February 08, 2013
~ 15.8 Miles, ~5,300 Gain
TH: Sandbeach Trailhead, RMNP
With what is left of my remaining 13ers, obtaining a 13er I haven't climbed as a day trip in the winter is not an easy task. Fortunately, I left some low hanging fruit in The Park and Chiefs Head was a good option. Al and I slept near the trailhead and started hiking up the Sandbeach trail a little after 5:30 AM.
The first part of the trail was dry, around ~9,000, the trail became snow packed but didn't require snowshoes and at ~9,600 we donned our snowshoes. A full re-trench commenced ~1 mile short of Sandbeach Lake. A good packed down base layer made the snowshoeing to Sandbeach Lake tolerable. We arrived at Sandbeach Lake a little before 8 AM and started our more intense snowshoe workout beyond the lake.
Al on the Sandbeach Trail.
First view of Longs Peak.
Despite previous snowshoe trail breaking horror, overall, the snow wasn't too bad to break trail as we gained treeline. There were only a few really deep powder sections. Without a doubt, gaining the ~1000 feet above Sandbeach Lake was the most energy consuming. At ~11,200 we stashed our snowshoes and hiked on large talus until we passed Mt. Orton. Beyond Mt. Orton, there was a light snow cover on gentle terrain. Hiking on easy terrain led us to the base of the Chiefs Head's talus south ridge which was mostly barren of snow. The views of Long's and Pagoda were outstanding.
Al working his way out of treeline.
Me out of treeline (Photo by Al).
Al working his way towards Chief Head's south ridge.
Longs and The Notch.
View of Alice.
Al working his way on gentle terrain.
Me on gentle terrain (Photo by Al).
Looking up the south ridge on Chiefs Head
Forecasted wind around 20-30 mph was non-existent as we slowly climbed on steep class 2 talus towards the summit of Chiefs Head. For not having done any longer days recently, Al did an amazing job of keeping up. He must have eaten his Wheaties. I arrived on the summit around noon, took some photos and ended up falling asleep on the summit. Warm temperatures, clear skies and no wind made for a fine siesta.
The long ridge to Chiefs Head.
Al on the south ridge.
Climbing up the south ridge.
Final summit push.
Color of Longs.
I woke up 40 minutes later to find Al laughing at my snoring. We basked in the views and started our long trek back to the car. We returned via our ascent route and our travel time was much faster from treeline to Sandbeach Lake. It is amazing what a good trench can do. Returning back to the car around 5:10 PM, Chiefs Head made for a stellar winter venture. I can't wait to give Pagoda a try.
Nap time (Photo by Al)(Maybe he will post the video of me snoring).
Alice from the descent.
Alice from the descent.
Looking back towards Chiefs Head.
Pagoda and Longs.
Before heading back into the trees.
Last good view of Pagoda and Longs.
Pagoda and Chiefs Head.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.