Mt. Princeton - East Slopes
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.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
Ski: Advanced, D6 / R2 / II
|Trailhead:||Mt. Princeton Road|
|Total Gain:||5,400' if you start at the main trailhead (8,900')|
3,200' if you start near 11,000' on the road
|RT Length:||13.25 miles if you start at the main trailhead (8,900')|
6.5 miles if you start near 11,000' on the road
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Antero|
|County Sheriff:||Chaffee: 719-539-2596
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
From Buena Vista: From the center of town, drive west on the County Road (CR) 306 for 0.7 miles. Turn left on CR 321 and continue south for 7.2 miles. Turn right onto CR 322 at a large sign.
From South of Buena Vista: Over 5 miles south of the U.S. 285 / 24 junction, turn west on County Road 162 in the town of Nathrop. Drive over 4 miles to a junction. Turn right on CR 321. After 1.2 miles, turn left on CR 322.
On CR 322, drive 0.8 miles to a fork in the road. Bear right into the Mt. Princeton trailhead. This trailhead is at 8,900' and there is a large parking area. If you have a good clearance 4WD, you can continue up the narrow 322 (Mt. Princeton) road. Just after the lower parking area, there is a fork in the road - stay right on the main road. Drive 3 miles to the radio towers at 10,800'. There is parking here for a couple of vehicles or turn left and continue on the 322A road. Between 3.2 and 3.4 miles up the Princeton road, there are some small camping spots near 11,000' - with some parking. The road gets worse after the camping spots and there is very limited parking above this point.
Photo #1 and Photo #2 show the route from the east. Leave your vehicle and hike up the road. Above 11,200', the road has a couple of large switchbacks as it climbs up the northeast ridge of "Tigger Peak" (Unnamed 13,300'). Near 11,700', the road swings around the ridge and continues across the south side of Tigger. Near 11,800', locate the Princeton trail ( 38.74456° N, -106.21536° W) on the right side of the road, before the road curves around to the left - Photo #3. Leave the road and start up the trail - Photo #4 and Photo #5.
Continue up to 11,900' on the ridge - Photo #6. The trail crosses to the north side of "Tigger Peak" where you can see the Princeton summit off to the west - Photo #7. Traverse through rocks and across 4 or 5 gullies which may contain snow (spring and early summer) - Photo #8 and Photo #9. Continue west along the trail and over mostly stable rock. Occasionally, the trail may disappear due to recent rock movement but it's fairly easy to follow. After crossing the gullies, turn left to reach easier terrain on the southern portion of Princeton's east slopes - Photo #10. Near 12,800', reach a small rock wall ( 38.74499° N, -106.23049° W) - Photo #11. Turn left and ascend (Photo #12) south to reach the Tigger-Princeton connecting ridge ( 38.74378° N, -106.23122° W), near 13,100'.
Turn right and follow the ridge crest northwest toward Princeton - Photo #14. Near 13,300', reach a small flat area and begin climbing up Princeton's southeast ridge - Photo #15, Photo #16 and Photo #17. Between 13,600' and 14,000', the route is a bit steep but does not exceed a difficulty of Class 2. Near 14,000', the final pitch appears - Photo #18. Follow the trail up to the summit ( 38.749062° N, -106.242432° W) - Photo #19, Photo #20 and Photo #21.
Viewing ski terrain on the east slopes: Photo #22, Photo #23, Photo #24, Photo #25
Climbing the ridge: Photo #26
Looking north at the top of the east slopes: Photo #27
Dropping in: Photo #28, Photo #29
In the northern coloir (see Photo #23): Photo #30, Photo #31, Photo #32, Photo #33, Photo #34, Photo #35, Photo #36, Photo #37, Photo #38, Photo #39
Looking up the east slopes: Photo #40, Photo #41, Photo #42
To exit, contour east and intersect the road, near 11,200'.
The Mt. Princeton road is narrow and there aren't many pull-offs. Consider parking at the bottom on a busy weekend.
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