| Bald Mountain - gaining the prominence on my first winter 13er.
Information resources: 14ers.com, North Ridge Route.
Estimate: 3400 feet (1036 m) of elevation gain, 9 miles (14.5 km) round trip.
Gear and equipment: Microspikes, Ice Axe, Snowshoes, Poles, Hand Warmers.
Started: 8.45 am, Summited 1.15 pm, Finished 4.00 pm.
I took this picture years ago in Breckenridge, its a nice overview of the route.
In mountaineering terminology in the United States, a 13er is a mountain that exceeds 13,000 feet (3962.4 m) and does not exceed 14,000 feet (4,267.2 m) above sea level. However, not all peaks qualify as 13ers. Summits which qualify are those considered by mountaineers to be independent. Objective standards for independence include topographic prominence and isolation (distance from a higher summit), or a combination of the two. A rule commonly used by mountaineers in the contiguous United States is that a peak must have at least 300 feet (91 m) of prominence to qualify. There are 53 14ers and hundreds of 13ers in Colorado. Since mountaineers from all other countries use metrics and do not know how long the US foot is, they have other view on those criteria. One of the most common approach would be to consider peaks over 4000 m with topographic prominence of at least 500 m. Applying this on peaks in Colorado, we get a list that is composed of 55 peaks, about half of them 14ers, several centennial 13ers and then many of more or less famous 13ers.
Well, I haven’t hiked anything since Christmas and I desperately needed to get out last Sunday (02/12/2012). There is a bad avalanche situation, its winter and I am not a very experienced climber, I did not have a partner to hike with and the weather was supposed to worsen during the day. This made me to choose a mountain with well defined route (thank you Bill, the 14ers.com web does awesome job with that), not very steep, not very difficult, easy to reach the trailhead and easy to follow the route even during limited visibility. Bald Mountain seemed to be exactly that case. Since it has been on my list to do since I adopted the 500 m criteria, I decided to hike it.
Bald Mountain is actually 4171 m high and its clean topographic prominence is 640 m.
I woke up at 5.45, drove to Breckenridge and got easily to the trailhead. I started at 8.45 in the sun and first 1.1 miles to Iowa Mill was a nice hike on a snowy road. Just above it, the road supposed to switchback towards the ridge above the tree line. The road was completely covered with snow and undistinguished. Fortunately, there were some snowmobile tracks directly to the radio-towers. I followed those tracks, the slope is steep and I needed snowshoes. I was concerned about possible avalanches but the snow looked stable, I did not realize any slabs, snowmobiles did not have any problem either and I think the slope was not over 35 degrees (I may be wrong).
The ridge looks much shorter than it really is.
When I gained the ridge, there was much less snow and looking west towards Tenmile Range, I could see the coming the cold front from the west.
There was a beautiful view of Tenmile Range. And still sunny weather.
The sky turned grayish but there were no heavy clouds yet, so I decided to continue along the ridge. I stashed my ski poles and snowshoes and continued with microspikes and Ice Axe. The ridge is bumpy, like a rollercoaster and it is much longer than it initially seems.
This pretty peak is Guyot, I need to hike it somedays.
At one point, close to the summit, there was a lot of snow on the ridge. I though it may be dangerous, so I tried to bypass it on the right side but very soon I climbed into pretty nasty steep slope with loose rock tallus, all covered with snow.
The upper ridge had some snow on it.
I made it through and summited in whiteout.
On the summit, snow, whiteout.
I did not want to deal with the same problem on my way back so, to avoid the snow on the ridge, I went even lower. It was worse there, so in a while, I was forced to climb directly up, I gained the ridge, tried the snow and it was much better than I had anticipated. The best way was not to be afraid of the snow and go through it.
Thats the steep slope I got into when I wanted to avoid snow on the ridge.
The weather kept changing, sometimes it was sunny and sometimes whiteout snowstorm with gusty wind. On the other hand, it provided beautiful and dramatic scenery over Hoosier Ridge, Decalibron and the whole Tenmile Range.
Hoosier Ridge, Red Mntn., DECALIBRON.
Tenmile Range gets some snow.
The rest of the way back to the car was without any problems, it started to snow steadily when I got there and the ski traffic was about 35 mi/h on I-70, so I made it home after 8, completely exhausted.
Advice if someone wants to hike this mountain in winter: Ridge is the correct way to go. Carefull above Iowa Mill, the slope may have some avalanche issue later in the season.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):