| Yale - post-holing
This is my first TR. I hope I follow the rules and guidelines correctly, please (gently) correct me if not!
I read the other recent trip reports (bummer 'bout the guy who broke his leg, wow!) so we went in knowing that this wasn't going to be an average attempt. However, this was the earliest in the season anyone in our group had attempted a summit, so perhaps we didn't truly appreciate the warnings about "sloshing thru the snow". Well, we certainly have a much better appreciation now!
We are BSA Troop 110, Colorado Springs and were camping in a nearby campground, so we made the Denny Creek trailhead just after 6:30 and were on the trail well before 7:00. Register showed 2 groups ahead of us; we thought that was a good thing; if they turned around then we'd learn from their lesson.
The first 1.5 miles was straightforward; good trail, minimal snow. Then we started to run into the real snow drifts and fields. Early in the morning, we were able to walk on the packed-down paths ontop. Only if someone strayed too far to one side or the other would they break thru (post-hole). The first bridge (open logs) was icy; made for a tricky crossing but everyone stayed dry. The second and third crossings had solid snow bridges over them.
As we approached the third bridge (~11,500) and still in the trees, we started breaking thru more and more. This was when reality started to sink in. At the third bridge, there were lots of tracks but no discernible trail. We lost time with false starts on the east side of the river and finally realized that we needed to go north following the river. The snow was pretty much constant, but stability was good and we soon found the trail as the slope increased and had a clear south-west exposure. We made good time were the trail was open, and not so good time where it wasn't.
Eventually we cleared treeline. Most of the snow fields held us as we walked over them. Most of the time any problems were at the edges. There were times that people had to roll out on their side, or come up an crawl on all 4s. All the extra work was very draining (at least for the adults; the teenagers maybe not so much). After crossing one final large field we began the final assault. The trail upto the saddle was mostly clear, and the spine coming out of the saddle also was mostly clear. Just a final ~50 yard push across a last section of snow and we made the summit at 12:00.
We relaxed ate lunch, enjoyed the view and started decent at 12:45. Return to TH was just before 5:00, total time: 10 hours.
Next time snow shoes? spikes? Maybe, don't know. Doesn't seem reasonable to walk all the way with one or the other, and taking either one on-and-off all the time doesn't seem too appealing either. Perhaps next time we'll just wait another month!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):