| Spring Creek Pass Handful
Pt. 13,510 A
Pt. 13,020 C
Pt. 13,162 A
Baldy Cinco (13,383)
Baldy No Es Cinco (13,313)
Mileage: 15.65 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,800
Time: 3:15am-5:15pm (14 hrs)
I have had my eyes on these 5 peaks for a month or so now, but the weather and long drive had stopped me from going for them until now. They came to my attention after reading Furthermore’s trip report from roughly the same time of year, and it looked like a great trip into an area o Colorado I had never been before. My numero uno hiking partner Brandon(Wisco14er) has moved to Durango to go to Ft. Lewis and I really miss getting out into the mountains with him as much as we used to. So when he mentioned on Friday that we should try something on Monday, it was an easy decision to finally get out to Spring Creek pass and see what sort of trouble we could get in.
Left Broomfield at 4:40 after watching a frustrating Michigan State basketball loss and settled in for the 5 hour drive to the top of the pass, in between Lake City and Creede on highway 149. I quickly made my bed in the back of the Forester, read a bit of ‘No Shortcuts To The Top’, and was asleep before Brandon pulled in just before 11pm. We knew it was going to be a long day so the alarm went off at 2:40 and we hit the trail at 3:15am under a bright almost full moon.
I had read that the trail would be groomed for snowmobile use so we were excited about that. The only problem was that they had received a ton of new snow over the weekend and we could not find it. After a half hour of trying to find the snowmobile track we cut our losses and headed up where we thought the trail should have been. Fast forward two and a half hours full of complete bushwhacking, post holing hell and much cursing and we somehow happened upon the real trail. That was a very demoralizing stretch, but the mood picked back up again after stumbling onto the snowmobile track and beginning to actually make progress. For some reference, what took us two and a half hours in the morning took us twenty minutes on the way down!
We finally made it out of the trees and popped up onto the mesa right before sunrise and were blown away by how huge and flat it was. Got some great sunrise pictures and started heading for our farthest objectives of the day, Pt. 13,510 and Pt. 13020. It looked like we would get to where we needed to start ascending in no time, but the mesa is a deceiving place distance-wise. It took forever and a half to cross the dang thing, but the weather could not have been better and it was great catching up and laughing with Brandon again.
Once we finally got to the base of Pt. 13,162, it was a nice change of pace to actually start ascending after all the flat wallowing across the mesa. About two thirds of the way up we saw just how far away Pt.’s 13,510 and 13,020 were, and also how low the saddle between us and them was. Brandon had an old groin injury starting to flare up, so he decided to play it safe and sent me on my merry way. It turns out he made a little shelter near the summit of 13,162 and took a nice nap in the beautiful weather while I was gone.
Pt. 13,510 on left
Looking at Baldy Cinco
Descending to the saddle went fairly well, was able to avoid the worst of the avalanche slopes and finally take off the snowshoes. The ridge from there to the summit of Pt. 13,51 was by far the most fun of the day. Fairly solid class 3 climbing with the added spice of fresh snow. It took two hours but I was finally standing on top and taking in the amazing views of the neighboring San Juan’s, just breathtaking. Not wanting to make Brandon wait too long I ate a Snickers, danced a little to the 1995 New Years Eve Phish show I was blasting, and departed for 13,020.
Can see Wisco14er waaaay over there
Summit of 13,510
This was a weird, extremely unexciting peak. You actually have to go over a subpeak that is a few hundred feet higher, then descend down to the actual summit. Quite a pain in the butt but I had already come this far and wanted all five, not just four. Spent all of thirty second on the summit then hightailed it back to the saddle. Descended the class 3 sections, picked up my stashed snowshoes and water, and began the brutal climb back up 13,162 to where Brandon was. At this point I was really starting to feel the brutal 6 hours of trailbreaking from two days before on Spread Eagle, but I just kept plugging along.
As soon as I popped out on the low angled slopes up to the summit of 13,162 Brandon showed up looking for me, pretty good timing as he was bored and starting to get worried. I was very thankful to have such a great partner who waited for me to tackle the first two peaks alone. We both went to the summit of Pt. 13162 and looked in awe at the ridge over to Baldy Cinco. Two things stood out, the awesome cornices along the entire thing, and how far away the dang summit was. I think it took about an hour to make it to the top of Baldy Cinco, but we were moving very slow at this point.
Wisco14er on Baldy Cinco
Me on Baldy Cinco
After a gummy bear break on the top of Baldy Cinco it was time to finish what we had started and head up Baldy No Es Cinco. Arriving at about 2:30 it was an amazing feeling to be done with the upward portion of our day, and I was so stoked to have gotten all 5 peaks I had been going for. Took a ton more pictures, ate more food, climbed the massive summit cairn, and then planned our descent down.
5 in a day!
He's not that strong
San Juan 14ers
We could see out on the mesa what we thought were our tracks from this morning, and they looked so, so, so far away. That was because they were! After realizing that complaining about was not going to help the situation, we put our heads down and went to work. As we got closer to the tracks we figured out they weren’t our tracks from the morning at all, but that the groomer had gone through while we were up on the peaks all day! We literally were walking on a freshly groomed Colorado Trail and couldn’t have been happier. That did not mean that the mesa got any smaller, but it did mean no more post holing in our snowshoes. We were dead tired at this point and just sort of went on autopilot from there back to the pass and the cars.
ahhh, groomed trail
this place is huge
When we reached the lip of the mesa and dropped down we saw something really cool. In the morning we had commented on the massive cornice that had formed on the lip of the mesa and mentioned how crazy it would be if it broke free. Well, the groomer set it off and left behind quite the avalanche debris field, with some blocks the size of a large SUV. It was really neat to see it all up close, especially since we weren’t around when it all came down. That was definitely a highlight of my day.
Glad we didn't cause this!
One last shot
Got back to the cars at 5:15 after 14 hours and I must say it felt absolutely phenomenal to take off the boots and winter gear after such a long day. Drove down to Creede and had some BBQ, and then we went our separate ways home. Overall it was an awesome day and I am so glad I was able to hit the trail with Brandon again, the next time won’t come soon enough. And a word of advice, they groom the trail on Monday afternoon, so I would recommend a Tuesday climb!
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