| A Great Year up High - 34 Peaks
My quest to finish the 14'ers started in Fall of 2009 while back home in Colorado for a semester of school. I grew up in Colorado not having explored much more than simple day hikes. Ironically, I got into climbing while going to school in the North-East. My love for climbing and the great mountains of Colorado soon became an insatiable obsession. Despite no longer living here, I have made every effort to climb while back at home. The following report is an outline of the best year I've had starting 17 September 2011 up until 15 September 2012. My summaries are brief, but only because the pictures do more justice for the experience. Here is an outline:
17SEP11: Humboldt after failed attempt of Peak to Needle traverse (weather)
25SEP11: Evans - Sawtooth - Bierstadt
15OCT11: Harvard - Columbia
04AUG12: La Plata
08AUG12: Holy Cross
18AUG12: Missouri - Iowa - Emerald
27AUG12: San Luis
01SEP12: Redcloud - Sunshine
02SEP12: Uncompahgre - Wetterhorn
05SEP12: Torreys via Kelso Ridge - Grays
07SEP12: Little Bear
11SEP12: Windom - Sunlight
12SEP12: Eolus - N. Eolus
15SEP12: N. Maroon - Traverse - Maroon
Humboldt - Having got home in the fall, I was eager to hit some peaks before all the snow moved in. With a couple climbing partners we set out towards S. Colony Lakes to complete the Crestone Peak to Needle traverse. We arrived at Cottonwood Lake only to be socked in for quite a long time. We gave up the traverse and heading back over Broken Hand Pass. I was still set on getting a peak, so I headed up Humboldt as the weather had began to slightly clear. End result - I had to run down the mountain because of rapidly changing conditions. Nothing gets me moving faster than lightning and sleet...
Humboldt as the weather rolls in.
Lincoln/Cameron/Bross - This was my second trip to this cirque. A couple years prior I went with a classmate up to Kite Lake but weather stopped us from doing any more than Democrat and Cameron. This time, I approached Lincoln from the Quartzville Mine site. The only trouble on this mountain was finding a legal place to park... Great day though!
No summit photo on Bross..
Yale - Drove up the night before to sleep at the Denny Creek TH. Saw no one on the way up and enjoyed the summit for over an hour all to myself and in perfect conditions.
Pikes - Having hiked Pikes three other times from Barr Trail, I was ready for a change of scenery and RT length. Started from the Crags Campground and had yet another perfect day of weather.
Evans - Sawtooth - Bierstadt - I was in Denver for a wedding and since I still needed Evans I decided to hike up from Guanella pass and decide on Evans whether or not to do the Sawtooth. Besides a dozen mountain goats, the summit of Evans was vacant as the road was closed. The Sawtooth was a much more enjoyable climb to Bierstadt than the trail.
Longs - This majestic peak has always been a high priority. Doing the Keyhole mid-week in late September meant that once again, I would have a day in Solitude (on Longs..??). After reaching the summit I was surprised to see an aircraft buzz the summit and rock its wings as I waved - amazing experience!
Huron - The beauty of this area speaks for itself. Was a great day on a great mountain.
Princeton - As easy as this beast is, it took me three trips to finally reach the summit and because I didn't have a 4WD that meant hiking the road three times... The first attempt was so windy I could not even stand up after leaving the road for the remaining trail. The second temp the entire mountain was enveloped by clouds. Third time was an absolute charm and after finallllly summiting I was elated!
Harvard - Columbia - Spent a great day with a good friend climbing Harvard and traversing over to Columbia. Very glad to come up the north side of Columbia...
La Plata - Back home once again, I received a call from my cousin expressing interest in climbing a peak. Having just a couple Sawatch summits left, I decided La Plata would be a good choice. Despite the fact it took 12 hours for their first peak, they did great.
Holy Cross - With the reopening of the Tigiwon Road I was itching to get this beautiful mountain. Despite hiking on a Wednesday, I saw a lot of other hikers. Although the return climb over Half Moon Pass is taxing, it was still a fun day.
Missouri - Iowa - Emerald - My friend Phil was now tackling the Centennials and I was trying to finish my second to last Sawatch. For the third time, I hiked up the "memorable switchbacks" of Missouri Gulch. After topping out on Missouri we left to summit Iowa and Emerald. I learned how enjoyable high 13'ers can be - less crowds/equal beauty.
Massive - The southwest slopes were an intense quick way up this enormous mountain. One of the simplest climbs, yet equally amazing. I was joined by a group of hikers from the Beaver Creek hiking club. Sawatch Complete! A simple as many of these peaks are, they are responsible for fueling my addiction early on.
San Luis - Wasn't able to leave Colorado Springs until 10pm. I got to the Stewart Creek TH at 3am. Needless to say I slept in and hit the trail at 8am. Especially on a longer haul like this, I don't like leaving so late, but no regrets on this peak. Saw one other hiker, but had the "shy" summit to myself.
Handies - Anxious to return to the San Juans, I arranged a weekend trip to climb Handies/Redcloud/Sunshine and maybe more. Simple peak with some of the most unique colors.
Redcloud - Sunshine - Not the best weather, but things worked out. The connecting ridge to Sunshine was surprisingly long, but provided great views of the Grizzly Gulch area.
Uncompahgre/Wetterhorn - The previous day on Redcloud I briefly mentioned heading over to snag Wetterhorn the next day. Everyone in our group was feeling good so that we did. I left the group early in the morning to head to the West Slopes of Uncompahgre. After summiting, I radioed the rest of the group and headed off to Wetterhorn to meet them for the remaining Class 3 portion of the peak. I think these two peaks offer some of the best views in Colorado.
Wetterhorn from Uncompahgre
Uncompahgre from Wetterhorn
Torreys via Kelso Ridge - Grays - I have done these peaks multiple times, but the ease of access and terrain have led to overcrowding as everyone knows. Kelso ridge was a great change of pace for this area. Saw no one going up and 100+ on the way down.
Little Bear - Trip Report
Windom - Sunlight - FINALLY!! I was able to make the time to take the train to Needleton and Chicago Basin. I was joined by Michael and Bryan (his finishing trip). The weather was less than ideal the entire time we were in the basin. This is the first time I ever reached the summit of a peak before sunrise. We left for Windom at about 230 am and topped out around 515. The weather was still iffy but we continued onto Sunlight. After finally reaching the infamous summit block, we decided Eolus was not going to happen until the next day.
Eolus - N. Eolus - Bryan was anxious to finally finish the list. Arriving at Twin Lakes socked in, we decided to move forward cautiously. As we reached the Catwalk - the clouds cleared and the peaks were ours!
N. Maroon/Maroon Traverse - Was quite a somber day because of a tragic fall on N. Maroon Peak. The traverse, however, was an amazing challenge!
I am unsure if I will ever have as great of a year in the mountains. Already looking forward to next year!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):