Overall it was 9.5/10 Great weather, great company, and amazing views.
An epic adventure born from just being down for whatever opportunities came my way. It began Friday morning with Nathan asking me if I wanted to go to his cabin near Breckenridge. "Sure". Then it was do you want to go jeeping with his parents. "Sure". Then we ended up driving up the road to the trail head not on purpose. This was the trail where you can do the loop the includes four 14ers over this roughly 8 mile hike. So at first we grab all the water we could and decided to just do Mount Democrat and see how we felt and what the weather was like. The hike was just tiring as with most 14ers and is all just up hill. Once at the top Nathan and I chatted with some CSU alumni and did the customary victory photos. Then we waited for Nathans parents. Then did the photos again and then I talked Nathan to do one more peak. So we headed down to fork in the trail that lead to Mount Cameron. This hike was a little steeper but shorter and we were making great time and passed a lot of people. Once at the top we took in the views that now included the other three 14ers; because from Democrat and the parking lot it is hard or impossible to see Lincoln. Then we were all excited to get at least one more before weather set in. It was a sort of jog/ speed hike to Lincoln. Absolutely amazing views from the tops of these peaks and the trail in between. Lincoln was one of the coolest peak I have ever summited it was very different from the others we did on this day. Then we set off to conquer our 4th peak of the day and catch up to some friends we had made as they had summited before or after on the other 3 peaks and we had been past and past them on the trails all day. Once there we talked for a little while and then we sat down for a snack and they headed out. Then came for a very difficult descent as it was all lose rock and very steep for most of the hike down. It was fun sliding and jog down.
Overall it was 9.5/10 Great weather, great company, and amazing views.
6 am wake up call followed with a little snacking. Then we headed out on the very short drive from Breckenridge to the Quandary Peak trail head. The day was as good as you could ask for when attempting a 14er. The sky was the perfectly clear and the temperatures was perfect. We began our ascent at about 7:30 am. The trail starts by winding its way through the trees. Once we were about to climb above treeline we encountered our first herd of Sheep. This was awesome because of how close they were and the fact that there were lambs with them, which is not something you see all of the time. Off again up the slopes of Quandary. With just a few break thrown in I made it to the top around 11 am. Since this was my first 14er I decided to take a long break at the top to both catch my breath and enjoy my views that were both well earned and awesome. My father joined me on the summit shortly after I got there. Then after an hour at the summit I made what was a very fun half jog half hop down Quandary. My only stop was due to another herd of sheep blocking the trail. It was awesome to get down it took only about an hour and a half to cover all of the distance off the peak to my truck. Then it was time to kill mosquitoes while I waited for the rest of my party to come off the mountain.
Likability 10/10 The only things I recommend is to bring lots of water as I ran out at treeline on my way down. That was also a reason for my haste when getting off the mountain.
Stats for selected route:
9000+ ft total vertical gain
Mt. of the Holy Cross: 14,005ft Rank: 51
From Tigiwon Rd continue onto halfmoon trailhead, once you reach the pass you will drop roughly 1000ft into the valley of the east river. There are many campsites available with good places to camp. From there continue on the the north ridge trail, a fairly easy, well maintained trail that will take you to the summit. Halo Ridge loops around counter clockwise to the other side of the valley. There is no trail along this path and you will encounter hands-on scrambling. Reaching the beautiful Notch Mountain Shelter should be the highlight of the trip, with a beautiful view of Holy Cross that you can actually see from inside. From there you can just follow the very visible Notch Mountain Trail back to the parking lot.
We started late July 15th, around noon. From the beginning there was a serious mosquito problem that plagued us till we got above tree line the second day, not even the monsoonal rains could stop them. The first day was fairly easy, a gentle continuous climb to the top of half moon pass. Once we reached the pass we could see some incoming weather from the northeast, and when we saw the lightning we knew we couldn't wait around and enjoy the views. The rain/hail hit, me and mike dawned our rain gear (mike's was a bit ridiculous) and continued on. About 3/5ths the way down the west side of the pass we found a large natural shelter right off the trail and waited out the remainder of the storm. The campsites were well marked and had plenty of clear, flat areas to put several tents. We set up camp and settled down for the night. That night was near constant thunderstorms, rain and a bit of hail. I had trouble sleeping and worried about the bear bag with all our food in it not being waterproof, and more troubling, my less than waterproof rain coat containing my camera and cell phone in it which I was ironically trying to dry off. But I was too comfortable and too lazy to go outside and fix it.
The next day, with our alarm set to 4:00 am we woke up to find it was still raining and happily hit the snooze button and finally got up at 5:00. I found my daypack which we had used as the bear bag to be soaked, luckily our food was fine and so was my camera and cell phone. We cooked some strange tasting Mountain House breakfast skillet thing, hydrated up and headed out at 5:45. As far as 14ers go, the north ridge hike was simple and easy even though it looks pretty dramatic on the way up. The trail was well maintained and the gradient was nothing crazy. Once at the summit though, everything changed. Now there was no more trail, you couldn't really get lost, but until you get to the Notch Mountain Shelter you'll mostly be rock hopping. There were three peaks we crossed over on Halo Ridge: 13,831ft, 13,373ft and 13,248ft. Notch Mountain Shelter was the highlight of the trip, a beautifully rustic building with the most incredible view of Holy Cross you can get.
Now I have some explaining to do, originally our plan, once we got to the shelter, was to go off trail (if you could really call it a trail) to the bottom of the valley and follow the river back. But when we saw what options we had to do that, we realized it would be much to dangerous and time consuming to be worth it. So we tried to continue over notch mountain and back north to Half Moon pass. Unfortunately we failed to realize that "the Notch" which the mountain had been named was (without the proper gear) impassible. We therefore made the decision to follow the trail back to the parking lot. Once there we were pretty tired and decided to go ultra light in order to backtrack to get back to our campsite and pack it up. I only brought a water bottle, no layers, no raingear no food. All I had on was a t-shirt and shorts. We made it up to the pass pretty quickly but like yesterday we saw an incoming storm. It was getting cold and windy as the rain started to fall. I pushed myself into a run, remembering the shelter a few miles ahead. We were soaked once we found the shelter and immediately took off my wet shirt and warmed up pretty fast. Once the rain had died down we hurried back to camp, sloppily put all our camp stuff away and GTFO. It was nearing night as we reached the pass again. Turning on our headlamps we headed back down the wet trail, dizzy with exhaustion and damp with the light drizzle that was still upon us. After what seemed like too long we made it back just as the rain picked up again. We threw our wet stuff in the back, and fell into the car. It was 9:00 pm.
Mt. Bierstadt: 14,060 ft Rank: 38
Mt. Evans: 14,264 ft Rank: 14
The purpose of this trip was to climb two Colorado 14ers, Mt Bierstadt and Mt. Evans, in one day. Let me first mention this route is very dangerous, time consuming, and difficult. By the end we were tired, frustrated, hungry and glad to still be alive. Only experienced and determined climbers should attempt this route.
The morning started bright and early at 3am at Kevin's house in Evergreen, CO. We made the 1hr 30min drive to the trail head at the top of Guanella Pass. We thought this was just going to be a simple 10 mile loop hike up a couple mountains and through some fields but we were dead wrong. The hike began, before the sunrise, at 5am with Mt. Bierstadt and the Sawtooth visible in the distance. When we reached 12,500 ft we encountered some hikers headed down the mountain. They informed us that the conditions at 13,300 ft were "terrible" and decided to head back down. We disregarded everything they said and continued hiking. As we climbed higher into the clouds, visibility worsened. The visibility had decreased to about 20 ft and made us rather disoriented not knowing where the summit was. After hiking straight up the mountain we rose above the clouds and were surprised to find the summit so quickly. We had reached the summit of Mt. Bierstadt in only 3 hours and felt great! From the top of Bierstadt we could see the Sawtooth ridge very clearly and were amazed how steep the assent was. This is where the route changed from class 2 hiking to class 3 climbing.
We began the decent on to the Sawtooth, which was right off the bat a hands on technical decent.There was little snow on the route but the snow that was there made things very difficult. I had my ice ax out in case I slipped and began to fall down the icy mountain side, which did happen at one point. As we struggled down to the bottom of the ridge we could see the accent would be even worse. The beginning of the accent was about a 100 ft vertical accent. While climbing we were surprised to see a mountain goat staring directly at us from atop the vertical accent. After coming within 10 ft of the mountain goat it ended up moving and turned out to have a baby with it! The last portion of the Sawtooth took us to the other side of the ridge where the exposure greatly increased due to the large cliff to the left of, what could barely be called a "trail". What made this part even worse was all the loose rock that kept falling, not to mention giant boulders above us that looked like they could give any moment. Once we had passed the Sawtooth portion of the route we thought it would be just a simple short hike to the summit of Mt. Evans.
The short hike to the first false summit of Mt. Evans was relatively quick and easy. After that there was another huge boulder field to struggle through. At this point Kenneth had pulled ahead to where me and Kevin lost sight of him. After reaching 14,000 ft we were really starting to slow down due to lack of oxygen and energy but we pushed on thinking the summit couldn't be too far away. One false peak after another really started to eat away at our motivation and the realization of how far we were from the trail head didn't help either. Finally Kevin and I could clearly see the actual summit and were devastated at how far we were from our goal. At this point I got a call from Kenneth, letting us know he had reached the summit. At this point there was some threatening weather quickly approaching so Kevin and I made the tough decision to slowly start heading down as Kenneth caught up with us. We then struggled our way through yet another boulder field and were relived to get through it. The next portion of the route was a quick 2,000 ft decent down a rocky chute to the north east of the Sawtooth. For once we all expected this portion to be rather difficult.
At first the chute wasn't too steep and just a little rocky but that quickly changed. The trail turned into another steep, boulder filled, hands on decent which then turned into a very steep loose rock decent. I slipped and fell onto a patch of snow and pretty much fell until the snow patch turned to rock. After that, completely frustrated with this trail, I decided to glissade (which is the technical term for sliding down a mountain on your butt) down the rest of the chute; not caring how dangerous I knew it was. Kenneth and Kevin soon followed, after disregarding how stupid an idea it was, when they realized how much fun I was having! The glissading took us down the remaining 1,000 ft and into our worst nightmare! The reaming 3 miles or so were hell as we battled our way through marshes, deep snow fields and large patches of willows. At this point there wasn't much of a trail to follow so we had to start making decisions for ourselves. We had trouble deciding which side of this creek to stay on as it quickly turned into a rushing river of snow melt. After some arguing, we picked a side and stuck to it. For awhile the path we had chose was dry and easy going. Then as we were within 200 yards of the car the trail had turned into a deep, muddy and disgusting marsh! It was just a final slap in the face as we were so close to the end. At this point we couldn care less as we trudged through the marshes as our boots, socks and pants became soaked and mud covered.
Finally reaching the car was like the best feeling in the world as we finally knew the death march was over. We took off our soaked and soiled clothing, got into the car and began the trek home. My legs were too tired to drive manual so I coasted down the road by keeping the car in neutral the entire way down Guanella pass. We had began the hike at 5am and reached the car at 3:30pm. We had hiked 10.25 miles in 10 and a half hours! I do not recommend anyone attempt this route to spare them the torture we had endured. We had not encountered a single person on this route for obvious reasons.
Thanks for reading,
Just a quick drive from Fort Collins, and then a quick jog up to a good vantage point to view the Blood Moon Eclipse.
Likability: 10/10 A very cool sight, and also very interesting drive and great to hangout with some great people.
Originally, this trip had four members, but due to scheduling changes and trying to doge adverse weather systems it was reduced to two. The road to the trailhead was marked well directly in the center of the town of Alma. We headed up the road passing a few houses along the way with hard-packed snowy roads all the way there. Then we reached a section of road were apparently the snow plows decided to plow in the last house on the road with a 15ft bank while simultaneously blocking the only road to the trailhead. This little hiccup added 6 miles round trip to the hike which was already 8 miles to start out with. To add to this, my partner in crime decided to bring snowshoes whose only method of securing it to the user’s foot would best be described as a single, adjustable rubber strap. This can best be described by imagining buying yourself a pair of flip-flops two sizes too big. It goes without saying…well yeah it goes without saying. But, for the astute reader, one may notice from the pictures that he is still carrying his snowflops (trademark pending) all the way to the top. I honestly have no idea why he did this. Anyway, we walk along the road to the trail through this beautifully majestic valley, which ends at an almost dead center view of the summit. It was a fairly intimidating site, Mt. Democrat and the surrounding 14ers are much less climbed than some of the more popular ones in the area and, on a Tuesday in March we were completely on our own. We could see the wind whipping at the top, creating its own micro-weather system. We trudged on. Passing an old mine building and cabin on the way to the trailhead. We made the decision that day to climb Mt. Democrat, partly because it was more snow covered and generally badass looking and partly because it was a shorter hike. Now let me add a note here, our decision may not have been the best due to the moderate avalanche danger that day, but like fools we thought, “Nah we’re good,” and carried on. We decided to take the steepest side of the mountain for our summit route; it was a relatively thinner snow pack with scree field rocks sticking out from it. This, at least in our inexperienced minds, meant that it was less likely to slip on us. It was grueling; I had spikes on my snowshoes which allowed me to hike up the snow with little problems. My associate on the other hand had problems; every step there was a chance he would slip, careening down the mountain face being shredded into a fine pile of man-bacon on the way down. A couple of times I had to assist him on the more exposed areas. We pushed to the top, giving all the strength we had left into getting over that ridge. We made it, ha, yes. What a great view, to south you could see where we had come from, to the west you could see the long expanse of snowcapped mountains stretch on for miles; and to the north you can see…oh, oh no. It was a false summit. We were devastated. I made a wind blocker in the side of the mountain and we pouted for a good 30 minutes. Eating and drinking, not saying a word to each other. We didn’t quit, we left our packs and trudged up the last 400 vertical feet to the summit, took some nectar profile pics, and headed down; the short way down. We galloped, pranced, frolicked and slid our way back down; trying to avoid avalanche prone spots as much as possible. We got back to the car as the sun dived behind the mountains. But we weren’t done, not yet. Like (insert a “we were tired metaphor here”) we slung our gear into the car and like old men we sighed as we sat in the car. I fished for my keys; all I found was partially melted snow. I fished again, searched, scavenged; this wasn’t good. I tore apart my backpack, clothing and every nook and cranny in the car. I couldn’t find those damn keys. They must have fallen out. I am not going back to find them. I’d rather walk back to town. Grumpy in the passenger seat wasn’t all that happy with me and neither of us were ghetto enough to know how to jump a car. To add to this we had no cell service. So, thanks to the wonders of manual jeeps, I was able to coast down the road back to the town of Alma where I then tried to park it near a snow bank. But like a metaphor for my life, the steering locked up and sent us into it at a 45 degree angle. Not suspicious at all. Finally cell service, and after a few choice words my mommy agreed to drive 3 hours to give us the spare key. On the upside we ate at a cozy restaurant called South Park Saloon which had great pizza and very nice staff. But honestly, anything edible would have tasted great at that point.
Things I learned:
1. Camelbacks freeze on a winter 14er trip and then you have to mooch off others
2. Don’t confuse snowshoes with snowflops
3. Never trust a summit
4. Secure your keys
5. Always have a spare key somewhere in your car
6. 14ers are always more beautiful in winter
Possibly the greatest true last second trip I will ever have notched in my belt. What's better then after a late dinner deciding a night hike would be an awesome way to conclude the day? Well it was much better than any regular night hike. Oh my, the night did not end as expected, but great trips never go completely as planned. We began the hike near Grey Rock like my last trip, but we decided it would be just epic to go all the way to the top of Grey Rock this time. At around 11:00 PM we reached the peak of Grey Rock, and boy was it rewarding. We were not done yet not even close we decided it was too great a chance to have a monumental night to not stay up there all night, and wait for sunrise and the awe inspiring views it would provide. It was a long night, but with great company, and the types of fog the gives both a majestic and terrifying experience it was just an amazing night. The fog as not just that but when the moon was finally bright enough to see the scale of the fog movements; it appeared as if we were on a tiny island in a massive sea with waves of fog that would overtake us all night. The fire being our only thing to keep us from the chill of the fog. Only getting better as the night wore on, and then it a climaxed with appearance of the sun giving us some just jaw dropping views of the horizon that could only be provided by our location and weather all coming together at the right time. After all that we still had to leave and that was a great hike out looking at the views afforded us by the sun that we could not have seen in the night. 2/22-2/23/2014
Likability 11/10 If you ever get the chance to summit Grey Rock in the dark with low clouds do it. This was easily at top 3 views and experiences of mine in the great outdoors.