| Antero Adventure
My desire to summit Antero was ignited last year on my hike up Princeton, after gazing at the breathtaking peak from Princeton’s ridge.
Antero as seen from Mt. Tigger (Princeton ridge)
Antero was the designated peak for this weekend, even before I knew that this would transform into a group hike, a rarity for me. As it transpired, we ended up with a motley crew of six hikers.
Not enough has been said about the 4WD road which turned out to be the toughest part of the hike in retrospect. Not only does it require a vehicle with good clearance, but picking the right line was also vital to avoiding the nasty rocks that adorn most of this road. At the very start, the road quickly introduces you to the shape of things to come so the “faint of clearance” (or heart, for that matter) can choose to bail right at the beginning. We drove/crawled the three miles up to the stream crossing and a bit past that point before deciding to leg it.
Shortly into the hike up the steep road, 13,870’ Cronin Peak came into view displaying its unique rust and earth tones contrasting beautifully against the clear blue skies.
First view of Cronin Peak
The view of the valley to the northwest speaks a thousand words!
View of the valley
As we crested the ridge, the full majesty of Cronin Peak stole the show.
On the ascent, we stayed on the road for the most part as it zig-zagged its way above treeline.
Trail? No, just a meandering road!
The only detour that we took on our ascent was a well-marked trail offshoot from the main road that soon came into view.
Trail junction in the distance
Close-up of the trail crossing
In contrast, our descent was a bit of an off-road excursion, only some of it intentional!
As we labored up the steeper trail, it brought us to the top of a meadow adorned with spectacular 360° views. The unmistakable pair of Shavano and Tabeguache towered to the South.
Shavano and Tabeguache from the meadow top
Back on the 4WD road, we soon met the first denizen of the area, an inquisitive marmot.
Hey little fella!
Clearly he was quite used to hikers and, perhaps, to their tidbits as well as he stood in rapt attention as if anticipating a treat.
Alex and I, who had set a good pace to that point decided to let the others catch up, and took a brief respite here as we surveyed the double summited Mt. White in the distance, sporting hikers on its ridge.
Hikers on the ridge on Mt. White
My goal was to take option one as described by Bill, figuring we would enjoy some boulder hopping in contrast to walking on the road, but we missed the unmarked detour as we traversed too far east on the road toward the south ridge.
More hiking on the road
Looking back over the rocky terrain shows the road meandering up the south face.
Looking down on the south face
Couple of gentle switchbacks later we were atop the highest point of the road, facing the ridge and the final pitch to the summit.
This is as high the road goes!
A closer look at the ridge route showed the two approaches: the direct ridge approach and a fairly distinct trail running to the east.
Final pitch shows the two options
We had no doubt which trail we were going to take. After meandering up that road, we couldn’t wait to hit the talus. Finally, we would get our boulder hopping cravings satisfied!
Keen eyes will spot a hiker just above us on the ridge, lending some perspective to the size of the boulders and the scale of this final pitch.
Talus, at last!
The trail up the ridge was fairly obvious, but if we had any doubt at all, this able dog scout was there to show us the way!
Don't miss the Lab on the top right!
With no false summits to endure on this one, I was on the summit shortly, looking down on the last traverse.
Looking down the trail
Alex joined me atop momentarily, and here he bisects the ridge between Shavano and Tabeguache in the backdrop.
Alex on Antero
The skies were speckled with some white clouds and the views from the summit were fantastic. Mt. Princeton to the north:
Majestic Mt. Princeton
Cronin Peak to the west:
Cronin Peak and allies
Soon, we were joined by Jim and Brad and had an opportunity for a group shot. 8)
Brad is proudly displaying what looks like a quartz crystal - after all, Antero is more popular among gem collectors than mountaineers!
L to R: Jim, Brad, Raj and Alex
The remaining two hikers of our group, Dave and Carl, joined us shortly, and after basking on the peak for an hour and a half, we headed down. After getting down the ridge to the road, we scrambled up Point 13,800' opting to find the “short-cut” that we’d missed on our ascent, Alex in the lead. Little did we realize what was in store for us.
Up to Pt. 13,800' we go
And down from Pt. 13,800'
Brad headed straight down the west face, while the rest of us veered farther left hoping to find a semblance of a trail.
Brad takes on the West face
Our so-called short-cut proved to be a misnomer as we struggled for footing on the loose rocks and scree and eventually skirted northwest toward the gully where the sand made progress a little easier.
After some thirty minutes of slip-and-slide action, we were finally on the road, the picture below showing the steep west face we’d just descended (not recommended)!
We came down this?
The gully joins the road just before the steep trail that we’d taken on the way up as seen in the shot below.
Gully meets road
Bolstered with confidence from scaling down that nasty face unscathed (mostly), we picked every gully short-cut we could find, three in all, on the remainder of the route, devouring each with glee. Here the boys are having some fun on our second gully descent.
Just goes to show how a little bravado and a sprinkling of stupidity (on my part, in choosing to descend the west face) can transform even a routine “road-hike” into an adventure!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):