I had all sorts of delusions of climbing the Crestones this weekend, but Friday afternoon rolled around and I was completely unprepared to make any sort of a trip.
I called kumo and talked him into meeting me in the Park Meadows Mall parking lot at 3:00 AM to make the drive down to Lindsey instead. We planned on taking the North face, and on the trip down talked about how we had heard the NW ridge is a better alternative - solid rock, but one problem. It's class IV - something I'd never attempted before.
Kumo was all fired up about giving the ridge a shot and I eventually relented and said we could take a look, but I didn't feel like taking the ego hit bound to happen if I had to wuss out on the ridge and backtrack.
Anyway, we made it about halfway up to the TH before we learned...
The sunrise going up the road was breathtaking.
Beautiful Sunrise looking back down the road
This was shortly followed by...
This road takes FOREVER. I believe it's close to 20 miles of dirt road, the last several of which are pretty rough for 2WD. High Clearance is necessary.
To backtrack a few weeks, I climbed Longs with kumo and forgot my sunglasses. I only realized my gaffe once we were above treeline, so I went sunglasses-less. It was miserable - I hate not having my sunglasses for driving during the day, much less climbing. I vowed to never make this mistake again.
Fast forward two weeks, and we come to...
If at all possible, I will forget my sunglasses. We made it only about a quarter mile down the trail before I realized this time. I believe I eeked out a "$&%#, not again!" before I sprinted back to the car to grab them. Crisis Averted.
The post-dawn sun kissing the dramatic face of Blanca Peak
We made decent time up to the saddle and got our first look at the crux of the NW Ridge. For any of you who have not done this route, the lighting early in the morning is terrible. A borderline class IV crux with maybe two to four more difficult moves looks like a fifty foot vertical face from the saddle in the early morning light.
Notice what the NW Ridge looks like in this light
I turned to Kumo and said something along the lines of "No." It may have been a lot more colorful than that.
Kumo was not deterred and talked me into going up and giving it a look. I hemmed and hawed but eventually agreed...
Your friends probably are more fun than you are, so listen to them.
Thank you, Kumo. This was the most fun I've had on a mountain. The rock was delightfully solid, the exposure didn't bother me, and the moves were challenging without making me feel like I was over my head or out of control.
We quickly moved up the crux - it really is a 20-30 foot section with only about 5-10 feet of what I assume was easier Class IV. We went straight up the crack and veered just left for the last 10 feet.
Climbing the Crack
Maybe an awkward picture, but this was the crux. Only about a 10 foot section but near vertical and smaller handholds. Fun, but took it carefully.
From here on it was Class 2+ / easy Class 3 to NW Lindsey and 10 minute skip to the actual summit.
Kumo on NW Lindsey with Lindsey in the background.
It was a gorgeous day, and we spent thirty or so minutes on the top.
It was hazy, but notice the Crestone group in the distance
Summit Pic with the Blanca group behind us.
Trying to avoid slipping on the North Face is about as easy as trying to descend a water slide covered in dish soap.
Coming down was sucky. We descended the North Face and it is everything it's cracked up to be. Steep, Loose, and NO FUN.
This was the best part of the descent of the face... and it was still Grade A Suck
If you look closely, you can see people descending the bottom section of the face. This should give you a idea of the slope and suckiness of it.
If I did it again, I would descend the ridge - the moves were not that hard and we honestly probably could have gone down faster on the solid stuff than on the loose crap that makes up the North Face.
Trying to look too cool for Lindsey. Notice how much nicer the crux looks in this light.
What you don't see is Kumo trying to pet him...
I highly recommend the NW Ridge on Lindsey as a first foray into Class IV climbing. I found it to be an excellent confidence builder and a lot of fun!