This is my first trip report but I hope I can provide some information that will help the rest of the 14ers.com community looking to make a trip to the Sangres...
Peak - Mt. Lindsey (my new favorite 14er)
Route - North Face (a wonderful route for those looking to up the ante a bit from Class 2)
Denver to Trailhead - 4 hours (including hailstorm delay)
Start time - 6:40am
Summit - 10:20am
Summit time - 20 minutes
End time - 2:00pm
Total hike time (not including summit time) - 7 hours
Interesting, perhaps trivial, data for those who, like myself, ever wondered how many calories you burned on a hike. According to a Polar Heart Rate Monitor - 4488 calories burned
After surviving a drive through hell departing Denver, the violent hail storm on Wednesday, June 6, we arrived at the Huerfano/Lily Lake trailhead around midnight and found a nice flat spot to camp. The road was easily passable for my 2000 Subaru Outback, even in the dark.
(The first video as at 10mph and the second video as after we finally pulled over under an overpass near the Castle Rock outlet stores.)
We woke up at 6:00am to a calm, cloudless morning, and hit the trail at 6:40am after breakfast. Descending into the meadow we were greeted by the massive face of Blanca. There were several small stream crossings in the valley that posed no problem whatsoever.
The crossing of the Huerfano River, while not sketchy by any means, required a bit more attention as there was not a continuous, well-established route with large rocks or logs. This could have been because of the water level, but I don't know how the Huerfano typically runs as this was my first time in the drainage.
After the crossing, there were several downed trees and small patches of snow to navigate until you reach the old mine at 11,500, but none of them posed a problem as there was a clear, hiker reroute.
From the mine entrance to treeline, there were a few more small patches of snow but nothing serious. This image shows the largest and we hugged the rock and got through quickly.
From treeline to the saddle, we made great time and enjoyed the incredible views of Blanca, Ellingwood, and Iron Nipple. Once in the saddle the full view of Lindsey emerged and we were happy to see that the snow in the gully was limited to hiker's left.
Once in the gully, the snow was frozen solid and with no spikes or axes we stuck to hiker's right which provided easy passage on solid rock all the way to the notch.
At this point, the North Face required a bit of route finding. Perhaps they are there, but we did not have much luck finding cairns to lead our way. There are two smaller gullies to cross after the notch and we found hiker's left on the 1st gully and hiker's right on the 2nd to be comfortable routes. My buddy tried hiker's right in the 1st gully, and while not as steep, it was a bit looser than hiker's left and required a crossing of the small snowfield.
There is one small snowfield between the gully crossings that requires about 8 steps through well-established, firm footsteps, but now gear is required and the crossing is very straightforward.
Once through the second gully, some small cairns are scattered about if you look hard enough. The summit ridge is easily attainable and the route from there is clear and very easy.
Despite having visited the San Luis Valley many times for both work and play, this was my first summit in the Sangres, and I was blown away by the view of Little Bear, Blanca and Ellingwood, Spanish Peaks, and loved the glimpse of the Sand Dunes, KC, Challenger, the Crestones and Humboldt.
Little Bear, Blanca and Ellingwood
Sand Dunes, KC, Challenger, the Crestones and Humboldt
The descent of the gullies seem easier than the ascent, perhaps because we knew what to expect, but I also felt it was nice to see what was coming and to pick your route with the aerial view.
Upon arrival back at the car, we enjoyed a cold beverage and were excited to see the drive out in the daylight as it seemed thick with beautiful aspen stands when we drove in the night before. This place must be spectacular in the fall and I plan on returning...perhaps for a Lily Lake hike. Mt. Lindsey has become my new favorite 14er.
The beautiful, Aspen-lined road
Thanks for reading, and if you have any recommendations for me to improve future TRs, please don't hesitate to let me know.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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