Mt. Lindsey - North Couloir
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(Spring/Summer/Fall) A while back there was a large landslide on the road to the Huerfano/Lily Lake trailhead, so the road is closed and has a parking lot 7 miles below the actual trailhead. Until a new road is built around the landslide, the additional 14 miles round-trip is unavoidable.
|Difficulty:||Class 2, Moderate Snow|
Ski: Advanced, D5 / R2 / II
|Total Gain:||3,900 feet with a high-traverse to the couloir|
4,400 feet if climbing the entire couloir
|RT Length:||8.75 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Blanca Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Huerfano: 719-738-1600
| ||Costilla: 719-672-3302
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
|Wilderness Area:||Sangre De Cristo|
- 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."
- 2016 NOTE: DUE TO A LANDSLIDE HIGHER ON THE ROAD, VEHICLES MUST PARK IN THIS AREA, NEAR A "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" SIGN. A PLAN IS IN THE WORKS TO RE-OPEN THE ROAD BUT HAS YET TO BE IMPLEMENTED. THIS ADDS 7 MILES OF WALKING (EACH WAY) TO REACH THE ACTUAL TRAILHEAD. TAKE A BIKE!
- 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.
Taken from far to the north, Photo #1 and Photo #2 show Mt Lindsey's north face. First, follow Mt. Lindsey Route #1 to the 13,150-foot saddle between Iron Nipple and Mt. Lindsey - Photo #3. The north couloir is not visible from here. To reach it, you must drop east (Photo #4) into the basin between 13er "Huerfano Peak" and Mt. Lindsey. Here are two options to reach the couloir:
1) From the saddle, hike slightly left (north) before dropping right into the drainage (Photo #5) which runs east from the saddle between Iron Nipple and Mt. Lindsey. Follow the drainage for 3/4 of a mile to reach the base of the north couloir, near 12,300' (Photo #10).
2) For a higher traverse to the couloir, continue another 50+ yards southeast on the standard route, drop left (east) off the ridge (Photo #4) and zigzag down the slope to reach easier terrain near 12,800' (Photo #6). Continue east, at an elevation of 12,800' (Photo #7), for 1/2 mile to intersect the north couloir (Photo #9). This option saves you 500' of elevation loss but the traverse involves crossing several shallow gullies.
Photo #8 looks back on both options. Enter the couloir and begin climbing (Photo #11, Photo #12). Photo #13 and Photo #14 show the middle of the couloir. Near 13,800' (Photo #15), the couloir becomes steeper and you reach the final pitch (Photo #16). Pick your line and climb to the top of the couloir and summit (Photo #17). For the descent, the standard (#1) route is probably the best option.
With good snow coverage, the north couloir can provide nearly 1,900' of skiing. Remember, you'll have to ascend back to the 13,150-foot saddle on your way out.
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.
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