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 Peak(s):  Adams A, Mt  -  13,931 feet
PT 13,130  -  13,130 feet
PT 13,580 A  -  13,580 feet
PT 13,541  -  13,541 feet
PT 13,517 B  -  13,517 feet
 Post Date:  09/04/2012 Modified: 09/10/2013
 Date Climbed:   08/08/2012
 Posted By:  Marmot72

 Mt Adams and The Ridge to Nowhere   

With yet another clear mid-week forecast but stormy weekend outlook, I secured a Wednesday off to get in a quick day hike. This trip itinerary began as a grand plan I formulated last year, after seeing some forum post about a "Willow Lake traverse" - climbing Adams and then circling the whole basin on the ridge, nabbing Obstruction, Columbia, KC, Challenger and back down. I modified this trek by starting at the S Crestone Lake TH to begin with Pt 13,130 - the idea was to collect all the KC-Adams 13ers, but Pt 13,546 (west of Adams and just north of Willow Lake) represented a problem, as it disrupted the circular pattern. Such a trek was a much bigger bite than this marmot could chew and is more suited to the ultramarathoner than the weekend warrior.

I reached the Willow Lake/S Crestone Lake TH shortly after midnight, slept in the car, and got a 6:15 start Wed morning. The S Crestone lake trail is less traveled than Willow Lake but easy to follow. It passes through scenic meadows, a stand of tall trees all bearded in long trailing wisps of moss, then an area rife with various vibrant mushrooms (some bright red with yellow/white dots), before ushering you into the mountains proper, where jagged pinnacles tower above on all sides.

Here is a view of S Crestone lake. Adams is ahead at left, hidden by the shoulder of Pt 13,130, and Pt 13,546 is directly ahead, slightly to the right. It had taken me just over two hours to reach the lake. That felt slow to me, but I reminded myself that I had gained 2900 feet from the TH. I spent about ten minutes at the lake, enjoying the scenery and orienting myself on the topo.

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I backtracked sixty feet or so from the lake, hiked over some large stones and then contoured easy grassy slopes to gain the ridge of 13,130.

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Along the way, I kept glancing west at the parallel aesthetic ridge leading south to Pt 13,546.

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My way ahead was at this point far less eye-catching - not a bad ridge, just less dramatic - as shown in the next two shots.

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It was 9:40 am when I reached the summit of 13,130, so it had taken me 3 hours and 25 minutes. After moving over 13,130, here's what the route to Adams looked like:

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The views of N Crestone Lake in the basin to the east were arresting - here's one several shots I took of the lake.

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The short ridge connecting Pt 13.1 to Adams was a swift little jaunt. This shot shows the upper part of the approach. There is a wooden cross on the summit that is barely visible in the photo.

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Atop the upper ridge and facing the summit pitch, I walked around to my left (east side of the summit block) and found this great looking climb. According to Roach, I could continue southeast to find class 2 passage, but I opted to climb up this crack. Where does class 4 meet class 5? I would rate this short pitch right at about that intersection.

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I enjoyed Adams' summit - great views all around. This picture shows the view of the ridge south to Pt 13,580, then the rounded mass of Obstruction Peak in the background, and the Crestones beyond that:

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It was 10:25, so I felt like I was making pretty decent time. Unfortunately, my indecision with the route returned. How to go? Pt 13,546 was such a detour from my desired route south, but I felt compelled to try. So I descended Adams' west ridge. Soon I found myself facing some serious pitches to climb down; pressed for time, I descended class 3 terrain to the north to walk down the more gentle but crappy talus of Adams' northwest slopes. This looked feasible at first, but the loose rock hindered progress and I found myself hugging the cliff on my left.

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The ridge drops several hundred feet and the climb from the Adams-13.546 saddle up to 13.546 looked like it was going to eat up time. Since it was Adams' south ridge to Obstruction that really intrigued me, I bailed on 13.546 and simply aimed for the most expedient route back up to that ridge, which meant scrambling back up onto and over the west ridge proper, then climbing up some scree and loose gravelly dirt for a hundred feet or so, and finally making this fun scramble up solid, knobby rock and thin ledges:

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I was on a nice solid ridge, and this is what my way forward looked like:

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It took very little effort at all to reach Pt 13,580. For the quality of views based on the effort, it was an alpine bargain. You can see Willow Lake to the west, and another lake to the east.

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It was after that spot that the ridge got really interesting. It was noonish, and I knew I would not be completing any epic tour of the cirque, but I at least wanted to traverse the entire ridge south to Obstruction Peak. Here's a look at the view ahead:

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I started off and in little time, I found myself considering this downclimb. I remember the intimidating exposure; I honestly can't remember if I climbed down this but was then forced to descend off the ridge to the right, or if I backed off this section and went around. In any event, it was here or right after this spot that I did my first of two contours below the ridge.

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Walking on a broadway beneath the ridge, I could see a much easier route ahead - taking me beneath all of the ragged rock of the ridge.

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This route was not for me; I wanted to stay on the top of the ridge as much as possible, so I did an ascending traverse to get back up top.

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Here is what it looked like to climb back to the ridge crest proper - some class 3 and 4 deliciousness.

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As I neared the top, I found an artifact - a petrified playground ball - a relic from days when Utes lived here and evidence of their alpine four square games.

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I cruised along the ridge, enjoying the expansive views to either side. Soon I was greeted with this wicked knife edge guarding a bulbous bastion on the ridge. I opted to pass right next to the knife edge on the right, because the knife itself looked too loose, and then I traversed right - my second and last significant deviation from the ridge crest - to avoid the climb directly up the tower.

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Traversing underneath this bulkhead, I found this pretty grass-filled chute, with appealing blocks to climb to the right.

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Back on the crest, I relished the on-top-of-the-world feeling, and moved fluidly atop the ridge, which was sometimes straight and narrow as a preacher's words, and other times bloated and twisted like a politician's motives.

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At one point I found myself looking ahead to a high point, thinking I was perhaps nearing obscure point 13.3k, even though my topo showed that further up toward the top of the cirque. When I reached this point, I was surprised to find myself not on a sub-peak but on a fine thin ridge. I found a plastic peanut butter jar with a register begun in 2005 or 2007 with dozen names on it, marking this as some unranked point 13.5 something. Ahead, I could now clearly see the Point 13.3, which is a formidable folded fortress jutting from the east of the ridge.

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Afternoon was moving on faster than I was. I knew I would have to soon undertake the descent to the basin, down past Willow lake and the car to get home for work tomorrow. But I would have time to climb this indistinguished but worthy mini-mountain. This next shot is as I near it and the next is the pitch up its west face.

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About halfway up, I found this incredible flake (upper left of photo) that reminded me of the out-of-the-way crux on Lone Cone.

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I savored the top for a few sweet minutes, then picked my way back down. I took this shot to see how close I had come to reaching Obstruction Peak.

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The climb down into the basin was not hard; I just picked my way down gullies, ledges, and around outcrops. One cool gully passed beneath an overhanging buttress that provided a handhold above my head as I descended the loose terrain. No room for those pics, though; I'm only one away from the limit, so I'll close with this photo I took of Willow Lake on my way out.

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This was a perfect day; time taken off during the middle of a mundane week to enjoy some of Nature's best on a beautiful sunny day. For me this day is a concrete reminder of the truism that life is about the journey and not the destination. I hope you enjoyed the report.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
jameseroni


This is a     2012-09-04 22:26:05
Neat trip report. I really enjoyed the captions above each of the photos, you did a great job of personifying the mountians. What kind of camera were you using? The last photo is a great shot of the lake albeit a bit blury toward the top. Do you have a manual setting? Increasing the aperture (higher number of f/stops) would allow the depth of field to be more in focus, at both top and bottom. Looks like you are focused generally on the lake.

Thanks for the quality work, enjoyed reading it and your report made me want to repeat the route.


Marmot72


camera     2012-09-04 22:35:16
I have a nikon point and shoot. It has a ”Noise Reduction” setting that I used. That pic of Willow Lake was taken at around 4:30 pm; the sky was cloudy but still the day was dazzling bright and I was taking the photo into the cloud-shrouded sun, so it initially came out dazzling but with color washed out. So I played with iphoto a bit to draw out the hues and contrast. I haven't yet learned how to set the aperture speed, though I know it has that and other functions.


jameseroni


Cool     2012-09-04 23:03:13
I'm no expert at photography by any means, but I do know a few basics. The main thing you have to ask yourself is, Is this a depth of field issue where everything needs to be in focus, or am I trying to stop movement. In this case you had a depth of field and lighting issue. If you increase the aperture# on your camera, it will want you to decrease your shutter speed to allow more light into the exposure. This of course, depends on how much light is hitting the filter. If you don't have enough light, you would have to use a tripod or sit the camera on a rock to stabilize it - for a long shutter speed/high aperture# exposure - A high aperture number will make everything in your photograph focused, but it will require a longer exposure (shutter speed) if there is not enough light. The longer the shutter speed though, the harder it will be to get a hand held shot. You may have to put your camera on a rock or use a tripod. You can set the timer to go off, if it has that setting, while its sitting on the rock. That way you acheive the end result of a sharp exposure (no blur from your hand movement) and correct lighting/focus. All of your other photos were great though. I'd be willing to bet if you right click on your original image and go to the photo properties, your aperture setting was low, around f5.7 or f3.5. That could be off base though, based on looking at your other photos which are all in focus at range. The higher the f setting the greater the focus in depth of field.


Mike Abernathy


Nice TR     2012-09-04 23:13:01
Great TR man! I got good betta from every pic, iv had my eye on this one, love to climb it soon


Monster5


Nice     2012-09-05 09:35:45
I paused to admire that lake in image 1 and the 12er to the right in image #3 the other day. Fine looking place - nice description on the route.


SuperPolok


Great TR     2012-09-05 09:43:38
One of the best areas in the state. Adams is a long-time favorite and that area makes for a great loop hike.


nkan02


looks very ambitious     2012-09-05 10:30:21
but thanks for the beta - planning on Mt. Adams soon
Taking your word for it that traverse to Pt. PT 13,580 is doable


geojed


Obstruction     2012-09-05 12:51:07
That ridge to obstruction looks pretty spicy, especially that North Face of Obstruction.



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