| Silverheels. She is tougher than she looks!
Mt. Silverheels (13,822)
Mt. Silverheels as seen from the east side of Mt. Bross.
photo taken January 02, 2011
Crew: globreal, lostsheep5, BobbyFinn, KatieFinn, martynda, robco, milan, ebnhils, Brian Thomas, AdAlta
Climb date: December 11, 2011
Start Time: 8:05am
End Time: 3:41PM
I’ve been on this quest to climb “The Centennials;” Colorado’s highest 100 ranked peaks for a while. Silverheels is on that list and I have saved it for a “winter-ish” day. The day to climb her finally came on December 11th, the day after a full moon as well as a lunar eclipse. I missed the eclipse, but still got a nice view of the full moon above Mt. Lincoln, as lostsheep5 and I drove up Hwy 9 to Hoosier Pass.
The big parking area right off of Hwy 9 was our trailhead. I chose this Hoosier Ridge route as it started at 11,500 instead of 10,900, (which is the elevation of the “West Ridge” route, 2 miles further south down Hwy. 9 towards Alma). The idea of 600 feet of elevation we could drive appealed to me. Also, my friend Weshun told me the story of his “postholing hell” down in the bottom of Beaver Creek which is what you’ve got to cross if you go the "West Ridge route." I chose to avoid that waist deep possibility.
photo taken in the afternoon once back at the car
It seems that we are always late for our intended “boots on trail” time. Therefore, I ask for people to arrive at 7:30am so we could gear up as I wanted to take a group photo before we started at 8am.
L to R globreal, lostsheep5, BobbyFinn, KateFinn, martynda, robco, Milan, Brian Thomas, AdAlta, ebnhils
We did pretty good today. We had all 10 of us hiking by 8:05am.
There was a group that “highjacked” my 14ers.com thread to lead a group up Mt. Silverheels on Saturday, Dec. 10th; the day before my climb. This turned out to be a really good thing as they put in a trench for us & gave us beta that we could do this hike without snowshoes. Thanks, Saturday climbers!
Eric shows us what happens when you get out of the boot pack
Brian Thomas, hikes with Mt. Quandary in the background
Milan shows us how beautiful it can be to hike in the winter months.
photo by milan
Looking up the Hoosier Ridge at about 12,000 feet. We took the route to the south and to the right of this ridge.
Five hikers above KatieFinn as we head east
We stopped to take a break and reconvene before the long hike around the bowl toward the ridge with the powerline pole. Staying south of the east-west ridgeline proved to be a wise choice. We were totally blocked from the winter winds down here.
These are the powerlines and the ridge that you want to hike all the way east to. If you are suckered into the direct (southeast) route, you’ll end up losing much more elevation on your way to Silverheels than you would have probably wished for.
Looking south to southeast, milan took this wide angle shot which shows all of Mt. Silverheels as we are hiking south from Hoosier Ridge.
photo by milan
Looking back down (north) from the route we just hiked up from the powerlines. (There is one powerpole in the photo, just beyond where our tracks go around the lower ridge in the middle of the photo.)
milan too takes the same photo looking back to the north.
Another photo looking back (north) a little higher up. You can barely see the powerpole at the top the photo.
Still below the final east-west ridge up to Silverheels, is this shot of 14ers Mt. Bross, Cameron, and Mt. Lincoln.
At about 11:45, I noticed the helicopter hovering over Mt. Quandary. (It turned out some people had to overnight on the west ridge of Quandary on Sat., and were rescued safely on Sun.)
Dang robco. You are fast and I couldn’t keep your pace! He beat me by a minute and summited at 12:07pm.
Eric comes on up the final west ridge a few minutes later.
This young lad, 17 years of age, is donning the latest fashions…blue jeans and his St. Mary’s Pirates hoodie! (Don't you know about the dangers of cotton?)
Cotton...it’s a joke! This young mountaineer probably knows more about mountaineering than many of today’s folks on this site. No kidding!
Next up….Mr. and Mrs. Finncutter. I love their tradition….they hold hands as they approach every summit.
Then they hug once on top. I’ve witnessed this more than a half dozen times at least.
They are so cute when they hug on every summit.
Once it was all said and done, we had 9 of us on the summit. Not bad for a day that had a prediction of no more than 21˙on the summit with sustained winds around 18 mph.
L to R, milan, bobbyfinn, katiefinn, Brian Powers, ebnhils, robco, lostsheep5, martynda, globreal
On the way down, me, Eric, and Rob decided to hit the couloir for a butt-slide. I felt comfortable doing this after 5-6 super sunny days in a row, to stabilze the latest snows.
robco enjoying a bit of the “easy” (yet more dangerous) way down. Of course, photos flatten out the perspective. It's MUCH steep than it looks!
The glissade had some tricky, windblown and hard-packed snow to maneuver. To arrest with the axe in spots was very difficult and scary. However, it sure beat walking about 700 feet of vertical!
Once out of the couloir, this was looking back up or south. The summit of Silverheels is up above the gully to the left.
The trek back to the car was loooong. BobbyFinn’s GPS showed 8.9 miles. It took it’s toll on all of us. Much more than any of us were expecting. We were all really pooped, but glad to have had another safe and successful day in the mountains. (In fact, that was exactly what I prayed for that morning.)
God is good.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):