| An Awesome Weekend in the Sangres Part 2: Humboldt Pk and Lindsey's NW Ridge
If you haven't seen Part 1 of this report, here it is: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=10930. For whatever reason, clicking the link doesn't work so you'll have to copy it into the address bar or look on the trip reports page to view it.
Anyways, as we were sitting around the fire enjoying dinner after a successful traverse of the Crestones, we realized that in order to knock out two more 14ers, we'd need a really good sleep, so we climbed into our sleeping bags and fell asleep at 8:30 pm.
We started up Humboldt at 6:30 the next morning. This mountain was very straightforward, although more tiring, after climbing the Crestones the previous day, and the views were incredible! There was fog on the tops of the Crestones and the whole valley to the east was covered in clouds, giving us the feel of being above the atmosphere!
Alpenglow on the Needle from the Upper Lake
The fog lifts from the Needle
Climbing up Humboldt's southern slope
Looking down on the South Colony Lakes
We made it to the ridge in about 45 minutes, and suddenly got hit hard by wind gusts! But the views got better and better as we climbed.
Crestone Peak and Needle from the ridge
Looking up Humboldt's West Ridge
There are plenty of false summits before the final, rocky scramble to the "true" false summit of Humboldt. From here, the real summit is obvious.
The true summit of Humboldt
Here we finally got into the long-awaited sunshine and warmed up as we climbed to the true summit of Humboldt.
Hiking toward the summit with a stunning view of the Crestones
A sea of clouds covers the land below
Other than a few rocky sections near the false summit and the scramble to the true summit, there is a fantastic trail on Humboldt. Many thanks to the people who put stair steps in this trail - they were a HUGE help! We got down to camp quickly, other than a brief confusion of figuring out which was the right trail. Basically, the trail descending Humboldt is the same shortcut trail that goes all the way down to the old 4WD trailhead. We had a late breakfast, packed up camp, and started to head back to this trail, but we needed to pick up some water from a stream and treat it with disgusting but necessary iodine tablets. However, when we got to the stream, a man and his wife were filtering water. Would they possibly let us use their filter? Certainly! If you are reading this, thank you so much, you made the rest of our trip way better! With good tasting water, I drank a lot more and was able to keep hydrated for the slog down the road to the trailhead. We climbed into the van and took off to the Lindsey trailhead.
The road up to this trailhead is a whole lot longer, but no more difficult than the South Colony Lakes trailhead. We got up to the trailhead, but we didn't particularly want to set up camp again and have to take it down the next day, so we decided to car camp in the van. This worked out surprisingly well, due to having long, soft benches and a lot of floor space to sleep. This turned out to be the best sleep that most of us had!
We figured that the earlier we started on Lindsey, the sooner we could be on our way home, so we took off at 4:45. The sky was clear and the stars were bright. This is one of the things I love most about getting out of the city.
As we hiked along the trail in the dark, I realized that I hadn't read the trail description, and that there were some important junctions. We knew that we had to keep left, but so much more looks like a trail in the dark than in the light! We spent a lot of time following trails to campgrounds, streams that might have been trails, etc. We finally reached the sign junction for Lily Lake and stayed left. The second junction was harder to find. We did find it, though. It's after the main trail bypasses a rock slide, and the turnoff trail to the left has water running down it and looks more like a stream. We did follow it, however, and then there was no doubt that this was the Mt. Lindsey trail. Encouraged by this, we started hiking on it, but it suddenly got a whole lot steeper. After the trail breaks through the trees, the pitch eases and you cross a big stream. The trail climbs to the top of a rocky headwall and then Lindsey finally comes into view.
Our first view of Lindsey
We kept hiking, and the trail dropped down into a basin and started to climb up the slope leading to Lindsey itself. There is a great view of Blanca and Ellingwood from here.
Blanca and Ellingwood
It appeared to us from below that the top of the grassy slope was the top of the final ridge on Lindsey; this, however, was not the case. There is one more ridge to gain past the one that is visible before the Iron Nipple/Lindsey saddle. This part, although rocky and without much of a trail, is not too long or difficult.
The final stretch to Lindsey's ridge
Our first sunshine on the saddle
From here, we decided that it would be better to take the Northwest Ridge route over the North Gully - stable rock and Class 4 beats Difficult Class 2 and loose rock by a mile! The ridge is almost entirely solid, but be careful not to dislodge any rocks, because they will fly straight down to the standard route.
A look at the options on Lindsey
Climbing fun Class 3 terrain below the ridge crest
We hiked for a bit on the trail and then regained the ridge. We probably stuck to the ridge a bit too well, as there are two or three sharp points along the ridge right before the crux wall that we climbed over, which would be a lot easier to traverse underneath.
Exposure on one of the points below the crux
There are three options on the crux: left side, center, or right side. The left side is definitely the easiest. None of us tried the crack in the middle, but it looked pretty fun and challenging. The right side is the one I took: it's pretty difficult Class 4 climbing, but I enjoyed it.
Looking up the right side of the wall
Looking across the crux wall
Looking down from the top of the wall
There is more ridge scrambling after the crux, but stay on the ridge instead of venturing too far to the left, as the rock gets loose and nasty. Once up Northwest Lindsey, the final stretch to the true summit is short and easy.
On Northwest Lindsey, looking toward Lindsey's summit
We reached the summit at about 9:00, and were the first people on top! There were four other hikers that summited before we descended, but the mountain wasn't busy at all at this time of day, especially for Labor Day.
LB-Blanca-Ellingwood group from the summit
The Crestones in the distance
We descended the standard route. All I can say is, there's a ton of loose rock! We had difficulty figuring out which was the right gully to descend. The key is to climb on the trail right below Northwest Lindsey and then traverse across and down the face until you can see a notch full of pink dirt:
The route to the pink notch
Climb through this notch and down the gully on the other side. We started on the descender's right of the gully and then crossed to the left side and climbed all the way down to the exit trail, pretty much entirely avoiding the gully. This worked out pretty well and although there is some loose rock, it's not as bad as in the gully. Once out of the gully, there is a trail that goes all the way back to the saddle.
Looking back at Lindsey from the saddle
From here, there's just one rocky section off of the ridge and then a trail that goes all the way back to the trailhead! As soon as we got to the car, I removed my hiking shoes and put on sandals. We dunked our heads and dipped our feet in a stream near the trailhead, which was incredibly refreshing after our long weekend!
We drove down to Walsenburg to get gas, and stopped in Pueblo for some long-awaited Chipotle! This was one of my favorite camping trips, and Crestone Needle is my new favorite 14er!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):