| Skeeters, Tweeters, Repeaters, oh my!
After checking the weather and snow-coverage reports, this looked to be a good weekend to get some sustained high-altitude exposure in preparation for summer. So, praying that the TH access above 11K for this grouping would be doable in my 2WD, I headed out early Saturday morning.
The road up Mosquito Gulch was indeed in good shape and I only had to cross my fingers twice while bashing through snowdrifts ("Our Lady of Blessed Momentum, don't fail me now!"). After parking just before the road turns west and crosses Mosquito Creek, I spent some time getting my bearings and trying to ascertain the best descent route to avoid the most snow, then headed off to the north.
View of Mt. Tweto from my starting point after the road turns and heads for Mosquito Pass.
The snow was still nice and firm at this point, so I didn't bother trying to avoid it. Once I got a little farther up the canyon and out of the shadow of the canyon walls, I was able to move mostly over tundra and rocks up to the plateau above 12000.
Tweto from the plateau area.
View of Pennsylvania and London Mountains from same area, with MP road clearly outlined.
The hike up to the saddle over rolling terrain was pleasant and, looking at the snow cover, I decided to angle in a more northerly direction up Tweto's south slopes instead of taking the ridge. I felt like I was cruising pretty well and made it up the standard talus slope to the summit in decent time. The wind greeted me with open arms at that point, so I headed south down the ridge soon after catching a few pics.
McNamee/Clinton/Traver, Quandary and North Star
The ridge was mostly clear on its west side and the snow patches were still holding weight fairly well.
Tweto from near saddle
The snow cover started to become more unavoidable and soft and I began wishing I'd started earlier (for various reasons, I hit the TH 1 hour later than my planned 6:30 time). Still nowhere near a slogfest, but just becoming more irritating. Just when I started considering strapping on the snowshoes, I'd see a big patch of cleared talus and decide against the thought. Ah, spring hiking!
From further down the ridge, view ahead to Mosquito Peak and Treasurevault Mountain.
Even considering the snow and wind, it was still an enjoyable and mild ridge hike. The more I do bicentennials and other 13ers, the more I appreciate the (relative) wildness and lack of traffic.
Treasurevault came quickly and gently, but the subsequent descent down to the Mosquito saddle was less fun than it should have been due to a sudden lack of energy. After passing leftover mining trash on the ascent up the north ridge of Mosquito, the scree turned obnoxious and almost made me long for some nice snow to kick steps into (!). Eventually, the summit appeared and I took a breather to recarb.
Sherman, with Dyer in the foreground
The usual suspects in the northern Sawatch.
Upon heading a few hundred feet down the south ridge on the way to Repeater Peak, I got a better look at the saddle - and didn't like what I saw. The ridge was very narrow for several hundred feet and was o'ertopped by an absolutely ginormous cornice. I glared at it for a few minutes, made a couple of false starts and then decided not to risk it. I started traversing back north to reach the SE ridge of Mosquito for a descent passing south of Oliver Twist Lake - until I realized that it was hella-steep and hella snow-covered. Grrrr. I finally ended up talus-hopping down the NE slope and heading east across the fairly-dry plateau.
View across plateau from NE slope of Mosquito.
Quite a nice jaunt until the last 700 feet of downhill, where the snow returned and became sloppy-ass, postholing-to-my-waist-even-in-snowshoes mush. Of course, that was nothing after crashing through a thin layer of snow and tumbling into running snowmelt multiple times. Hey, what's a spring outing without returning to the TH soaked from the neck down, anyway?
All in all, a good morning's work off-the-beaten-path.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):