November 6, 2011
~8.7 Miles, 2,900 Gain
Trailhead start: Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead.
Trailhead end: Denny Creek Trailhead (Same for Yale)
Since my last excursion, the temperature has dropped and the snow has fallen. I met Al at the Denny Creek trailhead around 9:30 PM Saturday night where we slept in the back of our cars. It was cold and looking back the low temperature in Buena Vista that night, the temperature was a balmy 7 degrees Fahrenheit. With daylight savings time, we “slept in” and made the short drive to Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead around 6:30 AM. Fortunately, the Cottonwood Pass gate was open for “Hunters Only” allowing us to save ~2 miles.
We started hiking up the Ptarmigan Lake trail around 6:45 AM in a snow flurry and without hesitation, we immediately put on our snowshoes. Only about 8 inches of snow at the start of the hike but enough to make post-holing energy consuming. Working our way up the trail, we lost and found the trail several times. In spots, the snow was 20-25 inches deep making the legs burn thoroughly as we wallowed breaking trail. Got to love the north facing aspects.
The start of the snowshoe. (Photo by Al)
Snowshoeing a little higher. (Photo by Al)
Al breaking trail.
Eventually, we were able to climb out of treeline but found ourselves on the wrong side of the valley. There was plenty of fresh powder in the willows as we crossed the valley finally reaching Ptarmigan Lake. It was nice to take off the snowshoes. Instead of heading towards the Gladstone-Jones saddle as I had originally planned, we headed southeast directly up a rock rib from Ptarmigan Lake gaining the long west ridge of Gladstone. Fortunately, the weather started to clear.
A short clearing in the weather.
Out of treeline. (Photo by Al)
Willows 'n Snow.
Another clearing of a false summit of Gladstone.
The rock rib.
Al ascending the rock rib.
Me nearing the top of the rock rib. (Photo by Al)
Al finishing the rock rib.
Al finishing the rock rib.
Once reaching the west ridge of Gladstone, it was a long haul over several false summits. All class 2 but more time consuming with plenty of fresh snow. Although, the weather was clearing, there was an arctic wind that kept things cool. We reached the summit at 12:00 PM and our stay was short since the wind was cold. Instead of returning back over the several false summits, we decided to head directly for Al's car parked at Denny Creek.
Emma Burr from the west ridge of Gladstone.
Starting the long ridge on Gladstone. (Photo by Al)
One of the false summits. True summit can be seen in the distance. (Photo by Al)
The true summit from a false summit.
Working our way to another false summit. (Photo by Al)
Descending a false summit. (Photo by Al)
Another false summit.
Al working his way up the final false summit.
Me working my way up another false summit. (Photo by Al)
To the real summit. (Photo by Al)
Al nearing the summit.
Princeton from the summit.
Antero from the summit.
Looking west at the many false summits.
From the summit, we descended down Gladstone's northeast ridge to ~12,600, and then descended, north, down a rib into the basin just south of the beaver ponds. Once back in the trees, we strapped on our snowshoes and worked our way downward. Plenty of dead-fall and fresh snow made things interesting and we popped out just east of the beaver ponds. It was a short stroll to Al's car where he shuttled me back to my car parked at Ptarmigan Lake trailhead. It seems too soon to get the snowshoe legs into shape.
Al on the descent.
Mt Yale from our descent.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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