Peak(s):  Arkansas Mt  -  13,795 feet
Date Posted:  03/21/2018
Date Climbed:   03/18/2018
Author:  koeffling
 A tale of slow and slower   

Mt Arkansas

"Everything is epic when you're out of shape." -Me

For the last 4 months I've been studying for a board exam. It's been 7 years since my last board exam and I forgot how time consuming studying is. Each day off spent at a coffee shop for hours on end does not lend itself to staying in shape for winter hikes. I wanted to squeeze in one last calendar winter with the exam done, which makes a grand total of 2 for the 2017-2018 season. I amaze myself sometimes. We decided on Mt Arkansas: short, direct, a nice ridge, safe conditions, easy to get to. Other than looking at a photo I didn't do a drop of homework. When you can see the whole route from the parking lot, how much research does one need to do?

For the record, I was slow. My partner was slower

The weather forecast for Sunday changed quite a bit during the couple days prior. We wondered whether we should get something closer to Denver, or an easier route, but then decided just to go for it. Sometimes you never know.

We arrived at the hairpin turn on 91 near the Climax Mine a touch before 7:00am. Clear blue skies with snow coming later in the day, temperatures were mild. We started our journey on the abandoned railroad, following snowmobile tracks to avoid post holing. We were mostly successful, as most winter hikes are. The route is fairly straightforward but we took a wide option, following snowmobile tracks which might have added a little distance but was well worth it. We made our way around to a clearing, through some willows, and out of the trees. We travel towards the slope leading up to the ridge, which was fairly wind blown.

Following the abandoned RR

Always some Type II fun to be had. In snowshoes

Following snowmobile tracks wider from the main trail

Through a low point in some willows

Stashing the snowshoes, we head to a low point on the ridge. Gaining the ridge on mostly grassy slopes, we were treated to a beautiful view of Traver. We start the long ridge towards the summit: mostly corniced on one side and windblown on the other. It was easy to give the cornice some room, but mostly easier to head up on the snow slopes.

Gaining the ridge with the Climax Mine behind

Halfway up the slope with Massive behind

Starting the ridge

Traver I believe

Nowhere in the route description (that I recall) was there mention of multiple false summits! Or perhaps I glazed over that section. That ridge goes on! Starting wide and grassy we soon come to a snowy short wall to gain a rockier section of the ridge. The ridge got more narrow and rockier from here. We had a lovely day, blue skies and light wind. On the ridge we had views of Elbert and Massive and Holy Cross. The Climax Mine is rather impressive behind us.

The ridge ahead. Definitely not the summit

Elbert and Massive in the distance

Beginning the rockier section of the ridge

We continue on fairly decent snow towards another bump in the ridge. We mostly stay ridge proper, a couple times dropping on the right side to mix it up a little. It was funny, as we were heading up what looked like the last few feet to the summit, I remarked that the crux didn't seem very 'cruxy.' That's hilarious, only seconds later we top out on this bump and see the ACTUAL summit quite a ways yet in the distance.

Definitely thought that was the summit. ha!

Basin to the northeast

Not a crux

Also not the crux

Well shoot. Actual summit waaaay over there

We arrive at the tower and bypass to the right. My partner and I both took fairly different routes. As well as the return, I stayed rather high and my partner lower than our ascent. The snow was unconsolidated and required a 'choose your own adventure.'

Some of the crux bypass

Easy going from here

Coming around the tower it was an easy jaunt to the summit. We stayed just a few minutes to get a few photos as we watched darker clouds loom close. We were longer than expected already, and lucky in terms of the weather report.

Summit views

The tower looking down from below the summit

Headed down

We head down as quick as we were able, which was about the speed of turtles in the sand and watch while our visibility declines and the snow falls. We follow GPS tracks to try to stay on our original route (ie- snowmobile tracks) for a quick trip back to the railroad. We arrive at the car with 3 inches of new snow.

Whoops. Stayed out too long.

A lovely peak on a lovely day. Perhaps a little exercise before the next!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

03/22/2018 09:19
A very nice report on one of my fav mountains. Your pics and report brings back fond memories.


Good report!
03/22/2018 17:31
Been eyeing this peak for a while now. May give it a try soon with the knowledge that there are the required 13er false summits!


03/25/2018 06:33
Thanks for the report! On my list for a climb soon.

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