| Lonely Bicentennials with Others
July 18, 2011
~14.8 Miles, ~6,400 Gain.
Trailheads: Colorado Trail off of the Rio Grande Reservoir road and various locations off of the Stony Pass road.
Strange weather. Again, the alarm went off at 4:45 AM and it was raining so we went back to bed. We woke up around 6:00 packed up camp and made the short drive to the Colorado Trail trailhead. Crossing the Rio Grande River wasn't as dramatic as a few days prior. Hiking by 6:45 AM, we made decent progress up the Colorado Trail. Trails are a delicacy on these 13eeners.
Rainbow at the start of the hike.
Our turn off of the trail at ~11,200 arrived quickly and we made a direct line towards the south ridge of NW Pole. Time to test the tired legs on a steep hill towards the south ridge. Once on the south ridge, class 2, we encountered our first view of the summit block which appeared to be, nevertheless, interesting. Around ~13,400, our grassy slopes turned into a talus hop where our progress slowed down.
Heading for the south slopes from the Colorado Trail.
Shedding a layer on the south slopes of NW Pole.
Looking up the grassy south slopes of NW Pole.
Looking down the south slopes of NW Pole.
First view of the summit block on NW Pole.
Once we reached the summit block, we traversed the east side of the block and climbed the block from the north. I climbed the summit block directly from the north side heading south, class 3, which was extremely exposed but solid while john took a angling gully/chimney, class 4 (2-3 moves), on the east side which was less exposed. We arrived on the summit of NW Pole at 9:00 AM. For the descent off of the summit block, we both took the less exposed class 4 gully.
Traversing the east side of the summit block.
Exposure off of the summit block.
Pole Creek Mountain from NW Pole.
John on the summit of NW Pole.
2-3 move class 4 down-climb.
Summit block from the north.
Summit block from our descent from the east.
Options on the summit block of NW Pole.
Back on solid ground, we headed directly east on on talus slopes towards Pole Creek Mountain. Travel across the saddle was quick as the talus turned into grass. Unfortunately, as we climbed up the class 2 north ridge of Pole Creek Mountain, clouds started to engulf the summit. The clouds made the rock formations look surreal.
NW Pole from near the NW Pole-Pole Creek saddle.
Pole Creek Mountain from the north.
Neat blocks with weather.
More neat blocks with weather.
Right as we reached the summit at 10:20 AM, the clouds cleared out and we were able to get decent views. After a short break, we descended the west gully off of Pole Creek heading into a basin between Pole Creek and NW Pole. The descent was quick on the loose talus but I couldn't recommend climbing up this gully. Heading west, we re-intercepted the Colorado Trail which took us back to our car where we arrived just past high noon.
John nearing the summit of Pole Creek Mountain.
NW Pole from Pole Creek Mountain.
Talus west gully on Pole Creek Mountain.
More neat rocks.
John was heading back to Denver and was planning on climbing a Chaffee county summit. Since the weather was looking good, I bummed a ride towards Stony Pass so I could add on another two 13eeners. John dropped me off at a river crossing at ~11,920 off the Stony Pass Road. From where he dropped me off, I proceeded up the grassy west slopes of Sheep Mountain and around ~13,000 the grass turned into an obnoxious talus. The summit plateaued out and I finished on a class 2 ridge on the eastern edge of the summit plateau arriving at 1:20 PM. For the most part, the weather appeared to be holding.
Grassy west slopes of Sheep.
Greenhalgh from the summit of Sheep.
Looking west over the Sheep Mountain Plateau from the summit of sheep.
My stay was short and I started towards Greenhalgh. The east ridge on Sheep was an extremely loose talus descent and would be horrendous to ascend. Once at the Sheep-Greenhalgh saddle I made the quick ascent up the Greenhalgh's class 2 “solid” talus west ridge arriving on the summit at 1:45 PM. A quick duo.
Greenhalgh from the Sheep-Greenhalgh saddle.
Sheep from the summit of Greenhalgh.
I returned to the Sheep Greenhalgh saddle and descended directly south on steep grassy slopes. I re-intercepted the Stony Pass road and met my wonderful car shuttle which ending a three day climbing spree. Whew. A fantastic, rewarding and very efficient 13eener tour de Beartown. Now for the beer.
Sheep from the descent towards the Stony Pass road.
Greenhalgh from the descent towards the Stony Pass road.
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