Elevation Gain: 3,912'
Partners without cameras: Darrin (kansas), Kris (crossfitter) & Kelli
North Arapaho has been taunting me for over a decade now. It's a peak that I see nearly every day. Three years ago I was on the summit of South Arapaho, but as I was solo and still new to class 3, I didn't complete the traverse. Finally, this past weekend, it was time for the taunting to end.
The morning broke cool and fresh as we geared up at the mostly empty trailhead. I lead a relaxed pace up the very familiar trail from the 4th of July trailhead. The many switchbacks ease you up the traverse around the slopes of "Old Baldy" on your right. We arrived at my favorite overlook point just as the first rays of sunlight were trickling in. I never tire of this view of Jasper and Neva. Though it does remind me that I need to plan my trip to Neva sometime during snow climbing season...
Alpenglow on Jasper & Neva
After making the turn away from the Arapaho Pass trail, we find a boulder than apparently needs to be climbed, and climbed again.
After I tear the monkeys away from the boulder, we finish the trek up to the saddle, where a nice view awaits us.
Approaching the saddle
View from the saddle
From the saddle, there are multiple trails that wind along the jagged ridge to the summit of South Arapaho. Usually it is best to follow the trail closest to the ridge proper, though there is one major false summit on the way up.
Kris being a monkey
Kelli striking a pose
Pano from S Arapaho
After a short break on the first summit, we make our way towards the ridge traverse. The first half of the 0.6mi traverse is relatively simple. You can even remain ridge proper if you like. Darrin and Kris stayed ridge proper in photo #12 and Kelli and I dropped down along a well beaten dirt path the skirts this first class 3 section to the west (climbers left). There is an orange arrow pointing towards the trail.
Starting the traverse, ridge proper
Boys go ridge proper, gals follow the route as it wraps around to the left
Halfway through, is the famous slab. We all thought it goes class 4, as most of the holds have been worn smooth by all the hands and shoes treading up and down it. The exposure is limited, especially if you go up the middle of the slab.
The class 4 slab
Once beyond the slab there is a lot of smooth rock to traverse ridge proper or just slightly to the west of. In one section we stayed ridge proper and had a class 4 descent of blocky slabs. Looking back (photo #19) the class 3 option wrapped around the ledges to the west.
Optional class 4 section
Looking back on the optional class 4. Class 3 wrapps around on the lower ledge
The last crux is finding the SW gully splits North Arapaho's summit block. The key is to go back up to the ridge proper and look for the giant intimidating blocks that tower over and guard the gully. From there it's a scramble up a loose scree gully to the more stable class 3 section above.
Looking for the final crux: SW gully. Note it is not the one on the left
Giant blocks guard North Arapaho's summit
Beyond the big blocks, follow the gully to the wide summit
The summit cairn dominates the landscape and we took a nice break enjoying the well earned summit! This was only Kelli's second peak (the first being Huron) and her first class 3/4 as well.
The views from North Arapaho to the north were just spectacular, and everything I hoped they would be after the long wait to see them.
The rough west face of Navajo infront of Longs Peak
View of the northern IPW never gets old!
The cliffy nature of the N Arapaho summit. Looking back at South Arapaho
We couldn't stay too long on the summit, as puffy clouds were starting to build, and I had a date with "Old Baldy" to attend to. We made quick work of the scrambling sections in reverse, and opted for the class 4 section again. As scrambling up class 4 is much more fun! Only issue we had was a CMC group had set up a rope on the slab crux with 5 people waiting in the queue. Thankfully the trip leader allowed us to pass by first, and we all zipped down the slab quickly and efficiently.
Darrin oblivious to the exposure, strides along
CMC group - or the Hilary Step
As no one else in my group had the desire or motivation to go hike "Old Baldy", I zipped on ahead once we were through the route finding section of the ridge traverse, and made quick work over to "Old Baldy". On the summit I couldn't resist a quick nap on the summit, as I knew my group was slowly making their way down to the saddle to enjoy some snow cave - frosty beverages. Personally, the view from the third summit of the day was worth the couple minute delay in frosty drinks!
A nap with a view
The view worthy of taking the extra steps up Old Baldy