Mountain and Route: Antero west slopes via Baldwin Gulch
RT Mileage: 11.4 mi
Vertical Gain: 4950ft
Party: Prakash (maverick_manley) and Karthik (theotherindian)
After planning for Antero two weeks back which I chickened out due to forecasted winds, Prakash and I decided on giving it a go on the last weekend of winter. I was supposed to hike Sunshine/Redcloud with Yikes, Natalie and Adam but backed out last minute due to work on Friday. I wanted some snowflakes and Prakash was just out there to enjoy the mountain. We started up the FS road around 5:15am and after the usual running back to the car to pick up forgotten gear, we were on the trail by 5:30.
The road was long, reasonably packed trail with very little elevation gain. The fact that I got all of 150 minutes of sleep the previous night didn't help me much either. Prakash was skinning ahead and I was following his tracks with sleepy eyes, so sleepy that I almost bumped my head on a fallen branch on the trail.
We reached the 4WD trailhead after what seemed like an eternity and reached the switchbacks after two eternities. From here we could either take the switchbacks to gain the ridge and eventually Pt. 13800 or go straight up. We chose the latter and head up through the mellow gully with just enough snow for decent snowshoeing - Cronin all the while watching our backs.
Cronin smiling in the background
Once we reached the bump about 0.3 miles up, we stashed our snowshoes and skis and headed up through the talus field cutting across the trail midway and heading straight up to Pt. 13800.
Looking back at the gully we came up
Maverick_manley's early lunch
Prakash had to stop a lot for me to catch up from this point on but we eventually reached Pt. 13800 at about 10:50 am. From previous trip reports, which mentioned the use of crampons and ice axe on the ridge, my brain somehow had equated it to nasty conditions and was dreading the ridge. However, it turned out most of the snow had melted and there was a good boot-packed trail all along the way with some wind for company. I didnt even have to remove my ice axe and we were on the other end of the ridge in a short while.
The summit ridge
The final 500 or so feet to the summit was steep but on fairly manageable talus and we topped out at about 12:10pm.
Prakash's summit pic
Me visibly irritated with the cold winds
After the customary photoshoot on the peak, we started our hike down and decided to bypass Pt 13800 for the descent. We met Brian Thomas and Steve (big_red_pride) on the ridge on our way down. Steve's camera looked like a classic film camera, but I was too tired to inquire about it.
maverick_manley and big_red_pride hatch a grand plan to relocate the rock pile to Bross
Prakash's decision to bypass 13800 was a good move as we didnt have to descend the steep talus and instead took a mellower route traversing on the side of the mountain. I, as always felt jittery on unstable rock and scree and Prakash waited a good amount of time before I got to the snowshoe stash and continuous snow. We met two other hikers heading up the way we came down. I gave the guy a mental high five for his mustache (its not often you see a beardless mustache in US of A) and I then saw Brian and Steve dashing down the switchbacks and into the snow from the opposite end of Pt 13800. I asked Prakash not to wait for me anymore and ski down to keep up with his other commitments for the day.
Prakash takes off ..
Looking back at Pt 13800 from treeline
After some rest I started down the snow for another 4.5 miles of snowshoeing. The 'summer' sun had worked its magic and transformed the trail into a postholing nightmare. I ran, I walked, I fell, I sunk and at one point felt like Humpty Dumpty having fallen on my back into 2 feet snow without being able to get back up. I am pretty sure Brian and Steve had their share of postholing too as I saw tell tale signs of massacre on the trail. I eventually reached my car at 5:40pm for a grand 12 hours of hiking. I learnt later Prakash had made it back to his jeep by 4:15pm. The weather was a nice parting gift from old man winter and I got to learn a trick or two from the maverick. All in all a good hike to finish off the winter!