Mountain and Route: Mt. Lindsey via the North Face Gully
RT Mileage: 10.6mi
Vertical Gain: 3850ft ascent, 4200ft descent
Party: Adam (AFDusmc) and Karthik (theotherindian)
After driving close to 5 hours, with the supermoon glaring menacingly and what seemed to be an eternity through the dirt road, Adam and I found ourselves less than a quarter mile from the Lily lake TH. A short jaunt on the road to the TH and we were on our way, admiring the imposing view of Blanca and the meadow in the foreground.
Blanca from a distance
This area has a lot of pointed things
The trail wandered aimlessly below treeline gaining an impressive zero elevation in close to two miles. When we finally started heading up, we took the wrong route. We missed the trail, if there was one, that heads into the gully but instead took the slope to left of it which was a snow bump to the side of a boulder field. After some steep climbing though hard snow and boulder hopping, we caught a glimpse of the basin. We realized we were probably a couple of hundred feet above the basin we were supposed to be in. After another bout of rock hopping and minor post holing, we rejoined the actual trail and worn out snowshoe tracks. The last mile had taken forever and we were considerably energy depleted, but the view of Blanca and Ellingwood sure lifted our spirits.
Blanca, Ellingwood and a top notch sky
Soak in the views
After long grinding walk through the basin admiring the views of Blanca, Ellingwood and Iron nipple and equally long hike up to the saddle, some concerns regarding the weather started popping up.
Iron Nipple? Or something next to it ...
Adam heading to the saddle
This area sure rocks!
What initially seemed to be just evaporated snow rising up, seemed to get more formidable with the wind smashing and churning them together. By the time we reached the saddle, large fog clouds started covering up the basin and some darker clouds started moving in from elsewhere too. The view on the other side of the saddle didn't lift our spirits much.
The hiker and the mountain
Shy Ms. Lindsey
The hike up to the base of the gully was mostly non eventful. We were so exhausted by this time and with the weather moving in, the thought of north couloir was completely erased from our minds. We put on our crampons, parted with our packs and continued to head up through the boot ladder.
Rest before the test
The snow was surprisingly good and traction was a non issue. While I was quite jittery about getting down on this steep snow, Adam kept assuring me the snow was perfect for heel stepping on the way down. I would later find out he was spot on. After climbing two hours on Missouri's soft C couloir two weeks ago, the Lindsey gully seemed very short. After the notch, we went to the left but I refrained from going too far to the left through the snowfields and tried scrambling up some solid rocks to the false summit. Adam, by now had reached the false summit and had a big smile plastered on his face assuming it was the summit. I was secretly wishing it was true but knew from previous reports there is another 0.2 mile to the hike. We finally made it to the summit after 7 hours from the TH. We clicked a few pictures and then started heading down, with concerns about the weather still on our mind.
The true summit
Puffy ones, above and below
Somehow made it!
The hike down was largely uneventful upto the basin. But the postholing fest started soon after. Adam started cruising down the trail and I took my own sweet time to get down. I eventually stepped into the stream underneath the snow on one of the million postholed steps of the day and wet both my shoes. I also had to cut back through downed trees and deep snow to the trail we ascended to retrieve my snowshoes. For the day, I ended up carrying snowshoes for about 6 miles but not having them when I needed the most. I still had four more miles to go (my car was parked near the national forest entrance) and I took almost 3 hours walking slowly in soggy shoes. The drive back through the dirt road took forever and the last thing I needed was rain all along I-25 for a grand 200 miles but Colorado had other plans.
Cya Lindsey ... one last look
Well, parts of the hike were miserable, but in the end I hiked on those 'pointy' peaks. Those are called mountains, right?