Wayne was wishing he brought an ice tool and Bruce and I had our ice tools out from the start. With an axe and a tool I felt comfortable the entire way, Wayne was doing a little extra work to make sure his ice axe got some real solid purchase. There was about a 3-4ft deep trench that the avy took out of the center and we found it easier in the beginning to stay along the side, but the higher we got and the more constricted the couloir got, we climbed right up the center of the trench. Steeper and steeper the higher we got requiring a delicate move or two to stay attached. The steepest part right at the top was actually the easiest since we were able to kick deep and solid steps. A wee bit of scrambling to the actual summit for about a 3 minute stay given the dark clouds moving in. It was only 10am, but the sky was gettin’ angry. Wayne headed towards West Apostle while Bruce and I started down the standard route. I was a bit nervous that we didn’t know the exact route, its class 3 reputation, and the changing weather. We only saw an occasional cairn near the top and picked our way down the loose and steep rock. Luckily the clouds started to rise and didn’t look as threatening. About 13,700 we lost the route and instead of staying on the ridge, we picked and slid our way down one of the loose gullies making it up as we went. We seemed to be getting too low and kept contouring towards the next rock rib. Luckily, we were able to find a path of least resistance at each one. Eventually we were lower then the saddle with N. Apostle but found a steep snow finger that we were able to kick steps down to meet up with the trail to the saddle. Easy goin’ from here! We hopped up the large blocks to the saddle then the easy 1/4mile and few hundred feet to the summit of N. Apostle. Man, the view of the ‘Fridge from here was freakin’ AWESOME! One of those views like “we just climbed that?!” As we looked over at the summit of W. Apostle we could see Wayne topping out as well. Sweet! Contact via radio’s and a rendezvous was set for down in the valley. Just under 7hrs into the day and we could finally breathe a little easier. Rock hopping and snow sliding back into the valley where the posthole-athon began. I knew it was coming… I didn’t read a single TR of this climb that didn’t include crotch-deep postholing. We had snowshoes on our packs, but they wouldn’t have helped. A couple steps on the surface, then balls-deep, couple more steps and/or stumbles, then knee-deep, repeat for way too long. Let the strings of curse words begin! Finally back above the lake where we met up with Wayne and exchanged stories of the spicy descents. Wayne put back on his crampons for a lap up the Apostle Couloir while Bruce and I picked our way down the steep dirt and through the willows again. Back on the trail and an easy cruise out to the TH finishing in just over 10hrs. Man, what a fun day! A little bit of everything on this one and a mighty fine route.
Pennsylvania (13,006), Evans B (13,557); 8/6/10, 15.6miles, 4330ft, 4hrs 20mins. Skipping a Pikes 3-2-1 to nab a couple more 13ers I parked along a mining road on the way up Mosquito Pass. Jogging whenever I could I was on top of Bald Hill after just 35mins. Despite all the no trespassing signs, I stayed clear of the mines and equipment heading west to the summit of Pennsylvania. I didn't stay long since the clouds were starting to darken and continued west towards Evans B. The mining seems to have stripped away half of the peak along the ridge. From the summit of Evans B I jogged most of the way north to Mosquito Pass. Cool info on the sign up there. Then jogged the entire way down to the car, except a couple stops to read the signs about mining and for Denali to get drinks out of the stream. Pretty cool that they have a windmill up here in the late 1800's.
Horn (13,450), Fluted (13,554), Little Horn (13,143); 11/24/10, 12.5miles, 5670ft, 9hrs. Started from the Horn Creek Spur TH at 9am with most of our gear on already. Wind howling up high. Easy to follow the trails up to Horn's NE ridge, avoiding the wind on the south side. Goggles and more gear on at treeline, summit after 3:40. No sense stopping, we just kept heading west. Cold toes and getting occasionally blown around. Once heading south to Fluted we got knocked down several times, blown all around, and visibility dropped. Fluted summit after 5:10, once again... no reason to hang around Fun scrambling, getting blown around, covered in ice, Denali was miserable, sliding all around, couldn't see squat... what a great day! Little Horn summit after 6:10. Down the slippery snow covered grass to the south looking for the Horn Creek Trail. Deep snow in the trees, eventually found the trail and put it in cruise control. Darkness came, headlamps went on, snow was flying, back at the truck after 9hrs. A fun ass-whoopin'!
Spring (13,244), Comanche (13,277), Venable (13,334); 1/7/11, 12miles, 5165ft, 10hrs 10mins. A long overdue hike with Bob and Wayne, absolutely perfect weather... ~35degrees, sun all day, barely a breeze. Started at the Comanche/Venable TH and headed up the Comanche trail, left the trail at around 9900ft on Spring's NE ridge. On with the snowshoes and slow-going until treeline. Snowshoes back on the pack then a long ridge-run with some fun surprises along the way, on the summit after 5hrs 10mins then we took a nice long 25min break in perfect weather. Wayne and I boogied towards Comanche while Bob started towards Venable. We were cookin' along and only took 35mins to Comanche. Didn't stay long and started traversing towards Venable on some icy rocks, slipping around, and some post-holing. On Venable after 7hrs and the sun was setting fast. Bob started down to the ridge to find a way down to Venable Lake, Wayne and I caught up and we picked our way down. Back in the valley was deep snow and some cursing while tripping over downed trees. Found the trail and smooth sailing back to the TH after a couple hours of snowshoeing via headlamp.
Thirsty (13,213), 13,123, Cottonwood (13,588); 5/21/11, 14.2miles, 6300ft, 9.5hrs. Hot Springs TH. New snow and high avy danger changed plans for a snow climb so I met up with Wayne, Dwight, and Mark on this combo. I couldn't get Denali out from under the bed at 2:45am and was at the TH by 5:45am, clouds were low but was a good temp. Dwight started an hour early. Big stands of old aspens and beaver ponds, hit new snow after a few miles, and caught up to Dwight after 2.5hrs. Into the clouds and wind, but we were able to mostly stay on the trail. Hit the saddle a little high and on top of Thirsty in a whiteout after 4hrs, snowshoes were used but not absolutely necessary. Icy ankle-buster rocks. Wayne was going to go south to Lakes, but the weather changed his mind and we headed back north to 13,123 after a quick snack. Passed Mark on the way who was doing just Thirsty and caught up to Dwight on the summit of 13,123 after 4:40. He was building a giant rock arrow for us to Cottonwood. Visibility was low and no reason to dawdle. Easy and fun ridge to follow, slow going, on Cottonwood after 6hrs. Took a nice long break in the wind and snow then reversed. Same fun going the other way and finally started clearing a bit near the summit of 13,123. Followed the trail from the saddle back back to our tracks and an easy march out.
Eureka (13,507), Hermit (13,350), Rito Alto (13,794); 6/10/11, 10.1miles, 4380ft, 5hrs 20mins. "Eureka Like Shit Couloir". Me, Wayne, Denali. Dropped Miles off at school and we headed out of a foggy and drizzly Colo Spgs at 7am. Cleared up closer to the Sangres and we bounced up the familiar Hermit Pass Rd. We parked at 10,500 but could’ve driven up to about 11,500 before the road is blocked by a snow drift. Hiking up the road we noticed several nice snow lines on Eureka, the Sangres never seem to have a shortage of them. At 12K we left the road and dropped to the mostly ice covered Horseshoe Lake. We hopped across rocks and squishy patches of grass to the other side and crossed a short snow field. Hhhmmm, the snow felt amazingly stable under our boots despite it being about 10am! A quick consultation and we were heading for one of the nice snowlines we saw from the road. The snow was in great shape, though we kept an eye out for rock missiles potentially launching from above us. We traversed over then started heading straight up. Wow, what a nice surprise! We didn’t have crampons, but an axe and stiff boots was plenty on the 42 degree snow. Once the snow ran out on this line, we hopped over a rock rib and right onto another snow line. This got a bit steeper but still in great shape. As all snow climbs, they eventually run out. This one dropped us onto the 12,750ft plateau after a nice little scramble exit. We certainly weren’t planning on a sweet 750ft snow climb, but loved it! Given Wayne’s frequent flatulence and the name of the peak, calling it “Eureka like shit couloir” seemed appropriate. With a little bit off planning, we could’ve jumped on the line that goes right to the summit. Shortly after 2hrs we were on both summits of Eureka and its cool slanted rocks. T’was a beautiful day and hardly needed more then a single poly-pro shirt. Food and laughs, then back to the plateau and over the 13,005 bump towards Hermit. We’ve both been up Hermit, but I wanted to get to Rito Alto so it was necessary to go over again. We were going at a pretty good anaerobic clip but both of us not willing to tell the other to slow down, always seems to go that way when Wayne and I hike together, good stuff. On top of Hermit just after 3hrs and no need for a break so we continued north to Hermit Pass. The snow was mostly avoidable and melting fast. We got right into stride once again going up Rito Alto’s south slope and after a little snow ridge near the summit, we were there in just 30mins after leaving Hermit. Snacks, stories, lounging and pointing out all the peaks around. Back down the ridge and we slide down the snow to shorten the trip to Hermit Pass Rd. Easy couple miles back down the road to the truck in 5hrs 20mins.
Glacier Ridge6/24/11, ~11miles, ~5000ft, 9hrs. Me, Wayne, Kevin Smith. I’m tired of hearing the alarm go off at 12:15am, but watching the sunrise on Longs Peak’s east face makes it all worthwhile. We started from the Longs TH at 3:30am by headlamp and made quick work of the familiar trail that Kevin curses every time. After the eight switchbacks and right before the bridge, we took the “winter shortcut” to save a 1/4mile and get stuck in bushes. After only 1hr and 20mins we were at the Chasm Junction and talking with a couple guys heading up The Notch. Kevin gave them route advice and a casual warning of their late start. We crossed the frozen snow above Peacock Pool and headed towards Chasm Lake, it’s still mostly iced over, but we were able to easily get around the south side. This was my first visit to Chasm Lake and it was great to finally see in person all the climbs that Kevin was pointing out. Low clouds on the horizon, so we took our time getting geared up at the base of Flying Dutchman while we waited for the morning light show on Longs. Right at 6am the east face turned cool shades of red and the 12:15am wake-up was forgiven. The recent snow on Longs made the top layer a bit punchy, but nothing un-safe. Wayne kicked us great steps going up while we joked around and shared stories. The slope was in the lower to mid 40’s and slower got steeper. At the “crux” the snow was still real deep and there were a couple inches of ice covering the rocks. We didn’t feel the need for the rope of crap loads of pro we brought along, and each took our turns getting some solid picks in there. Nothing but fun! Steeper above and soon after we were in the sun, the snow was getting soft real fast. We cut to the right to take a peek at the top of Lambs Slide and Broadway, such an amazing place! A traverse back to the left and a long break in the rocks at the top of Flying Dutchman after ~4hrs total. Wayne had a hankerin’ to visit the top of Ships Prow so we did the short scramble to the SW ridge, also known as Glacier Ridge. That way didn’t go easily, so we ducked around the west side and found a gully that led up directly between the two small summits. Typical Longs Peak rock all around with big wobbly boulders and solid slabs. Wayne squeezed around and up to the top of Glacier Ridge and we tossed him the end of the rope to belay me and Kevin up. Probably 4th or low 5th class. The Garrett register had only 6 names in there since 2003, the most recent close to a year ago. We replaced a sling and rapped down back to the small saddle. Next Kevin put in a couple cams and led the short pitch to the top of Ships Prow, again 4th or low 5th class. He belayed me and Wayne up and we sacrificed another sling for the rap down. This helped to justify bringing all the pro and rope. Heading back towards The Loft, Wayne and I made quick work of the 0.3 miles to the top of SE Longs. SE Longs is right at the top of the vertical wall to the south of The Notch and it was quite airy looking down. Amazing and humbling! Kevin was cooling off in the slush of The Loft and we grouped back up about halfway down with easy plunge-stepping, traversing, and some facing-in. No crampons needed, but there was a bit of a berschund about halfway down that we took care not to slip right into. The glissade the rest of the way down was quite speedy, but interesting since it was just like sitting on top of a slow moving, slush filled, wet slide. Now the death march back to the TH. It went quickly as we had beers on our mind. Almost exactly 9hrs later we were back at the cars and on our way to Oscar Blues. A fantastic climb in a stunning area!
Mascot Peak (13,435); 8/5/11, 11miles, 5680ft, 4hrs 24mins. After Yale from Denny Creek TH. PPM training, new grid spot, and new 13er with Denali. Loose and steep ridge from Yale. 1:35 to Yale, 2:15 to Mascot, 3:00 back to Yale, 4:24 round trip.
Powell Peak (13,208), Taylor Peak (13,153); 10/20/12, 12.5miles, 4500ft, 9hrs 45mins. Met Wayne, John, and Deb for Powell-Thatchtop Ice Field (Coopers #42). Started at 6:20am from Glacier Gorge TH, took a few hours to get to the base of the climb above Sky Pond. Very windy and cold. Wayne and I took the steeper right variation while John/Deb went left. Inconsistent snow and sticky ice. I got stuck a bit, worked through it then went into nervous, get the heck to the top, make every swing stick, mode. Topped our around 11:40am, Wayne was up soon after with frozen hands, then we went over where John was belaying Deb. I scooted up Powell since it was right there, then we traversed north along the windy ridge, summitting Taylor while in the neighborhood. Down and over to Andrews Glacier for a foot-slide down and eventually the trail back to the car. Awesome to get out on some October ice!
Pauite Peak (13,088), 6/29/13, 10.5miles, 4K. Pictures. Snow climb up a thin/steep line along with Little Pawnee with Wayne. From Brainard Lake. Hoping for Audubon too, but thunder and lightning on the ridge had us quickly retreating down a scree gully with a couple interesting down climbs. Snow got up to about 70 degree and the steep constriction.
Potosi Peak (13,786), Coffeepot (13,568), Teakettle Mtn (13,819); 6/7/14, 6.3miles, 4600ft, 9hrs 45mins. Pics here. Day two of snow climbs in the San Juans. Back to the 4x4 TH at 5am again and straight up the snow slope skirting the cliffs to the Potosi saddle. Fun snow ridges near the top. We dropped about 600ft to the base of the North Couloir and the fun began. Steep, consistent, and great conditions all the way to the summit. Definitely a classic climb. Once all 5 of us were up, we lounged, then headed down the same way, very carefully. Coffeepot was next, lots of strange volcanic looking shattered rocks up there. Wayne led the 20ft 5.2 crack and belayed the rest of us up. BK and Kevo headed down, while James, Wayne, and I eyed up Teakettle in darkening skies. We saw foot steps and weaknesses in the cliffs. I was doubting this summit. Up the black gully, traverse left, up another gully, terrible snow, traverse left, and boom.... we were at the summit block! Wayne led this one too, we spent about 30 seconds on the summit the high-tailed it out of there down 3000ft of snow just as it started snowing on us. An incredibly satisfying day.
Mt Guyot (13,370), 4/8/16, 13.7miles, 3,400ft, 7hrs. A BC ski with Kevin and BK from out side of Jefferson up/down the SE ridge. Snow blocked the road which added 4 miles each way skiing the road. Up through the trees then the ridge until bootin' with skis on our packs. Had my attention on the cornice near the top. Kevin lost his helmet and I lost my camera case. A fun ski down in corn dropping into the bowl then slogging back down the road.
Bushnell Peak (13,105), 7/1/16, 18.6miles, 6,500ft, 9hrs. Part of the aborted-due-to-weather Northern Sangres Traverse.
13,500, Twining Peak (13,711), 9/2/16, 4.6miles, 2,200ft, 3hrs. A night hike from Independence Pass with Runkle.
Grizzly Peak (13,988), Garfield Peak (13,780), 9/3/16, 7.7miles, 3,000ft, 5hrs. A couple high 13ers with Runkle while he was in town. Started with a little drizzle, some clouds, some clear skies. Steep and loose up to the ridge, a fun ridge to the summit (2.5hrs), more fun over to Garfield (1hr) then scree skiing all the way back into the valley.
13,712, 11/4/16. A bonus peak while doing Shavano and Tabeguache.
Mt Aetna (13,745), 3/27/17, 3miles, 2,800ft, 3.5hrs. While staying at the Lost Wonder Hut a snowshoe up Mt Aetna was in order. Crappy steeper snow near the top and a nice glissade down. Have to go back for the other 13ers in the valley.