Mount Antero via Raspberry Gulch - Not Baldwin Gulch - Not Brown's Creek - Not by ATV or 4WD
Bill Wood (wildlobo71)
Mic Maryanski (rubiblu06)
Bill Beagle (beagle)
*Tana Sorsgaard (mountaintan)
Date: June 25, 2011
Departed from Trailhead: 7:00am (late!)
Summit Time: 1:00pm
Departed Summit: 2:30pm (see explanations below)
Lolligagged back to TH by: 7:20pm
Total mileage: 8.7 miles RT; Total Vertical Gain: 4,760'
* - Tana was unable to complete the trip this day.
NOTE: My goal in the title of the report is so when someone searching for Mount Antero and Baldwin or Brown's Creek comes into the search field, this report ALSO pops up... It's worth that much to spread the word about this seldom used opportunity.
Okay, last week after hiking in the Retirement Range I knew that I wanted to get another 14er under my belt before my July 4th weekend outing to Chicago Basin. Antero has been on my "hold your nose and get it done" list for a couple of years since my quest began. I've discussed and read through countless reports how hiking the road from Baldwin Gulch stinks, especially on a weekend during the day with potential ATV and 4WD traffic, and that the Brown's Creek route is far prettier but a lot longer, especially from the trailhead. Aren't there any other options? I searched and found the three trip reports for Raspberry Gulch TH, two of which are 5 years old (freeze, ceadda,) and Doctor No's attempt last year. This sounded appealing if for nothing else than getting off the well-beaten path. I rounded up one of my best friends, Mic, solicited hiking buddies online and Beagle, Curt and Tana all spoke up, interested in this alternate route.
2:45am, Saturday morning, Denver... alarm set way too loudly (on purpose) goes off, not that it needed to. Nerves about oversleeping kept popping me awake every 10 minutes from 1:30 on. 3:15am, pick Mic up and head down to Monument for Beagle. We arrived at the trailhead by 6:40am, where Tana and Curt were waiting. Gear assembled, and hit the trail by 7:00. That's typically a late start, but hoping that the weather report would hold true, we weren't really concerned about storms. We left behind snowshoes - determined from the drive up Raspberry Gulch - there appeared to be almost no snow left below tree line, and only easily avoidable patches above. I took microspikes and my ice axe - neither saw action as this was the dryest route I've been on this season.
DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAILHEAD
Start on US 285, 3.6 miles south of Nathrop, look for CR 270, first turn south of the old Red Brick farmhouse on the west side of the road. Take this road 1.5 miles, then continue straight as it becomes CR 272. Continue 2.0 miles on CR 272, stay right and it becomes CR 274; another 0.25 miles turn left on CR 273, which becomes a rockier, narrower 4WD (or extremely patient and willing to risk damage on a 2WD vehicle) road with lots of severe drainage cuts (coffee spillin' bumps.) Follow this road into the Gulch for another 2.0 miles until you reach the parking and dispersed camping area. Trailhead Elevation: 9,600'.
Starting up the trail, which is an old abandoned mining access road for the neighboring Point 11,038' peak (an official peak, you baggers... don't miss your opportunity to score this one, the 1,764th tallest in the State.) Hike up, including one long switchback, to the saddle, elevation 10,520'). At the saddle, the trail appears to fork around an island of vegetation, at this point turn left (west) and head into the forest.
Old road as trail.
Turn left at the saddle and jump into the forest.
From this point forward, the goal is "up", not "around" or "follow trail". This is a steep, thickly forested climb (approx. 950' in 0.4 miles). At about 11,450' it flattens out a bit on a bluff of sorts, and you can re-establish the next "up" milestone, a bit more through the trees of old bristlecone and other pine and aspen varieties. In reality, only Mic took the "quick" way right up the hill; the rest of us lost him as he is incredibly fast, and we were left to our own devices... our devices found a game trail that traversed nicely to the north - offered great views of the Chalk Cliffs and Mt. Princeton, but we could tell we didn't follow the "up" principle, so once on the north side of this area, we went up, to find Mic waiting for us. This will happen a lot on this trip, especially on the ascent. He is a hiking (and everything else) beast.
View of the Chalk Cliffs
Pressing on through treeline to Point 12504'.
The slog above treeline... be prepared for a lot of this.
Above treeline and heading to Point 12,504', we could see a game trail traversing in the general direction we were heading (towards the 13,105' point) so we followed it, staying off the 12,504' summit. Whichever your poison, this area was tolerable for traversing, the talus here had some soil and plant composition around it locking it into place... do not traverse beyond Point 13104', it gets nasty.
The view from Point 12504' up to the summit (the one with the snow.)
At the top of point 13,104', we rested briefly, allowing the suddenly relentless wind a chance to blow before we resumed... For the rest of the ascent, it was a constant companion. Ahead of us is a really cool ridge wall and we weighed the merits of hitting the ridge straight up or trying to skirt it to the climber's left a bit (much like picking which line to pursue on the Sawtooth, based on your comfort.) Bill, Beagle, and Mic chose to hit the ridge, and what a great option! This was easily Class 2+ and low 3, with some opportunity for serious scrambling and technical moves - mostly focused toe and hand holds that wanted to slip free at that perfect moment. We got to the top of Point 13,888' at about 11:30am. Curt layed back - slowed a bit by an aching knee - pursuing the traverse through the talus - a decision he would regret and we don't recommend. Most of this talus is surf-ready and very tippy - especially on the descent.
NOTE: we recommend both ascent and descent as close to the ridgeline as possible - the talus is most stable here... that said, there were still moments of bad footing and butts hitting rocks on the descent.
The ridgewall up to Point 13888' and over to the summit. Stay on this as much as possible.
This is the skill level required for 90% of the ridge.
This is what it looks like if you want to avoid the ridge... yick!
From Point 13,888', it's still a clear shot to the summit, a couple of high ridge points to work around and then the final pitch to the summit. Here and there we could work on some good scrambling moves.
From Point 13888' to the summit, shallower version of the ridge, but still up in loose talus if you choose against the ridge.
Mic working a small section requiring more technical skill... you can skirt this (but why??? it's fun!)
Final summit pitch.
Bill, Beagle, and Mic arrived at the summit right at 1:00pm. Boots off, food and flask of Glenlivet 12 year old out for consumption. Another group on the summit, two women, sat at the empty register canister enjoying their view to the east. After pictures of them, for them, and hello/goodbyes they made their way down to the Baldwin Gulch side and the three of us, alone on the summit, proceeded to take a glorius 45 minute nap! Out like a light! It was beautiful; the air was warm, the wind was blowing over us but not on us... Very cool moment. About 1:50 or so, Curt arrives at the summit and for the next 40 more minutes we met another party of climbers that came up Brown's Creek, snapped photos, continued to be as lazy as possible, and then slowly gathered ourselves for the down climb.
Group summit shot. (L-R) Beagle, Curt, Wildlobo71, Rubiblu06.
The best part of this downclimb is that, from the summit, you can see almost the entire route down until the very first saddle.
Stay on the ridge, and the high-points all the way to the trees... then stay on the ridge to the saddle.
Staying on top of the ridge all the way down, and even hitting all the summits of the points along the way versus traversing them was much easier on the feet and legs; the talus is relentless on the way down. Approaching the summit of 12,504', we pick a line through the forest - a hard thing to do because this forest is so thick we probably added 1/4 to 1/2 mile of bobbing and weaving to pick a clean path through the trees - and set a bearing on a compass with the summit of Point 11,038' as our destination - if you make it to that peak, you will cross the old road/trail down to the trailhead.
The weather, except for some annoying but tolerable wind was excellent... with a day like this we could afford to take our time.
Bluebird day in the Sawatch! 4pm photo of neighboring Princeton - awesome!
Entering the trees, for about a mile it's a gentle bob and weave, like I said... you may see a cairn or two at some of the high points, but just stay within the top-line of the ridge to your left at all times and you won't miss anything. After one high point, you've reached the 950' wall - be careful on this, the rocks float, the pine needle beds are just as slick, and most trees you may grab for support are dead and will snap... take it slow.
We got to the saddle at approximately 6:50, and arrived at the trailhead at 7:20pm. If you are out for the summit only, expect perhaps an 9 hour RT. We spent 90 minutes on the summit, and 10-20 minutes in other locations. It wasn't an efficient hike, but it was a hell of a lot of fun and the only way I will recommend seeing Antero.
Before departing, we all decompressed at the trailhead to some chatter and Commodores.
Back in Denver after midnight, but who cares?
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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