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Mt. Lindsey
Northwest Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Huerfano/Lily Lake
Start:10,700 feet
Summit:14,042 feet
Total Gain:3,500 feet
RT Length:8.25 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:3/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:240 reports
Cell Signal:19 reports
Sheriff:Huerfano: 719-738-1600
 Costilla: 719-672-3302
Forest:San Isabel
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead


  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Continue 0.5 mile and stay left at the entrance to the Singing River ranch. The road becomes narrow, but still 2WD.
  • Continue 0.9 mile and pass the entrance to the Aspen River ranch.
  • Drive 3.2 miles to reach the the west side of large, landslide area where the road was re-routed in 2016. If you have 2WD and/or low-clearance, park here and walk the last 2 miles to the trailhead.
  • Now on a narrow and rugged road, continue 2 miles to reach the end of the road, at the Lily Lake TH. There are many dispersed camping spots along the way, including some at the parking area.

Route

First, follow the Mt. Lindsey - North Face Route to the 13,150-foot saddle between Iron Nipple and Mt. Lindsey. From the saddle, the northwest ridge is in full view and may look intimidating to some. More than 1/2 way up the ridge a crux wall makes this route more difficult than the standard, north face route - 1 and 2. Finding a Class 3 line around the crux is possible but many climbers simply take a direct, Class 4 line up the brief pitch.

Hike southeast along the ridge on a small trail and near 13,200', where the trail turns east toward the north face, stay right and continue up the northwest ridge - 3. As you climb higher, the terrain becomes more rugged and requires some Class 3 scrambling, especially on the ridge crest - 4. As you scramble toward the crux wall ( 5), it's clear that the route is becoming more serious. Scramble across a steep area below the ridge crest, down to a notch and up to the base of the crux wall. 6 and 7 were taken in this area and show some of the rugged terrain features.

8 is a head-on view of the crux wall, showing several options. One way to keep the difficulty at (exposed) Class 3 is to bypass the wall on the left side. If you choose this option, regain the ridge right after the crux wall to avoid loose terrain. If you're comfortable with brief Class 4 climbing, the best option may be just left of the large, vertical crack in the center of the wall - 9. Carefully pick your line and regain the ridge on easier terrain - 10.

Above the crux, continue up the ridge - 11 and 12. As you ascend, the standard route is directly below, so be careful not to tumble rocks off the ridge - 13. Continue to the 14,000-foot false summit on the northwest end of the summit ridge - 14. Hike southeast for nearly 0.2 to reach the summit - 15. Taken from back at the 13,150-foot saddle, 16 is another look at the ridge.

Notes

The route is much more stable than the standard, gully route.
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16
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