(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
- Drive to the town of Gardner, northwest of Walsenburg on Colorado 69.
- From Gardner, head west for about 1/2 mile on CO 69 and turn west on the road to Mosca Pass. There should be brown Forest Service signs on CO 69 indicating the turn.
- Just after the start of this road, a Forest Service sign states "Upper Huerfano - 21.5" and "Lily Lake Trhd - 22.5".
- After 7.0 miles the road turns to dirt.
- Continue 4.8 miles to a junction and stay left on Forest Road 580.
- Drive 3.4 miles and enter private property where a "Forest Access" sign reads "Upper Huerfano - 5.3 mi."
- Continue 0.5 mile and stay left at the entrance to the Singing River ranch. The road becomes rough, narrow, but still 2WD.
- Continue 0.9 mile and pass the entrance to the Aspen River ranch. The road becomes more difficult.
- Drive 3.4 miles to enter the San Isabel National Forest.
- Drive 0.8 mile and pass a small sign for the Huerfano and Zapata trails.
- Drive 1 more mile to the end of the road at the Lily Lake TH.
WARNING: Once the snow is gone from the upper gully used in this route, consider using the Northwest Ridge route instead. That route is steeper, more exposed and requires some Class 3 scrambling plus a couple of Class 4 moves, but it's much more stable. However, if you are freaked out by exposure or don't think you're up to scrambling on steeper rock, stick to this route...
From the parking area, take the Lily Lake trail south through the trees and down to a large meadow - Photo #1. Walk 1 mile to a trail junction where the Lily Lake trail turns right - Photo #2. Your route doesn't go to Lily Lake so continue straight on the main, unmarked trail. Hike another 100 yards, cross the river (Photo #3) and continue through the trees as you parallel the river. Approximately 0.25 mile after the river crossing, the trail begins to climb left (southeast) through the trees and away from the river - Photo #4. Near 10,800', a boulder field is off to the left as you hike up through the trees.
It's time to gain some ground. Hike approx. 600' up through the forest to reach a gully, near 11,400'. Exit the trees and continue along the left side of the gully (Photo #5) and near 11,600', cross the gully and continue southwest back into the trees. Hike south up a hillside and finally reach tree line on the crest of a small ridge, near 12,000'. From this vantage point, you can finally see the summit. Your next task is to cross a high basin which is just west of Iron Nipple (13,500') - Photo #6. Drop a bit and follow the trail southeast across easy terrain. On the east side of the basin, ascend (Photo #7) to a flat area at 12,200' (Photo #8) and follow a small ridge (Photo #9) to a 13,000-foot crest - Photo #10. Continue east through a boulder field and onto the 13,150-foot saddle between Iron Nipple and Mt. Lindsey - Photo #11.
Lindsey's rugged north face is ahead and you can see the crux of the route - a steep gully just left of the northwest ridge - Photo #12 and Photo #13. Hike southeast along the ridge and near 13,200', the trail turns east and starts across the face. Continue to the base of the gully - Photo #14, Photo #15 and Photo #16. The route from here is semi-steep, loose and more difficult. Hike up the gully and try not to get the rocks moving. When possible, use the more stable rock along the upper edge of the gully. Near the top of the gully (~13,600'), there are some narrow areas where some easy Class 3 moves might be necessary unless it is filled with snow - Photo #17. At the top of the gully, pass through a small notch (Photo #18) and traverse east across several more shallow gullies as you gradually gain elevation - Photo #19. If you take your time, you should be able to find some cairns and trail segments. Above 13,800', the route remains steep (Photo #20 and Photo #21) until you hit Lindsey's summit ridge, near 14,000' - Photo #22. Hike southeast for nearly 0.2 to reach the summit - Photo #23, Photo #24 and Photo #25.
Cars or SUVs with good clearance usually make it to the upper trailhead. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.