| Buckskin-A Great Centennial Winter Climb
Loveland Mtn. (13,692) and Mt. Buckskin (13,865)
Crew: Johnson, weschun, themuffinknight, rosom314, JohnP FTC, globreal
Climb date: November 09, 2011 (Yes, I realize we didn't do this in calendar winter, but in "winter-like" conditions.)
10 Miles, 3,200 Vertical feet
Start Time: 6:45am
End Time: 2:37PM
Mt. Buckskin as seen from the summit of Mt. Democrat.
Barry Johnson and I haven’t climbed together in months. He contacted me with his upcoming three days off and so I checked the weather for those days. We’ve had several snow storms already this fall, and the first day in a long while that had a forecast of zero precipitation and low winds, was Barry's third day off… a Wednesday. So, the peak was chosen, the plan was made, and the post went up on the forum.
Who would have thought that you could round up a climbing party of 6 people, midweek, and for a peak that wasn’t a 14er? But it happened!
In fact, Nick and his climbing buddy even drove over all the way from Nebraska to join us. Yep, the Pillsbury Dough Boy has been quite the traveler and is Nick’s best bud because of his love of muffins. Which is where his screen name comes from: themuffinknight.
Our trailhead was up the Kite Lake road about 2 miles from Alma, and then we veered left on Forest Service Rd. 182. This turn is below the normal winter closure and the Paris Mill Mine. (note: Google maps doesn’t show the FS Rd. 182.)
Hiking up this old road is really easy to follow through the trees and it’s a nice mellow grade. The amount of road that is in the trees is only about 1.3 miles, and so if you have to use snowshoes that's may be all you need them for. Once out of the trees, the snow was less due to the south-facing aspect which is sun exposed. We chose to cache our floation devices here and save the weight.
We continued to follow the road west, to go under a wide slope which had a steeper angle to it. (Sorry, didn’t think to get a picture of that which would have been to our right or left in the picture.) However, if you continue to take the road west which we did, you’ll by-pass that steeper slope and easily be able to avoid any potential avalanche danger.
I took a picture of John and Ross….I just thought they could have passed as brothers.
The winds had been high all week, and yet the forecast was for only 10-20mph winds in the morning. This proved to be true and we were walking straight into them going up this wide ridge.
After hiking for a while, were got a view of our ridgeline curving around to the right/north. Getting this view made the point of why it’s all the more important to stay away from those cornices. I wouldn’t want to break through a cornice AND go off a cliff as well!
The majority of this ridge is quite wide which makes it easy enough to stay clear of the cornices. And the grade is very mellow. In fact, the majority of this hike is totally avy safe.
Coming up to the summit of Loveland Mtn. the wind was still blowing. The forecasted low temperature for Mt. Democrat was to be zero degrees which made for a chilly morning with those winds. Glad that they weren’t those 50-70 mph winds from the days we had earlier!
Wes had some pain in his ribs which was making hiking at altitude all the more difficult. So, he turned around. This left only 5 of us to summit 13,692 Loveland Mtn. (I am behind the camera on this one which is why you don't see 5 people.)
Coming off of Loveland Mnt. there is a little bit of talus negotiation to do, which was not as easy as all of the tundra tromping we had been doing. This view is looking back south to Loveland.
However, it’s not to difficult as there is a trail below the ridge all the way from Loveland to Mt. Buckskin. And with this being the west side high up on this mountain, I would think it would remain pretty windblown most of the snow months so avy danger could be nil most of the year on this side.
Approaching the summit of Mt. Buckskin, the ridge becomes more of an actual ridge. Unlike that super wide, 6-lane freeway we had been on approaching Loveland. But it’s still very mellow compared to many other ridges in the state.
I reached the summit and checked my watch…11:30am. We had stopped along the way 4 or 5 times to let our group reconvene. So, total hiking and stopping time came to 4:45 minutes. Just under 1 mph for the 5 miles. This might be a good guide for others wanting to do this hike. Once on the summit of Buckskin, looking on northwest you can see the “other” Buckskin. Roach’s book, Colorado Thirteeners, says that this southern bump is 5 feet higher than the northern more “peak-like” summit. As it turned out there was a peak register on this bump stating this was the true summit.
Looking northeast, Mt. Democrat stood proud and majestic lording over Lake Emma. Mt. Cameron is far right in the photo.
Ross and John….welcome to Mt. Buckskin…a Colorado Centennial! If you look closely, you can see the snow covered trail and it’s nice white line below Loveland Mtn. behind them.
Nick had turnaround after reaching the summit of Loveland. He said, that “coming from Nebraska, one 13er was enough.” So, there were 4 out the 6 of us that made the summit of 13,865, Mt. Buckskin. That’s Tweto you can see off of Barry’s right shoulder.
The forecast predicted that the winds would die down during the middle of the day and that’s exactly what happened. So, we actually took our time on the summit and hung out for 40 minutes enjoying ourselves. Barry had brought some hot, spiced chai tea in a thermos to share. Wowser, that sure hit the spot!
From reading a trip report, someone had mentioned how they didn’t want to re-summit Loveland Mtn. So, I made a point to check the amount vertical feet you would have to re-climb. It’s only 150 feet drop from summit to saddle. And you can stay on that trail below the true summit and go around Loveland. So, it’s really not much to re-climb on your way home.
Our hike back to Loveland and back down was uneventful until we came across this! I mean, an antique mattress spring? Not what I would expect to find out on the open side of a mountain! I realize this is mining county with lots of history…but I’ve come to realize most of those miners didn’t practice LNT (Leave No Trace!)
Yes! This was the forecast I had been looking for…a big bright fireball and blue skies! And now that winds had died down, we all started shedding layers on the hike home.
This is a great hike for winter. The majority of the terrain is mild, with avalanche free slopes and views for miles! (That's Pikes Peak off in the distance across South Park.) I highly recommend this one when cabin fever is setting in during those frigid months of November through May, and when the avy danger is high throughout most of the state. This climb will most likely be a safe outing.
We all decided to wear our snowshoes out as opposed to schlepping them on our backs even though we really didn’t need them. The hike from treeline to car went rather quickly…only about 45 minutes. And during the way we were awarded with a nice reminder of where we has just been.
Travel time from the summit of Buckskin all the way back to the car was only 2 ½ hours. This made for a 7 ¾ hour day out. So, even in the shortest of winter days, this one should be possible for most people to do within the daylight hours. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):