| Rollercoaster Ride on Hoosier Ridge
Hoosier Ridge (13352‘)
Red Mtn C (13229‘)
Red Pk A (13215‘)-unranked
11.8 miles RT, 3600‘ gain
From Hoosier Pass (11539‘)
Participants: Chad Stoltzfus, Steve Mueller, Kevin Baker, and 14ers.com Winter Gathering crew (to 12800‘)
This hike has been on my short list as a winter option for quite some time and when I saw Jamie Princo was organizing a 14ers.com trip up nearby centennial Silverheels via Hoosier Pass, I jumped at the chance for some help with the trailbreaking! Around 35 people signed up for the Silverheels outing, but I couldn‘t get any takers for the lower 13ers I wanted to do along Hoosier Ridge. Chad and Steve contacted me late in the week, so I was glad to have some company on this gloomy day.
We arrived at Hoosier Pass promptly at 7am and after some instructions from Jamie, we were off with the conga line of hikers at 7:27am under a balmy temp of 17 degrees. We set out in the middle of the pack as some were on snowshoes and others struggled with AT setups, not exactly a good option for windblown Silverheels. The trailbreaking efforts of those in front of us were appreciated and it wasn‘t too long until we hit treeline.
Conga line of 14ers.com members heading to the ridge
It‘s not too often when it only takes 30 minutes to reach treeline in winter. Oh the benefits of a high trailhead like Hoosier Pass! The group quickly spread out and once we reached the base of Pt 12814, we continued along the ridge while the rest of the group started contouring toward Silverheels n.w. ridge. We quickly disappeared into our own little world, preparing mentally for the rollercoaster ride of seemingly endless bumps along Hoosier Ridge. Visibility was only about 1/4 mile or so, which may have been a blessing in disguise as we couldn‘t see how much farther we had. The winds picked up as we climbed higher, but I‘ve experienced a lot worse. We pretty much stayed on the ridge crest, skirting only 1 of 9 bumps along the way. Too bad only the last one was ranked! We topped out on the highpoint of Hoosier Ridge at 10:42 and pretty much kept going as it was too windy for a break.
Chad nearing the windy summit of Hoosier Ridge
After descending a couple hundred yards, we bailed off the ridge and headed n.w. for ranked Red Mtn C. I wanted to do unranked Red Pk first so it was easier not to skip it, but Steve wasn‘t really interested in Red Pk if the weather didn‘t improve. Red Mtn was barely visible as we descended, but once we got to the saddle the weather improved.
Steve Mueller heading up the south ridge of Red Mtn C
Steve led us up the south ridge, which usually holds a cornice in winter. We couldn‘t make it out until we were a couple hundred feet below it. We skirted this cornice to the left on steep snow, but there was enough powder to get by with just poles and snowshoes.
A cornice lurks on the south ridge.
My MSR‘s did well on this. I gave Chad my spare axe to use since he didn‘t have poles. We were surprised at how much snow was on the ridges as the wind apparently hadn‘t done much scouring of late. I actually kept my snowshoes on all the way back to the pass on the return. We made quick work of Red Mtn and arrived at 11:40 as the winds had abated. I thought the true summit was just north of the cairn, so we visited it to be sure.
The weather had improved enough to take a shot at unranked Red Pk A. We took a long needed lunch break at the saddle where it was quite pleasant. Instead of going all the way back up to the ridge, Chad and I did an annoying sidehill across talus and loose snow, which wasn‘t exactly fun with snowshoes. Steve went back up to the ridge.
Traversing over to unranked Red Pk A.
The winds now hit us again as we headed over to Red Pk. This little peak tricks you with 3 bumps, the northern and farthest away of which is the highpoint. We arrived at 12:37, tagged the summit cairn, and turned around. It was too windy for a break.
Now comes the mental game a bunch of vertical on the descent! Resummitting Hoosier Ridge was tough for me as we plowed our way through some drifts to regain the ridgecrest. Visibility was poor, but still good enough to make out the next bump on the ridge. The remaining ups and downs were easier than I thought, as most were 80‘ or less. The weather improved as we descended and we were finally able to see Silverheels!
Silverheels busts through the clouds
Visibility improves as Steve and Chad enjoy views of the ridge.
I took off my goggles and donned sunglasses thinking the worst weather was behind, but a brief whiteout slammed us out of nowhere just as we went over the last bump! Steve had taken a short break to rehydrate and got behind us, so we waited for him to catch up in the maelstrom. We met Steve from the 14ers.com crew and hiked with him during the low vis. I was glad to have my GPS track to follow, as it would be easy to drift off course along the broad ridge. Thankfully the whiteout was only about 15 minutes, but we were concerned with some of the folks behind us.
We met up with Jamie Princo and Jamie Nellis after the whiteout and chatted with them for awhile as they were making sure everyone got down, which they did. A pleasant 1 mile remained back to the pass, as we arrived at 4pm happy to get back to the warm car. I must say Hoosier Ridge is a fine winter outing but we sure missed out on the views!
GPS track of the journey:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):