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 Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
 Post Date:  10/24/2011
 Date Climbed:   10/23/2011
 Posted By:  CinciKid

 Mt. Yale East Ridge/Avalanche Gulch   

The snow free hiking season is coming to an end soon so I decided to give it another shot before I needed to break out the snow shoes. My cousin goes to school in the Springs, where I live as well, so I called him up to see if he wanted to go. I had dragged him up his first 14er during a pretty difficult route up Huron Peak about three weeks earlier. He said he wanted to go so we left the Springs at about 0600 and got to Mt Yale's Avalanche TH at 0800. We set out at 0815 up the Colorado Trail. The sky was clear and the weather was warm, especially for late October. We hiked up the switchbacks for a while until the trail flattens out. This part of the trail is especially nice as you wind through the trees on a decently flat trail.
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After about 1.5 hours we reached the saddle where the Colorado trail continues straight, a trail to a Twelver goes right, and the trail along Yale's east ridge goes left. We hung a left here and continued up the trail to the east ridge.
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The ridge was fairly easy at first. We avoided the snow whenever possible but there was not too much of it so it wasn't that hard. After a bit of hiking up the ridge, the trail became much more rocky and harder to navigate. At several times through the ridge we made what I felt like were class 3 moves, having to hike up and down rock formations to avoid deep snow.
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There were several false summits along the ridge. It took us 1.5 hours to hike the 3.3 miles on the Colorado trail and 3 hours to hike the final 2 miles, so that tells you what kind of pace we were going at. The ridge is much more tiring than I expected, but it was probably due to snow hiding most of the trail forcing us to go around it. Although it was hard, the scrambling was fun at first. After doing this for a couple hours it started to get old. False summit after false summit made it seem like we were going to be on the ridge forever.
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Finally the true summit came into view. It took us about 4.5 hours to reach the summit. We knew that one time through the east ridge was enough. We started trying to find a different way down.
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After spending 45 minutes on the summit we started down. We took a route down towards the saddle between Yale and Mascot Peak, the 13er directly south of Yale.
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We found a manageable place to get down into Avalanche Gulch and started descending rapidly. We started heading across the gulch and soon found that the gulch floor was full of bushes that we had to bust through. This was very tiring but I do think this route cut off considerable mileage and time from our trip down. The picture below shows the gulch.
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After the thick bushes the terrain turns very rocky and we had to boulder for a while until the terrain opened up into a pretty open area with lots of trees.
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We continued hiking until we found a big creek which we figured was the one that ran right by the TH so we followed the creek most of the way down. We rejoined with the trail maybe a half mile from the TH.
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We followed the car to the TH and after about 8 hours RT we were done. This was a very fun hike with the ridge being a bit of a challenge. The descent down Avalanche gulch probably saved us time and distance, but it was difficult at times having to fight your way through the terrain. Below is the route we took.
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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (2)
MtnHub


Nice report!     2011-10-24 15:53:37
Looked like a perfect fall day for the climb! Nice pics! I love ridge climbs and that's a fabulous ridge to go up. I've done it twice now, but continued over the other side down to Denny's Creek. You can either hitch back down to Avalanche or do a car pool thing with a partner. Wouldn't relish the bushwacking you did down the gulch, but then I'm getting old! Thanks for the post!


Stee Vee Dee


You succeeded where I failed.     2011-10-24 20:06:36
Actually a storm got me. In July 2006, I remember well spending about a half hour behind a large rock while a hailstorm with lightning pelted the ridge. I was at most 600 feet from the summit, but there was too much weather and I headed back. I started down the ridge, but bailed out before I got to Point 13420. I then went down a loose gully where I had to watch for rocks from above that I had loosened. One of my scarier experiences. I still like ridge routes but I have learned to watch the weather. Thanks for the report and glad you had a good day for it.



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