| Avoiding the Slush on Antero
Having only ten days back at home in Monument, I was eager to get to the mountains. Given the proximity of the Sawatch Range, I decided on Mt. Antero. I had read the recent reports indicating a lot of snow, so I was just hoping for solid snow, or some additional melt. I saw some of this, but not completely...
I left Monument Sunday night to camp at the Baldwin Gulch TH. I got there around 2230 and went right to bed. My Subaru was able to go about a third of a mile up the 4WD road, but I was going as fast as I could walk, so I just parked the car .
I hit the trail by 0600 and made good time on the remaining 2.5 mile or so road. Only one snow crossing which was not a big deal at all. By the loud roar of the creek, however, I could sense that crossing it was going to be a bit tricky. Sure enough, as I arrived at the crossing, the amount of water flow was staggering. There was no way around it, my feet were to get soaked. They did. I got over it. Then, I arrived at another creek. Same story, but not quite as deep.
After crossing the creek, I finally felt like I was starting to make some altitude. For the most part, I was able to avoid the large snow fields prior to the switchbacks. But after about a mile or so, I had no choice but to walk on the snow. So, I donned my MicroSpikes and retrieved my ice axe. The snow was pretty solid at about 0745 as the sun hat not hit it yet (at least where I was at).
Once I reached the switchbacks, I noticed that there was a valley (not quite steep enough to constitute a couloir) filled with snow. This offered a direct route almost all the way to the south ridge at 13,089ft. I had maybe two or three more switchbacks once I left the valley of snow.
At about about 0830 or so, I reached the south ridge.
From here you can avoid snow for the remainder of the 4WD road (to about 13,700ft). From here, I spent a lot of time route finding to avoid snow (it was post-hole time of day by now) and turning back to find better routes. The most important thing to do is stay high on the ridge. This is the best way to avoid steep snow fields. I spent a lot of time rock-hoping to avoid the slushy snow and I cam real close to giving up.
After crossing the ridge and reaching the final summit push, I was able to stay on dry rock the rest of the way. I reached the summit at a late 1100. I really do not like being this high, this late in the day. I took a few photos and headed back down.
Heading down, I took the road and post-holed at the snow-field crossings. I was getting very frustrated as anyone does with postholing, but I made it back to the car, with soaked feet, at around 1500. Long day, but I was really glad to get another in this early in the season!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):