December 18, 2012 - Hike to the hut
Start: 12:30 pm
End: 3:00 pm
Elevation gain: 1,465'
Milage: 3 miles
Company: Kaitlin, Andy, Megan, Marco, Jessica, Alyssa, Chelsea, Shawna, and Jess.
My girlfriend and some of her classmates planned a hut trip over there winter break to celebrate the end of finals. They decided on the Sangree M. Froelicher Hut located between Copper Mountain and Leadville. We left the Dinosaur Parking lots off of I-70 around 9:00 on Wednesday morning and made our way up to the Buckeye Gulch TH. It was slow going with the new snow and an accident by Georgetown eventually slowed our progress to a crawl. Eventually we got to the trailhead, geared up and set off down the trail. The 10th Mountain Division recently rerouted the trail, which starts on the other end of the parking lot. The whole trail is very well marked with the blue diamonds.
Group shot at the Trailhead
Follow the blue diamonds
Shawna, Andy, and Chelsea
Arriving at the Hut
It was great seeing the hut finally emerge from the trees. It was only three miles but with the amount of food and wine we brought along our packs were really heavy.
After getting settled in at the Hut we relaxed the rest of the day while playing games and talking with the people who had arrived at the hut the day before. Andy and his friend Jess offered at the beginning planning stages to cook the Dinners and Breakfasts. Thank god we all went along with that idea, they were great cooks. The first night we had Chicken Fajitas (My idea of fine dining in the backcountry is freeze dried lasagna)
December 19, 2012 - Snowboarding, Skiing, and Snowshoeing
The next morning we all got up and had a breakfast of Chorizo Breakfast Burritos. A weather system had came in during the night and gave us about a inch of new snow, with a lot of cold wind. We knew from the CAIC reports that the snow was very unstable so we stayed in heavily wooded areas on gentle slopes. No shooting cracks or whoomping was observed at all. After snowboarding for a few hours we headed back to the hut for lunch and a few drinks.
Jessica in the trees
Good snow, but too many rocks!
Andy getting some turns
After lounging around the hut, we decided to go for a snowshoe and to practice with our beacons. Jumping in snowshoes is hard.... but it does produce gems such as this below.
Failed jumping photo
Beautiful way to end the day
We stayed out until around sundown, and then went back to the hut to warm up. We broke out the wine and beers (Thanks Kimo for the Black IPA from Santa Fe Brewing suggestion, it was delicious) Dinner consisted of spaghetti with elk meat sauce. Then played apples to apples, hung out with the new arrivals to the hut, and had a few more drinks.
Start time: 8:15 am
Summit Buckeye: 9:30 am
End time: 10:15 pm
Elevation Gain: ~1,500 feet
Milage: ~ 4 miles
Thursday morning we awoke to blue skies a no wind! My goal for this trip was to hike Buckeye Peak, Mount Zion, and Chicago Ridge on Wednesday but the storm kept me below tree line. Thursday I had some time in the morning before we left to go hike Buckeye. Its a fairly simple hike from the Hut. Behind the hut there is a trail that leads you out of the tree line, and onto the ridge below PT 12252.
Slope behind the hut to the ridge
Mount Zion 12,126'
I followed the snow blown trail to below PT 12252 and then headed straight up the slope to the top. The snow wasn't too deep but I did use snowshoes until this point.
Slope to PT 12254
I kept on going north along the ridge and gained the south slope of Buckeye. In Scott P's route description he said to avoid a potential avalanche slope near the "Crux" but today there was no snow on that part to worry about. Below Buckeye's summit there were a lot of Cornice's and a natural avalanche down one of the gullies.
Cornice's below Buckeye
Some natural avy activity
Slope to the summit
Buckeye Pk Summit
Once on top there are great views of the 13ers to the east "Mount Arkansas, Mount Tweto, and friends" Buckeye Lake is completely frozen and covered with snow. I decided to save some elevation on the way back and use the summer route that goes between PT 12252 and PT 12156 but regretted it because the snow in between was deep and hard to post hole through. Staying on the west side of 12252 would have made things a lot easier.
Ready to head back
After arriving back at the hut we cleaned everything up, packed our things, and were on the trail by 11 am. The hike back to the cars was enjoyable because of the great weather, and our lighter packs.
It takes talent to snowboard with a full pack
The Sangree hut was a great first hut experience, and a good way to spend what could be the last days before the end of the world!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the pictures.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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