| Mt. Lindsey- assault of the NW face
Fresh from the Chicago Basin, we looked to test our skills on some challenging terrain. Thanks to some timely suggestions by 14ers.com members, we decided on Mt. Lindsey's NW face (with an alternate ascent should we lose our nerve).
We set off just before 7am having driven down that morning. The weather was cool and the foliage was soaked with moisture from an earlier storm. We found pockets of melting hailsnow along the way. Winding through the soggy forest for the first mile was a little tedius, but when the trail took a steep turn up a gully all illusion of ease vanished. This trail was easy to follow once we started going uphill. Before too long you find yourself on a hill just above treeline with wonderful 360 degree views. You then realize that a couple hundred feet of downclimbing is required down into a basin and up to the saddle with iron nipple (watch out for the "false saddle). After the false saddle there is some boulder-hopping up to the saddle proper. From here there is a commanding view of the route ahead. It looks steep!
Looking back on the small gulley.
This I believe is a Centennial 13er. Once you got past the initial rib, it looks like it would be pretty easy to attain the summit. We were too tired to go after it.
Here we bumped into James and Barton, two gentlemen from Boulder who had some experience climbing on rocks. We decided to join forces with these fine folks and tackle the route together. It made for some interesting times!
We made the typical mistake of staying too high on the ridge, being only a couple feet from the top. We ended up having to complete an awkward and exposed class 4 downclimb to a small notch, and then crossing probably a 15 foot long knife edge to reach the base of the class 4 wall. The exposure wasn't too bad, but it seemed to me that this little manuver could be compared to the Capitol Peak knife edge (again, slightly easier, less exposure). The rock was solid and grippy. You only had about 20 feet to fall before you would stop so we never really felt in danger.
The actual class 4 climbing started out easy enough. Towards the top it got sketchy and I had to make some uncomfortable moves to gain higher ground. For me, the worst part was an overhanging chunk of rock that I had to pull my body up and over with my arms alone and ended up using the skin on my legs and knees as a third point of contact. There was also one move with really poor handholds that seemed a little sketchy.
Once the class 4 section was done, the rest of the hike was a cakewalk. We were all smiles and high spirts as we continued up the solid, unexposed and interesting 2+ summit ridge to NW Lindsey, and then on to the true summit. If I had to do it again, I would take the class 4, but I would start lower and stay left.
As a sidebar, we were really lucky to have Barton and James leading the way for us, it really helped I think mentally knowing that they had already ascended and encouraged us upward.
The summit of NW lindsey offers a view of the remaning route- easy class 2 stroll with (relatively) little exposure; fun scrambling and walking with amazing views.
From the true summit, the views are outstanding. We made out the entire Crestone group with Ease, and Blanca/Ellingwood and Little Bear called to me as we gazed across the valley.
The weather was calm and warm with few clouds. Perfect day!
This is Little Bear frompoking up from the summit of Lindsey.
The descent down the gulley was loose and crappy and slow, but I only slipped once when a handhold I was pulling on popped out unexpectedly. Unfortunately we found someone so spooked by the "crux" of the standard route that she decided at 13,700' to pull the plug on her summit attempt.
Later on on the "false saddle" we heard a distant but very loud rockslide in the Blanca direction. We didn't see any dust or moving rocks. It lasted at least 15 seconds and one of the rocks was rather large.
This is a great climb, a classic Colorado peak, and a wonderful day in the mountains.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):