| Rosalie to Epaulet
Rosalie Peak (13,575)
Epaulet Mountain (13,523) unranked
From: Deer Creek Campground
Approx 15.6 mi, 6100 ft
Partners: Dominic & Dwight
The weather forecast for Sunday was calling for "Rosalie weather" – low temperatures, high winds, crazy wind chill, and a great possibility for snow. Time for another Rosalie attempt. The short drive to the trailhead from the Denver area means that there's not much agony in a failed attempt and the long approach before treeline guarantees a respectable hike before getting turned back by unbearable conditions. Dwight had one failed attempt under his belt from a previous trip and the three of us had another failed attempt last month.
We started hiking from the Deer Creek Campground around 7am. The first mile (drivable in summer) was well tracked by snowmobiles. At the road's end, we picked up the Tanglewood Creek Trail. This thing was like a super highway! It was MUCH better tracked than when we made our last attempt in January. It was so hard packed that we didn't even think of putting snowshoes on until well over 11,000 feet. We made great time and starting thinking about the possibility of adding "Epaulie" to the hike. Let's not get too excited yet though – we could hear the wind ripping around above us. Treeline will almost surely dampen our spirits.
Near 11,300 ft the superhighway became obscured and we strapped on our snowshoes for the short distance to treeline. After stashing them in some rocks and gearing up for the wind, we continued on over bare ground to the Rosalie – Pegmatite saddle. Amazingly, the wind didn't seem too awful – much better than during our previous attempt where we gave up 700 feet below the summit after making painfully slow progress and being knocked to the ground several times.
From the saddle we headed west up the monotonous, gentle slope to the summit. Nothing exciting to report. There were some large rocks which provided a welcomed wind barrier behind which we could take a break. Dwight wasn't feeling 100% and for some reason I felt like I was going to throw up. We had made MUCH better timer than expected though and it still wasn't even noon yet. Continuing on to "Epaulie" made a lot of sense – it was only about a mile away and route looked like a walk in the park (a very windy park maybe). I figured I could easily make it with or without throwing up as I still felt very strong. After inserting chemical heat sources into various places, we were off. Thankfully, my sick feeling went away during the break and never really came back.
The walk over to "Epaulie" seemed short and sweet and we were on the summit in no time. It was a much more interesting summit than Rosalie's. Again, huge rocks made for a very effective wind break. "Epaulie" is one of those weird mountains that is ranked but not officially named that sits right next to a named but unranked summit – Epaulet Mountain. Epaulet Mountain was tantalizing close so we continued on to tag its summit. This side trip was well worth the effort. The views of Evans and particularly Bierstadt were amazing. This was the first time that I saw Bierstadt from an angle that impressed me. Its not just a pile of rocks after all! The abyss between Bierstadt and Evans and the cliffs on the west side of Epaulet Mountain were awesome.
After snapping some pictures (in unfortunately less than perfect visibility) we hiked back to "Epaulie" for a break before the long trek back to the car. The 600 ft climb back up Rosalie wasn't bad. Dwight suggested traversing around Rosalie instead, and this is definitely an option if you're a fan of side-hilling to avoid elevation gain. The hike back was uneventful, except that it started snowing pretty hard. Total time ~ 11 hours.
In terms of total distance and elevation gain, this hike is my personal record for calendar winter. It wouldn't have been feasible without the super highway below treeline.
pictures & route map: