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 Peak(s):  Fletcher Mtn  -  13,951 feet
 Post Date:  01/01/2013
 Date Climbed:   12/31/2012
 Posted By:  mattdecoste

 Fletcher Mtn-SE Ridge variation     

After reading Colorado Snow Climbs by Dave Cooper, www.amazon.com/The-Mountaineers-Books-Colorado-Climbs/dp/B00119YVOA Ramsey Ross, Eric Gresse, and I agreed that Fletcher Mtn. looked like a great winter hike so we headed out from Colorado Springs around 6 am and made good time to the Blue Lakes Rd. TH. It was plowed .3 miles from Hwy 9 as is typical for the winter. We parked, and started snowshoeing up the road. It had barely 2-3 inches of snow on the road all the way up to the dam. Some areas were windblown revealing the dirt road. Other spots on the road had some drifts up to 8 inches but easy going the whole way. We used snowshowes but they were probably not needed.

Image
Matt and Ramsey catching a breather just past the dam


We began hiking up the standard SE ridge route from the north side of the dam, doing an ascending traverse from the dam towards the first basin. It was cold, around 15 degrees and got colder as the day went on and the sun was covered by thick clouds and intermittent snow fell around us. We startled a porcupine crossing the snow 15 ft in front of us and watched as he climbed a tree with his quills aiming right at us.

Image
Ascending a snow gully up to the first basin.


We snapped some pics and then finished going up the gully that put us right at the end of the open basin. Looking up the valley towards the Fletcher/Quandary saddle we could see some blue ice on the side of the hill that looked like it might make for a good 1 pitch ice climb. After testing the snow we decided it might be safer to bypass the standard route up the valley to the saddle and instead climb the prominent ridge to the west of us (pt 13,515) due to poor snow conditions. The initial climb up a rocky outcropping was difficult in snowshoes but the slope eased after a 2nd bump to the upper ridge that we took to the Fletcher/Quandary saddle. It was somewhere in this section that I realized my silver Canon camera must have fallen out of its holder on my waist belt. I was totally bummed. Maybe it will show up in the spring. If any good samaritan's are reading this I'd love to get it back.

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Several times during the steep climb to get to this ridge slabs 3-6 feet in size would break off at about 6 inches thick and slide. Not a good sign.

Image
A couple of mountain goats along the west ridge.


The ridge to the saddle is very broad and easy to navigate and the slope eases up, then levels, and then descends a bit to the saddle. From the saddle we rejoined the standard SE ridge route to the summit. We dropped the snowshoes here and put on microspikes and experienced 6-8 inches of snow in most places and as we were climbing another inch or so fell. A pair of real crampons would have been better but the microspikes definitely helped.

Image
The sun made brief appearances through the clouds in the all day.


We reached the summit around 1:45 and spent 15 mins on top, and were able to place a cell phone call to the wives to let them know we made the summit. The last ascent noted on the summit register was 12/22/12 and before that were several in September 2012. We retraced our route as the temperatures dropped even more and swirling snow and clouds moved around us. We made it back to the car just before 5 pm, not thinking it would take nearly as long as it did but happy for a successful outing on a peak often overlooked due to being 49 feet shorter than the magical 14,000.

Image
View of Fletcher Mtn. in the distance


Photos courtesy of Eric Gresse.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (5)
boudreaux


Nice Trip     2013-01-02 08:10:55
Fletcher is a nice peak, congrats on your summit! Did y'all happen to take any pictures of Quandary once you got to the base of Fletcher? That 1st pic shows the SW face really well. How far did those slabs slide on you?


mattdecoste


Pic and slab size     2013-01-02 20:20:42
Hey Bouereaux, I did get several of pics of Quandary on the camera I lost in the snow. I can send you a pic my buddy took if you send me your email vis PM. Hope it helps. The slabs were fairly small, maybe 3-5 feet square on a 25-30º slope. But almost without fail I would ”fracture” the snow every few steps even if it didn't break off into a complete ”slab.”


Kirk Mallory

Congrats on a nice winter summit!     2013-01-02 22:51:33
That was my ascent on 12/22. I was surprised that no one had climbed it since September, since it's supposedly one of the more popular 13ers on LOJ. I avoided that side valley - went further up the main valley, then up steep rocky/thin slope to the flat basin, then climbed the SW ridge.


mattdecoste


Thanks Kirk!     2013-01-03 11:27:48
Kind of wondered what type of person would hike Fletcher in the winter. Glad to meet you. I, too, was a bit surprised that no one had made any ascents (at least not noted on the summit register) since September. Strange for such a high 13er and so close to Hwy 9 and Breckenridge. I had wanted to go up the main valley as well and just stick to one of the rocky slopes rather than the snowy slopes but another member on our hike was adamant that we take the ridge. Did you experience any of the mini slabs cracking anywhere in the snow?


Kirk Mallory

.     2013-01-03 19:55:35
There was some whumpfing in the willows, but I don't remember it anywhere else. Once I was in the flat basin, I stayed right of the snowy slope below the saddle and picked my way up talus & snow to the SW ridge a bit above the saddle. Ridge was a little rocky, but no problem.



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