Peak(s):  Horn Pk  -  13,450 feet
Date Posted:  01/07/2018
Date Climbed:   01/06/2018
Author:  ArtM
 Horn Peak North Ridge  

Took the "shortcut" or spur, from the trailhead to Rainbow Trail, it's supposed to be only 0.25 mi, but is more like 0.5 mi. The 0.75 mi marker to the Horn Peak Trail at the junction of the spur/Rainbow appears to be accurate, however. The trail through the treeline is a long slog, this appears to be similar to other routes in the Sangres. On the positive side, the trail below treeline is generally easily recognized, no need for rock cairns, as the entire lower route was dry. This is much better than the East Ridge of Humboldt, which lacks any defined trail, markers, etc.

I did lose the trail, however, around 11,400 ft or so, and emerged from treeline at maybe around 11,750 ft to the west of the first (lowest) marker stake. It turns out that the three marker stakes are very useful, especially on the way down. If you don't see the lowest marker stake (they're about 4 ft high wooden stakes, around 4" X 4") when you emerge from treeline, you probably went off the trail. From the first marker, you travel somewhat west uphill to the ridge line, and will see a second marker not too much further uphill, maybe about 100 ft in elevation above. The third marker, and last one to the ridge line is somehwhat higher. On the return, if you follow these markers you'll be assured of entering the trail. Note that it was dry, and easy to see the route, but I still had some trouble in the 11,500-11,400 ft range, again.

There arerudimentary routes up the ridge, you can see some wear/paths, but then again, you can just make your own way and try to stay out of the wind. I saw some rock cairns here and there.

At 12,400 ft, or so, I really noticed the wind picking up, had to put on balaclava, while it continued getting stronger as I went higher. I stayed to the east of the ridge, below the ridge line above pt. 12,665. It was howling/gusting in the range of 30+mph by the time I got to pt. 13,037 ft., still below ridge line. Wind nearly knocked me down (which it did on the way back down below 12,600 ft), and I had to hunker down several times. I gave up on attempting to summit at this point, as I didn't like the idea of 30 or maybe 40+ mph gusts on the summit ridge with the exposure there. Also, I didn't want to have 1-2 hrs hiking in the dark on the return like I did on Humboldt in December 2017! I turned around at about 12:35, and it still took me three hrs to get back to the trailhead (I'm not a fast hiker).

Also, I was surprised how "slippery" the trail is on the way down, below treeline, and below the stream crossing. I don't know if it was my boots, my legs that seemed to be made of rubber at that point, or the round pebbly rocks, but I slipped and fell on my butt maybe four times below the stream crossing! I wanted to try to jog on this part of the trail, but it just wasn't safe with all the slipping and sliding on the rocks. Rainbow Trail is easier to jog along, but by this point I was too tired and sore.

Finally, it's too bad I couldn't summit, as it would have turned into the perfect day--I didn't see another person the entire day, at the trailhead, on the trails, or on the slopes! Don't know if I'll attempt again, the approach is such a slog, and it's harder than a number of 14ers I've done! It is a beautiful peak, though, and that's the attraction.

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