Elevation Gain: ~5,600'
Time : ~10 hrs +/- 15min depending on desire for PBR back at the car
The weather was proving to be odd for Saturday. 50% chance of storms starting at 6am, and continuing all day long? Do we do a committing Class 4 - Class5 ridge traverse with a forecast like that? Well our purposely small group of 4 was willing to roll the dice. Early start (3:51am), first summit (8:13am), make decision from there!
So rolling out of Scott's Silverthorne condo at o-dark 3am-ish we travel at Moch-4 on I-70 to the first car shuttle trailhead. While I was turning green, Scott was polishing off a trailhead PBR. Couple miles down the road, we find our starting trailhead, and see 2 campers about to do the same route.
The trail is steep and unrelenting at first, but it soon eases to just plain unrelenting after a while. But the miles tick by as we make steady progress up the valley, and we take our first real break by the old cabin.
Photo Credit: Scott
Beyond the cabin the manicured trail is over, but so are the trees. As we went up higher, the sun also rose above the distant horizon, giving us our first good view of the sky. We decided to forgo approaching the saddle for a scree/talus slog. Not recommended! Scott continued up the talus while the rest of us booked it for a nice grass gully - since if there's grass, it goes!
The valley approaching the saddle
Alpenglow on Mt of the Holy Cross
Some fun clouds over Climbers Point
After the grassy gully, it was a short hop and a skip up to the summit. Quite chilly up there at 8am with a stiff breeze. So after refueling and snapping some photos we were off to tackle the ridge.
The Grand traverse
Group shot after ghetto 4-Loco
We'd heard that you can keep the difficulty at Class 3 if you repeatedly drop to the west. But that wouldn't be sporting, so we kept it as ridge proper as we could. That just meant plenty of ups and downs.
At first the weather was holding quite nicely, and we had fun playing around on the ridge. Scouting different ways up and down the ridge features. Quite a bit of class 4 and even some low class 5. Even the down climbs had me stretched to the max, feet by my arm pits.... Other times I had to hang from my arms to lower myself in a reverse mantle, as 5'4" only gets you so much reach!
Just the start of the TQ ridge
Life on the edge
Shawn along the first slab exposure section
The slabby east face of North Traverse Peak
Darrin on edge - Photo Credit: Scott
Climbing with these two is always a party/photo bomb waiting to happen
The cruxy section
Walking with some air and loose boulders
Scott scouting the upclimb
Shawn spanking some rocks
Darrin checking out a gendarme along the ridge
Approaching the V-notch
Glad to be narrow! - Photo Credit: Scott
Mr GQ himself
Shawn making his way out of the V-notch
Somewhere near the last up climb before the summit area, the wind picked up, and the clouds coalesced into something less than friendly. We were in the middle of some low Class 5 dihedrals and looking at a mid Class 5 dihedral with a possibly loose boulder (which had my T. Q.), as the weather turned quickly. Time to stop the fun on the ridge and get to the summit. So Darrin and Scott finished the up climb over the ridge feature, while Shawn and I dropped down and around and bee-lined it for the summit, by passing the last "false summit" and approaching the summit from the west on some fun Class 3 solid rock.
Some C4/low C5 dihedrals anyone?
Looking back at the V-notch
Approaching the summit from the west
Final summit pitch, a bit southwest of the actual summit.
Of course, as soon as we got to the summit, the wind died and the clouds became less threatening again. Darn! At least we were off the tricky stuff before any possible rain. Still we didn't hang around too long and figured a longer break down by Deluge Lake would be best.
Looking back on the Grand traverse
Some nifty light and shadows
Northern Gore Pano
The Lake! And southern Gore
Two happy ridge runners
I think Scott is sad the ridge is over... He should be happy with his free PBR trucker hat!
A pretty stream - Photo Credit: Scott
So after a hard earned climb and some trailhead PBR's (an Uplope Belgian for me), we make our way to the Dam for some food and more beer! Mmmmm tasty!