"All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it - walk." - Ayn Rand
Ok sweetheart. If you say so. After some canceled plans and awful windy forecasts, SurfNTurf (Jeff) and I finally set our sights on Mt. Antero. According to Jeff, “Due to the weather forecast for Monday, it would be a crime not to climb something.” The last thing I wanted to do was be labeled a criminal, so off we went.
I drove to the lower Antero Trailhead on Sunday night for a cozy 11 degree night's sleep in my truck and Jeff met me "dark and early" around 6:00am. After gearing up, we began our snowshoe trek up the start of the road toward the upper Baldwin Gulch 4WD trailhead around 6:30am.
There‘s an established and relatively packed trench from the parking area to the trail junction about 3-3.5 miles in.
Jeff and road conditions
If a tree falls on Jeep Road 277...
I'm doing something very important
After reaching the upper TH at 10,840 ft, we turned left onto the trail toward Mt. Antero. From here, the trench isn‘t quite as well established, although it's still easy to follow. We did some post-holing in our snowshoes, but it was minimal.
After about another 1.5 miles, we game to a low-angle gully. At this point, we left the road and took this gully which bisects the road near 12,800. There was avalanche debris from two separate slide paths in the gully. This may or may not be where a climber was recently rescued. The terrain in the gully is a V-shaped trap which will likely get much more dangerous as the snow continues to pile up this winter. For now, the chutes are pretty dry and the debris is settled and compacted. Before reaching the steeper sections of snow in the gully, we opted to take a grass/rock slope that led directly to the road at 12,800. Later on the descent, we came down about 100 feet apart as a precaution.
Leaving the road and heading up the gully
Avy debris in the gully (photo by Jeff)
Obvious crown where the avalanche broke away (photo by Jeff)
As it turned out, this gully was a much better option than staying on the road proper. We noticed the upper west/southwest-facing portions of the road were really wind loaded and would be dangerous to cross. Once we bisected the road at 12,800, we stashed our snowshoes, took the small shortcut trail up to the Antero/Cronin saddle near 13,000.
Our hero triumphantly reaches the saddle
Jeff and Cronin
We finally gained the ridge at 13,700 (or was it 13,705, Jeff?) and got a good look at what remained. The crux of the route is the craggy section in the lower left portion of the photo.
Remaining route from the ridge near 13,700
In summer, the trail bypasses the crags down to the right. With the current conditions, staying low below the ridge proper is not an option. We stayed as high as possible at all times on stable rock to avoid any avalanche danger. This crux becomes exposed class 3 or so - nothing more. Here are a few photos (some were taken on the descent).
(Photo by Jeff)
(Photo by Jeff)
Once past the crux, there is an unavoidable snow field. To the climber's right was unstable snow, so staying at the crest of the ridge is the best option. This photo is on the descent, but shows the extent of the snow crossing.
Snow crossing after the crux
The approach to the summit requires about 400 feet of tedious boulder hopping. The summer route makes an ascending traverse to the climber's right, but that option is out due to a necessary crossing of unstable snow (which can be seen near the top of photo 10). As an alternative, we stayed just to the left of the wind-blown ridgeline on mostly snow-free rock.
Here are some photos from the summit:
SurfNTurf and dmccool
View to Southwest
(L to R) Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton
We were extremely fortunate to have such great weather. It almost felt like cheating...almost. The wind was not really a factor until the ridge and even then didn't seem to exceed 30mph.
Roundtrip Mileage: ~14+
Elevation Gain: ~5,200 ft
Left car around 6:30am
Summit at 1:15pm
Left summit at 1:30pm
Return to car at 5:15pm
Microspikes (crampons would be worthless in the powdered snow)
Elk Sightings: 0
Times sighted by an Elk: ???
Thanks so much to Jeff (SurfNTurf) for making this happen. I can't wait for our next one (cough, cough Harvard)
"Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, And say my glory was I had such friends."
- William Butler Yeats
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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