6.7 miles +/-
6 1/2 hours (including getting a little off course)
4900 vertical feet (including getting a little off course)
The trailhead is west from the town of Nathrop on Hwy 285 off CR 162. Drive west on 162 to where the pavement ends where you take a right across a bridge to CR 292. Go west on 292 from the bridge 0.5 miles to a 4wd road on the right. There is a "No Camping" marker at the road. You can park there or drive another 0.25 miles up a very rough 4wd road to the trailhead.
I had considered hiking up to Fitzpatrick or 13,050 at St. Elmo but the road up to Tincup Pass was still snowed in.
I drove back down to the Grouse Canyon trailhead.
Truck at end of 4wd road.
The start of the trail is well cairned.
The trail starts off zigzagging through the trees and turns up a steep hill before Grouse Canyon narrows between high rock bands.
I lost the trail somewhat going up and found it now and again.
I was on the trail beneath this large dead tree and rock band. You pass between some rocks here.
Billie Jean striking a pose.
I did not get started until after 10:00 o'clock so I was husting along and did not get too many pictures.
I followed some elk tracks through the trees that followed the trail...
...then up this narrow gully (taken on the way back down)...
...to where it opened up below this rock slide area beneath the ridge towards Mt. Princeton.
I kept going up this gully until I realized that I should have headed off to the west at the rock slide area. I got off course and had to cross over two or three small ridges to get back on the right line.
...over one small ridge where a number of elk had bedded down for the night.
This is below the ridge to Mt. Princeton and crossing a flatter area towards the east ridge to PT 13,626.
The snow blowing on the Mt. Princeton ridge.
Looking back down and to the south.
Looking back down from the last ridge.
It took about 4 hours getting to the summit, including the extra time crossing back to the west. The wind from 12,000 feet and up was blowing pretty good 30-35 mph with the last 600-800 feet in the 50+ mph range. I was getting blown over on occasion slowing the ascent a little.
I did not take snowshoes and booted it the whole way. Once up higher the snow was crusty going up and soft on the descent. I was sinking 6" on average in the snow and a little more in some stretches in the trees.
There was some hardpack snow towards the top to contend with although with the warm weather it won't be there much longer.
Unlike last weeks summit of 13,078 I thought I may be the first to sign the register for 2012 but someone beat me to it by three months (January). This register goes back to 1993 with only about ten pages of names. A peak not often climbed.
Views from the top.
PT 13,626 on descent.
Heading back down. I followed a more westerly line on the way back down.
The return track in my gpx more closely followed the trail and a better line most of the way back down.
Cairns where I tied back into the trail on the way back down.
This picture was taken the previous week from the summit of 13,078. A lot less snow last week. Peaks from the front to back. Unranked 13,299, PT 13,317, PT 13,626 and Mt. Princeton. The register on this peak goes back 8 years and I was only the second to sign in March (no names for January, February, April, May, October?, November and December as I recall)
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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