Threemile Creek Trailhead
December 31st - UN10780 and UN10282: 6 miles, 2,450'
January 1st - Spearhead and Kataka: 10 miles, 4,200'
Spearhead Mountain - 11,244'
Kataka Mountain - 12,441'
Closing 2011 - UN10780 and UN10282
2011 wasn't leaving quietly. In fact, it seemed to be going out kicking and screaming. The weather reports predicted gusts over 100mph in the area of Mount Evans which put a damper on the New Years Eve hike being planned through 14ers.com. After Clay and I decided to push off a plan B hike of Kataka and Spearhead to New Years Day, I was left with an open day to wrestle with the angry remnants of 2011. I decided to use this time to scope out the trail we would be using the next day and make an attempt on UN10780. UN10780 is a ranked Mount Evans Wilderness peak that is low enough (I thought) to provide protection from the winds.
Rufus (the dog) and I started up the Threemile Trail around 8AM under a light snow. We followed the trail one mile until we came to an open meadow with nice views of Kataka and Spearhead straight ahead. We left the trail here (near N39 29 56.0 W105 41 16.7) and headed SE in a direct line towards the summit of UN10780. From our turnoff it was only 1 mile to the summit, but 1,500' of elevation. We were mostly protected from the wind, but every once in a while a rogue gust would find its way through and cause a temporary whiteout. Rufus was knocked over a couple times but kept going strong. I donned the snowshoes near 10,000' and used them the rest of the way up breaking through anywhere from 8-20" of snow. The views from the summit weren't anything special (especially with the snow and wind) so we stayed only briefly. We followed our same track back to the trailhead, making the round trip of 5 miles and 1900' in a little over 3 hours.
Since UN10780 went a bit faster than I planned, I decided to head up Guanella Pass road a bit further for a quick hike of UN10282. Other than being ranked, UN10282 has no claim to fame. I figured I had looked at it enough driving by in the past that I should check it out. I took a left off of Guanella Pass Rd onto Bruno Gulch Rd and parked at a pull off SE of the small peak. From the parking spot, we headed up the SE ridge straight up to the summit. This ascent provided some nice views of the swirling winds below. Total round trip for this little guy was 1 miles and 550'. We headed home with plans to return to the area the next day/year...which hopefully would provide some better weather.
Nice packed intro to the Threemile Trail.
Nearing our turnoff point.
Starting up the slope of UN10780.
Getting deeper around 10,000'.
A brief clearing on the descent.
Looking south from the slopes on UN10282'. The peak in the center is UN10780'.
Ascent route up UN10282'.
Welcoming 2012 - Spearhead and Kataka
It was 18 hours later, a brand new year, and I was back at the Threemile Trailhead. This time with backup. Clay, Dillon, myself and Rufus headed back up the now familiar Threemile trail towards today's goals: Spearhead and Kataka. We followed the trail a full 3 miles until we came to a small open area that rests between Kataka and Spearhead. (Near N39 30 55.0 W105 39 41.6) The weather was sunny and calm, a complete change from the day before. We dropped some gear at a resting spot and began ascending the final 600' up the east slopes of Spearhead. The slope was steep and snowy, but we took turns breaking the trail and made it to the top without any issues. Spearhead provided a nice view to the west, and also provided us with a preview of Kataka to the North. We spent some time relaxing and enjoying the nice weather before we followed our tracks back down to our gear stash for some lunch.
From our break spot, Kataka was one mile north, but 1,900' above us. We knew it was going to be a steep one. My legs were already sore from yesterdays battle with 2011, so I started out a bit ahead of Dillon and Clay knowing that they would eventually catch up to me. The slope was covered by aspens all the way to treeline. The terrain was steep, but relatively clear of deadfall. After passing treeline, the ascent turned to rock hopping. I reached the summit around 2:00PM with no sign of Clay or Dillon. I hoped that they weren't waiting down below looking for me, but soon enough I saw them nearing the summit. Do to ankle issues, I didn't want to stop and tighten up so Clay and I agreed we would meet near tree line on the ridge towards Arrowhead Mountain. 30 minutes later, our group was back together and we were breaking trail west from Kataka towards Arrowhead. Eventually, we decided that the mix of snow and fading daylight made Arrowhead a bit unreasonable for this day. We chose a bail gully and dropped due south from the ridge. After about 1 mile of navigation, we found ourselves back on the Threemile trail that we ascended earlier that morning. We chased daylight the rest of the way out and reached the trailhead around 5:00 PM. Great way to start the New Year.
Heading back up the Threemile Trail. Kataka in the distance. What a difference a day makes!
Clay and Dillon trudging up the east slopes of Spearhead.
The views to the west from the summit of Spearhead Mountain.
Another sighting of the Brown Bear Mountaineering Club. (Photo by Dillon)
Our next goal, Kataka, from near the summit of Spearhead.
Derek relaxing at the break spot. (Photo by Dillon)
Working through the aspens on the south slopes of Kataka.
Mt. Logan from the slopes of Kataka.
Breaking treeline. A signature view of the Mount Evans Wilderness.
Clay ascending the slopes of Kataka near treeline.(Photo by Dillon)
Looking off towards Kenosha Pass. A beautiful day.
Bierstadt and Evans from the summit of Kataka Mountain.
Epaulet, Epaulie and Rosalie from the summit.
Dillon nearing the summit of Kataka.
Clay on the broad summit of Kataka.(Photo by Dillon)
Descending towards the ridge to Arrowhead Mountain.
Dillon on the outcropping on the west slopes of Kataka. (my view)
Dillon on the outcropping on the west slopes of Kataka. (Clay's view).(Photo by Clay)
Derek and Rufus descending towards the Arrowhead Ridge.(Photo by Dillon)
Dillon and Clay heading down the bail route from the Arrowhead/Kataka ridge.
Clear skies on a beautiful winter evening.
Heading back out along the Threemile trail.
Clay taking a last look at Kataka (l) and Spearhead (r).
Googleearth track of the day. (Plus UN10780 from the day before)