| Opening the Culebra Climbing Season
Date: June 27, 2009
Group: Kathy, Kim(ksegasser), Dave(CarpeDM), Howie, Peter(Sourdough), myself, and others.
Peaks: Culebra Peak(14,047) and Red Mountain(13,908)
Elevation Gain: ~4,100
Time: ~8 hours (we strolled and soaked in the hike out)
Details: Well I figured coming into this year that Kathy and I better climb these before Bobby Hill and his Co-owner change their mind or sell. I called the first week of May...got a recording that must have been from last fall. Called on May 10th...recording had changed saying they will start taking reservations on May 15th. I called like 5 times that morning but got no answer. Finally I left a message with my intentions to climb on June 27th with a group of 6 (I had 3 for sures and some other prospects). Carole in Texas called me back that night and said we have the reservation. She emailed materials a few weeks later.
The additional prospects fell through, but Howie put a post on 14ers asking if someone would like to form group for a Culebra climb. I responded that I had 3 openings and immediately got 5 takers. I called Carole and she said I could have 7...so the first 4 takers were in. Carole asked for a final roster to be sent a few days in advance and I obliged.
We all met at the gate the night before, along with another group or two (I believe there were 24 climbers that day). I had no idea that this was the first day of reserved climbing for the year, so that was kind of exciting. At the gate there is a porta-potty and not much else besides a billion mosquitos.
Carlos and his two dogs showed up at the scheduled 6 am start and we all drove through as he checked names off the list. Here is Kim and Carlos:
There is an easy 2wd drive road a mile or so to the Ranch House(s).
Here there are some restrooms and this is where Carlos takes the waiver forms and cash ($150 a piece for us to do both peaks). We did not get started from this point until after 7am...which meant you need to haul if you are climbing both peaks and want to be back off Culebra before noon...we lucked out with suberb weather, so we were able to take it easy after summiting Red Mountain.
From here it is a pretty well maintained but steep 4wd road...because it was wet a few of the other group's trucks had some problems getting up some steep sections. We followed Bill's advice regarding where to start to get 3K, so we all parked at this sign:
And here is the group:
You then hike up a very nice, seemingly 2wd road for maybe a mile. The view from the road was very lush:
At the end of that road there is slight trail that stays to the north of creek that eventually hits the ridge. We turned off this trail pretty quickly, crossed the creek on some boulders and took a more direct Southern route to a point on the ridge probably a mile closer to Culebra Peak. See our shortcut in red.
The elevation gain was fast, but the slopes were mostly grassy.
Where we hit the ridge there is a giant cairn (the pic also shows Howie who was the speed demon of our group).
From this point there is plenty of ridge left to the Peak (there is a reason this baby is Spanish for snake). There was many up and downs, ankle breaking rock, and just a little snow along the way.
Looking back at the ridge from the South (the large cairn is towards the middle left of the distant ridge that has the steep Southeastern cliff/drop).
Here is Dave sauntering across one of the minor snowfields (obviously no ice axe necessary).
Here is the group on the summit:
Kim was jumping for joy!
A view from the top to the NE:
A view to the north of the Blanca Group:
From here there is a ~ 500 ft moderate talus drop to the saddle connecting Red Mountain. As with the theme of the day, even this saddle has a few ups and downs. But is pretty easy hiking...not nearly as much ankle breaking rock as the hike up to Culebra.
Kathy and I on large summit of Red Mountain:
It was a long hike back over Culebra and back to the big cairn, but it was fun to relax on the hike out and enjoy the day and scenery.
It is truly awesome to have a website like this where you can connect with strangers that all get along so great and make these climbs a true joy. Thank you guys for the pictures, for hanging out and waiting on us slower hikers, and for making this day such a great experience!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):