Above the clouds-Mt. Sneffels/Colorado Trail ultramarathon
Above the Clouds - Mount Sneffels
Originally a few friends and I were going to climb Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn. Unfortunately the weather in the San Juans did not want to cooperate that Thursday so we bailed on those mountains. My grandpa and I decided to head to the Sawatch range instead so that I could finish up a portion of Segment 14 of the Colorado Trail. When he picked me up on Hwy - 50 we decided to still head over to the San Jauns in hope that the weather would give me enough of a window to climb Mount Sneffels on Friday morning.
On the way into Montrose we stopped by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The painted wall was an incredible sight.
Painted wall Black Canyon of the Gunnison
We arrived in Ouray to torrents of rain. I thought of Homie who was in the Wilson group at the same moment on his attempt to beat the 14er speed record. He must have been getting pounded by the rain up there.
Date: Thursday, August 24, 2012
Start time: 0630
End time: 0845
Elevation Gain: 1,700'
My grandpa and I, four-wheeled though the clouds and finally emerged from them at the upper trailhead. While my grandpa started heating water for his morning coffee I geared up and set off down the trail towards the first gully. It had rained a lot last night and I could see muddy foot prints all the way up the route which I assumed was from Homie who had climbed the same peak that morning at 3 am.
Halfway up the gully the clouds dissipated, and was clear until I reached the top. The "V' notch about 30 feet from the top of the gully was easy to find.
The views were great from the summit, and I was glad the clouds weren't obstructing the blue lakes. I'd like to take the blue lakes route the next time I am in the area.
Above the clouds
After calling my grandpa on the radio to let him know that I made it to the summit successfully, I turned around and headed back down towards the trailhead. During the decent I ran into two people from Texas being guided up the mountain, and two men one from Arizona and the other from New Mexico. I spoke with them for a few minutes and then kept on going down. The rain had really made everything really loose and muddy so I took my time getting down to the bottom.
Once I was back in the valley I met the wife of guy from New Mexico. She told me that she had climbed Sneffels 30 years ago and it was one of her favorite mountains. Today she was just enjoying the view from the valley instead of climbing it again.
Cloud cover once I reached the bottom
Old Mountain Rescue truck
I arrived back at the trailhead, and my grandpa and I made breakfast burritos. After eating we made our way back into Ouray and then onto our next destination of Cochetopa Pass to meet Rob to hike the Colorado Trail that night.
Colorado Trail Ultramarathon Segments 18 - 21
Date: August 24 - 25, 2012
Start time: 1900
End time: 1755
Total time: 22 hours 55 minutes
Elevation Gain: 8,000'
Support: Augie and Jerry
Rob and I had a goal to complete the Colorado Trail to Spring Creek Pass this year. We had planned on completing the 48 miles to the pass over two days, but at the last minute his request for having friday off was rejected due to being short on teachers to cover his class. Still determined to meet our goal, we decided to do it all in one day. He would drive up from Denver as soon as he got off work and we would start hiking the trail though the night and into the next day.
Rob arrived at Cochetopa Pass with his father Jerry around 6:30 pm on Friday. We geared up and we started down the four wheel drive trail towards our first aid point at the Eddiesville Trailhead. The weather couldn't have been any better, the rain had fallen earlier in the day and had cleared up for the rest of the night. The first part of the trail followed back country roads for the most part, and we past though some great aspen groves. Later we finally split onto a single track trail that followed Cochetopa Creek for awhile until we crossed it and made our way up to the Eddiesville Trailhead.
I thought this night hike would be very monotonous because we really couldn't see a whole lot in the dark but we had a beautiful view of the night sky with thousands of stars.
Cochetopa Pass - Starting point
We made it to the Eddiesville Trailhead 45 minutes ahead of schedule, at 3:15 am. My grandpa had spent the night here to re-supply us and to provide us with breakfast. We filled the bladders on our camelpaks and stuffed food into our packs while he cooked us some eggs and sausage. After eating, we thanked my grandpa for everything and started towards the saddle on San Luis Peak. Many people hike the south ridge of San Luis Peak once they gain this saddle from Eddiesville, it is 2.5 miles round trip from the saddle.
We saw a female moose and her calf right at day break, just off the trail in the willows.
After gaining the ridge our next goal was San Luis Pass, just above Creede. This is where we met the only people we saw along the trail. Most were heading up to climb San Luis Peak, and we met one CDT hiker who's trail name is Flat foot. Flat foot had size 15 feet, and was 69 years old. He told us that he had hiked the whole Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and was finally about to finish the CDT once he arrived in Silverton. We wished flat foot good luck on the rest of his adventure and started gaining the ridge of a few unnamed 13ers along the trail.
San Luis Pass
Ridge before Snow Mesa
To our dismay dark clouds started moving in around noon, which was not good since the highest points on the trail were still in front of us. We pushed on as quickly as possible in hopes not to get stuck on the high ridges when the storms really hit. It started raining on us while making our way around the side of Peak 12813, then we dropped down on the trail as we traversed around the valley on our way to the top of Snow Mesa.
Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn from Snow Mesa
Once on Snow Mesa we were in the home stretch! Only 6 more miles until we'd drop off the Mesa into Spring Creek Pass. The 12,300+ Mesa is huge, treeless, and seems to go on forever. The rain continued and we were getting blasted by the wind. I'm glad we didn't run into any electrical storms because the mesa had no points to bail off.
We both dug deep and kept on trucking across the mesa until we reached the trail leading down to Spring Creek Pass. We contacted my grandpa on the radio and told him we were about a mile and a half away. The last mile was tough; We were wet, tired, exhausted, and ready for some real food. Finally we made it to the pass were we were greeted by my Grandpa and Rob's Dad. After getting a few pictures with the Trailhead sign we drove into town for Dinner at Southern Vittles.
At this point I had been up for 40 hours straight, once we got back to the cabin I promptly went to bed and didn't wake up until 12 hours later.
Finished at Spring Creek Pass
Map of our route
A big thank you to my Grandpa and Rob's Dad for supporting us along the Colorado Trail. It is great getting out into the mountains with these two, and we are glad they enjoy coming along with us. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and story, thanks for reading.
Trip Stats -
Thursday 8/23 - 15.0 miles 3,008 ft elevation gain
Friday 8/24 - Saturday 8/25 - 50.5 miles, 9700 ft elevation gain
Total - 65.5 miles, 12,708 ft elevation gain
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.