Peak: Cronin Peak 13,870’ (R #75)
Elev Gain: 4500'
Time: 9:45 (6:00am - 3:45pm)
Technical Gear: Trekking Poles (No Snowshoes or Microspikes needed)
Travelers: Geojed (Jed), jswiftcervelo (Josh)
Weather: Sunny w/ high clouds, mid 20's, 20-30mph WSW wind
Josh and I started from the Baldwin Creek TH at 6AM. The temperature was 18F, which was quite balmy considering the fact that we had driven through temps of -7F near Fairplay and it was 3F as we passed the Princeton Hot Springs. Gotta love those temperature inversions! We were unsure if we needed to start with our snowshoes on due to the recent snows, but we started up the road in our boots w/ a fresh 4-6in of snow on the ground. It turned out that we never even needed to use our snowshoes the whole day. Which really surprised us as Monarch Ski Area just south of us had received 55” of snow from the recent storms. We booted up the steep road and spent more time shedding layers than actually hiking. We were able to follow the tire tracks of someone who made it up about 1/2mi past the Baldwin creek crossing. They must have had some really good chains on their 4WD. At the creek crossing we got our first view of Cronin's North Ridge.
First view of Cronin North Ridge from Baldwin Creek Crossing
After the creek crossing we followed the road up to ~11,500' took a right, descended to the creek and then up the snow covered and very loose talus towards Cronin's North Ridge. Prior to descending to the creek Josh chugged down some funky protein drink he got in Johnson's Corner that must have included the ingredient Kryptonite in it as it would change our plan of Cronin, Grizzly Mtn, Mt Mamma, Boulder Mtn to just Cronin Peak.
Loose talus below Cronin's North Ridge
After I reached the North Ridge I scrambled up the really fun Class 2+/3 ridge making good time. I kept looking back to see Josh but he was taking forever to reach the ridge. Finally I stopped to wait and yelled for him. I picked his orange hat out among the trees and was surprised at how far below he was. Normally he is a mountain climbing superman that I expected to be gasping and straining to even stay with but the Kryptonite in the protein drink had apparently gotten to him as he was totally out of gas already! He had been fine all along the road but now he had been brought low.
Looking for Josh down the beginning of Cronin's North Ridge
As we climbed the fun ridge we came upon a mountain goat 4-lane superhighway. Seriously, I saw more mountain goat crap in the next ¼ mile than I've seen in my entire life! Their tracks were all over the place. We figured that a large herd must winter on this ridge.
Views of Antero dominated over us as we climbed.
Windblown Antero lords over us to the left
Views back towards Princeton along the ridge were pretty spectacular.
Looking North at Princeton and company
Here you can see Josh grinning through the pain and anguish. Cronin's summit is behind.
Josh and Cronin's North Ridge
Looking towards Shavano and Tabeguache.
Shav and Tab in the distance
Once we got the 12,951' point on the ridge we saw a herd of 15 mountain goats further up the ridge. We must have spooked them as they scrambled up to the ridge crest and then proceeded to climb Cronin ahead of us and head down the SE ridge. I guess they were looking for a Centennial “snowflake” too on their peak list.
Herd of 15 mountain goats mock us as they claim some "snowflake bling" on Cronin before we could. Jerks!
We stayed below the ridge on the East side to try to avoid some of the wind. It didn't work well enough to compensate for the side-hilling so we headed back up to the ridge crest and continued up towards the summit. Josh told me along the way that I didn't need to wait up for him and that I could head on up to the summit.
Almost to the summit!
Josh arrived about 15min after me and here you can see him clinging to the summit cairn/wind block like a sailor lost at sea clings to a lifeboat.
Josh clings to the summit cairn like a sailor lost at sea clings to a raft of wood
Summit shot. Feeling good w/ Centennial #63 in the books!
Cent #63 in the books
Mt Aetna and Taylor Mtn to the south.
Mt Aetna and Taylor Mtn
Grizzly Mountain to the west. With Josh feeling like crap, there's no way we were gonna make the full loop to Grizzly Mountain, Mt Mamma and Boulder Mtn.
Not gonna make it to Grizzly Mtn today. I'll be back!
We didn't feel like descending the North Ridge of Cronin so we headed down the East Ridge to the saddle with Antero whereupon we descended down into the basin to the upper bench rock glacier that would keep us above treeline, was nicely windblown, and would lead us back to the Mt Antero 4WD road.
Josh heading down Cronin's East Ridge
East Face of Cronin Peak.
Dramatic couloirs on Cronin's East Face
Come on Josh you can make it! Just a little further to the 4WD road. Fight through the Kryptonite Superman!
Josh clawing his way to the 4WD road
The Sweet sight of the Mt Antero 4WD road. All downhill from here.
Looking down the 4WD road
Looking up the gulch towards Antero from where the road starts to switchback up.
Looking up the gully towards Antero's summit
Josh demonstrating the “Supine Position” that he took frequently throughout the day.
Josh demonstrating the "Supine Position"
From the 4WD road it was a easy walk down to our previous tracks that we followed back to the car.
Pretty evening light on Princeton.
Evening light on Princeton's prettier and less supernatural/haunted side.
It was a great day to be in the mountains. Thanks for coming Josh! We at least got the primary goal for the day.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):