Peak(s):  Music Pass
Date Posted:  02/16/2020
Date Climbed:   02/15/2020
Author:  Graham Gedman
 "Fun" in the Sangres  

"Fun" in the Sangres

12 miles, 3000' elevation gain

I'm starting to get sick of the winter. This is the third weekend in a row I had to prematurely end a climb before any of the fun parts - I've just been enduring the crappy, uncomfortable parts of winter climbing.

I like to plan climbs that are way too ambitious for my own good... That way even if I only accomplish a small fraction of what I planned it's still a great trip. I "planned" on heading up over Music Pass this weekend to see if I could knock out Tijeras, Music, Milwaukee and Pico Aislado (or any combination of these). Realistically just getting Tijeras would've been a great accomplishment. I'd say this is very doable in a weekend in the summer, not so much the winter. I had attempted this route the past weekend, but unfortunately got my Jeep royally stuck in a snowdrift about 1.7 miles from the Grape Creek trailhead on Colfax lane. I spent 8 hours (and a night in the back of my Jeep) shoveling and hacking at ice until a friendly local happened to come by and tow me out (thanks Adam).

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I've only owned this Jeep a week and already destroying it

I had to punt on that attempt, so I came back this weekend for another go. Headed down there Friday night, this time parking 1.7 miles + 100 feet from the Grape Creek trailhead. Had some awesome views on the way.

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I left the Jeep around 645pm Friday night, with unrealistic hopes of making it 6 miles and 3k' all the way up to Music Pass that night. Needless to say I didn't quite make it that far - I have inexpensive gear weighing me down (my winter overnight pack is almost 100lbs), and I only made it 3.5 miles before I was too exhausted to continue. The road was easy to walk on until right before the Grape Creek trailhead, when the snow started to really pile up. There were some old sled tracks that started at the Grape Creek trailhead which I was extremely thankful for, but they ended half a mile from the trailhead where a downed tree was blocking the road. The next mile and a half I trenched on my own. I was pretty beat after 3.5 miles and it was almost 11pm, so I called it a day. Dug myself a nice little pit and set up camp.

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Trying to make a 3-season tent a 4-season

In the bag by midnight, set an alarm for 330am and laid awake thinking every little sound was a 200 lb cougar ready to eat me. Got about an hour of solid sleep before my alarm went off. I was breaking trail by 430am and was feeling good. I was only 2.5 miles from Music Pass, I knew the snow was going to slow me down but I figured I had plenty of day ahead of me to grab at least one peak. I was very wrong. There was 3-4 feet of snow the entire way up to Music Pass, the majority of it loose unconsolidated powder. I'm about 250lbs with my winter daypack, and even with 30" snowshoes I postholed down to my hip most of the way. I powered through it, hanging on to the hope the snow would get easier to move through - but it never did. It took 3.5 hours to trench the 1.25 miles from camp to the Music Pass trailhead at which point I concluded my plans for grabbing any peaks were shot. I continued on, hoping for a some sort of miracle that would save my day, but the snow only got worse. I remember reading a report about Music Pass, it took the hikers 45 minutes to walk the 1.25 miles from the trailhead to the top of the pass. Being that it's not exactly summer, it took me 4 hours to reach the pass.

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Trenching


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More trenching


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And some more trenching

I made it to the top of Music Pass by noon and I was completely exhausted. I could see all the peaks I was hoping to climb now and they were tantalizingly close. I had briefly considered attempting TIjeras and just dealing with a nighttime descent. Upon examining the basin I quickly changed my mind, it's at least a solid day's work just to get from the top of the pass to Tijeras' base. It's only a little more than a mile, but very deep snow and lots of bushwacking. I punted, enjoyed some lunch, and headed back. At least got some great pictures on the way.


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Got back to camp by 3pm and made the call to just go home. I was beyond exhausted, soaking wet and my feet were bleeding quite a bit (breaking in new boots). I sucked it up and stumbled the 3.5 miles back to the Jeep, running into the same guy who towed me out of a snow drift the previous weekend (thanks again Adam). Was back in Denver by 10pm. Overall I'd chalk this one up to a character-building trip. I only went 12 miles and 3k' feet but it was more physically and mentally draining than any summer 14er I've done. If I had 4 days off work I'd come back and do it the right way, but until then I'll have to settle for some easier-to-reach peaks. Can't wait for the snow to melt, grabbing all four peaks on a ridge walk would be an awesome climb.

There's a killer trench from Colfax lane all the way up to Music Pass, hopefully someone reads this and takes advantage of all that hard work before it gets blown and snowed in.

Shameless instagram plug: @joeblokker




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
ltlFish99
Excellent report
02/17/2020 01:48
Those pictures are really nice.
I've never been near the place, but this summer I'll be wandering that way.


76dorihe
You're rugged
02/22/2020 10:33
I'm totally humbled by your fitness level and your photography skill. I've never seen those colors in a sunset. WOW


nyker

Good effort
02/22/2020 19:57
Hiking vicariously through your photos here. A for effort.



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