| Extreme Winds vs. One-piece Expedition Suit
MOUNTAINS: Mt. Bross (or did we?), Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln
ROUTE: Mt. Bross' East Slopes from the Moose Creek TH, standard traverse over Mt. Cameron to Mt. Lincoln, down Mt. Lincoln's East Slopes to the Quartzville TH and a road walk back to Moose Creek
RT DISTANCE: ~12 miles
RT GAIN: ~3,700'
RT TIME: 8.5-9 hours, but we weren't concerned with time
CLIMBERS: Dan (dmccool), Greg (gregory_fischer), Rob (RJansen77), Clay (Claybird), Jeff (SurfNTurf), Brian (darkhelmet1983) and Breanna D.
Before we get started, a few important tips about this route. Parking around the Quartzville TH winter closure is a sticky situation. I lost count of the "No Parking" and "Private Property" signs. We elected to start from the Moose Creek TH at the junction of Quartzville and Zinc roads and left two large 4x4 vehicles there all day without issue in an obvious pullout.
If ascending or descending Mt. Lincoln from the Quartzville TH, STAY ON THE ROAD until breaking treeline. We took a few shortcuts while coming down and drew the attention of the landowner, despite being extra careful to stay as far away from houses as possible. He was very nice and said the route is legal, just stay on Crest Drive or you're on private property.
(Photos by SurfNTurf, dmccool, Claybird and RJansen77.)
After attempting the full Decalibron a week ago from Kite Lake and being turned back by a whiteout after only Mt. Democrat, the remaining three (or two) peaks jumped to the top of my winter list. Dillonsarnelli suggested them for this weekend, but he was only available Sunday. The planning began. Unfortunately, as the weather forecast unfolded and more folks joined the party, it became obvious Saturday was the preferred day. I'm beginning to think the NOAA forecasters responsible for the Alma region make their predictions drunk, however, as the "9-14 miles an hour with gusts to 20" winds in reality were "so this is what skydiving must feel like" winds.
The group that showed up in Alma at 7 a.m. Saturday was a Who's Who list of my preferred climbing partners, with a few notable absences. The two I didn't know beforehand, Greg and Brian, are now new additions to that list. Dan even broke out his all-powerful 1980s The North Face one-piece suit.
Gearing up at Moose Creek. Can you spot The Suit?
We started from our parking spot at Moose Creek around 7:45 a.m. We walked a short distance up the Quartzville Road and then took a hard left directly at Mt. Bross' East Slopes. We experienced some unexpected trailbreaking, sinking to our knees and waists for several hundred vertical feet until we emerged from the trees and were staring our route in the face.
No one got a good shot of the trench, but it was a few feet deep in spots.
The crew nearing Mt. Bross' East Slopes.
Finding an avalanche-safe option didn't require much thought and soon we were on the East Slopes, which were wind-blown and mostly bare. Be warned: the ridge looks short and sweet from CO 9, but in truth it's a heck of a slog. The wind didn't help. We'd noticed spindrift on North Star while driving to Alma earlier that morning, and had experienced a few gusts in the trees, but we held out hope the forecast would prove true. Then we started getting slammed on the ridge. Faces were covered, layers went on, and straight into the downslope winds we trudged. With the wind and several extended group pow-wows to talk about everything from gear to the possibility of getting frostbite on nether-regions, the 2,000-foot-plus ascent took a while.
The first of many group pow-wows throughout the day, with Mt. Silverheels in the background.
Fog layer over South Park.
Climbing the East Slopes as the winds start whipping.
Breanna's under there somewhere.
We may or may not have summited Bross. Ahem. It's possible to bypass the summit around to Mt. Cameron. It is! Anyway, at one point we were on the East Slopes of Bross and then we were deposited either by foot or wind to the Bross-Cameron saddle. Ooooo. Magic.
Past Bross the wind only got worse. For the second time in my life, I put on my puffy to wear while ascending. Even Dan's mighty one-piece suit wasn't enough and he had to pile his down jacket on top of it.
The trail was bone dry over to Cameron. The standard route traverses across to the Cameron-Lincoln saddle and crosses a slope that had obviously slid several times. Rather than cross it, we just continued straight on up Cameron on dry scree and talus. We were in a brief wind shadow while hiking up from the saddle, but once on the summit we started getting blown around again.
BAM! We're transported from the East Slopes of Mt. Bross to the Bross-Cameron saddle.
Time for another group meeting.
Mt. Lincoln, from the Bross-Cameron saddle.
You can see where the standard trail traverses across some loaded snow slopes. We just went straight up.
Wind or no wind, it was a stunning day. Holy Cross looked like it was right in front of us. We didn't linger on Cameron long, knowing Mt. Lincoln was a short jaunt away. The worst wind we encountered all day was descending Cameron toward the Cameron-Lincoln saddle. No one had a wind meter, but it was so strong and sustained I could literally lean into it and it would hold me up. Luckily winds that strong didn't last long. When we reached the low-point in the saddle it calmed back down to 25-30 miles per hour sustained, so obviously we had another group pow-wow.
Breanna and I on Mt. Cameron.
Rob rocking out on Mt. Cameron's lofty summit.
Mt. Lincoln from Mt. Cameron's summit.
Beyond the worst winds of the day, another group discussion. By this point most of our topics centered on cheeseburgers.
The grand prize of the day was 14,286-foot Mt. Lincoln. It was also the most fun section, in my opinion. A short climb over a false summit and a snowy ridge walk later, we were on top. We even found a large area sheltered completely from the wind and took a long time to enjoy the 20-degree temperatures and see-forever views. And also to Newton.
Gaining Mt. Lincoln's false summit.
The crew starts to summit.
Breanna on the ridge between Mt. Lincoln and the false summit.
At least 6x better than Tebowing.
Group enjoying the wind shadow on Mt. Lincoln.
Group summit shot.
Quandary Peak and North Star Mountain
Mt. of the Holy Cross
Mt. Cameron, Mt. Democrat and the Sawatch giants (Mt. Massive, Mt. Elbert, La Plata Peak).
Down Lincoln we went. There was one large snow slope immediately after the summit with a scary snowpack, but it was shallow and I measured it at about 26 degrees. The first few went one-at-a-time, and then everyone else followed. We decided against following the meandering road and instead side-hilled across scree to intersect it down in the Cameron Amphitheater. From there, we followed Crest Drive out, cutting switchbacks at times.
Again, I implore you to stay on the road below treeline. The landowner was friendly and understanding. One of the main reasons I wrote this TR was to help keep people off his land.
Down the snow slope on the east side of Mt. Lincoln.
Rob and The Suit.
The dry jeep trail out.
From the intersection of Crest Drive and Quartzville Road it was a short road walk down to our cars, which we reached at something like 4:30. Sadly, Dan didn't wear The Suit into the South Park Saloon for our post-hike meal.
Thanks again to everyone in the crew for a terrific winter day and three (or two?) summits. I hope y'alls wind burn is healing in an expedient fashion. As an addendum, I learned while writing this that Dillon successfully followed our tracks (aka poached our trench) today.
Walking down the Quartzville Road.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):