| High Peaks of the Sand Dune Preserve
May 9, 2012
~10.7 Miles, ~6,100 Gain
Trailhead: Top of Medano Pass
Thanks to a wonderful link posted by Presto in a forum topic, http://www.bushducks.com/tripreps/passopen.htm, I discovered that Medano Pass was open. That made my decision easy on what I wanted to climb since I needed to be in the area for Little Horn and Fluted the following day. My wife and I left Denver around 5:00 PM and made our way towards the Cristos. Unfortunately, when we arrived in the area, it was dark.
Driving up Medano Pass wasn't difficult but it was very muddy and slick since it had just snowed about 4 inches. When we arrived on the top of the pass, I didn't want to commit to driving down the backside due to the road conditions. We set up camp on the top of the pass.
I woke up at 5:45 AM and was hiking down the west side of Medano Pass by 6:00 AM. It really didn't take very long to reach the Medano Creek Trailhead from the top of the pass. As I made my way up the Medano Creek trail, the fresh coat of crunchy frozen snow slowed things down. I guess I can't complain since I am not using snowshoes in early May. At ~10,700, I departed the Medano Creek trail by climbing north towards Point 11,583. The climb started as a steep bushwhack but eased the higher I climbed.
Point 12,883 from low on the Medano Creek Trail.
Point 12,925 and Herard.
Gradually, I did an ascending traverse to gain the east ridge of Point 12,883. Once on the east ridge, I was able to make good time to the summit of Point 12,883 where I arrived at 9:00 AM. I took a short break and enjoyed the fine views of the Crestones.
Upper slopes, east ridge of 12,883.
Crestones from 12,883.
Medano Peak from 12,883.
Point 12,925 in the foreground and Blanca in the background from 12,883.
From the summit of 12,883, I descended 12,883's south-southwest ridge. I bypassed one short rock tower on the left, southeast side, of the ridge. The climb up Medano's north ridge was steep class 2 where I arrived on the summit at 9:50 AM. With the fresh snow, the peaks looked amazing.
North ridge of Medano Peak.
Looking back on the south ridge of 12,883.
Herard from Medano.
12,883 from Medano.
Crestones from Medano.
My stay was short on the summit of Medano and I hiked south on easy terrain and arrived on the summit of Herard at 10:40 AM. Some interesting low clouds prevented me from getting any decent views of the Sand Dunes. Bummer. On my way towards Point 12,925, I had to descend a short snow field and then from the saddle, I walked up the mellow west ridge of 12,925 where I arrived on the summit at 11:30 AM.
North ridge on Herard.
Neat clouds while climbing the north ridge on Herard.
More neat clouds while climbing the north ridge of Herard.
Sand Dunes from the north ridge of Herard.
It was a bit chilly as a small breeze had started so my stay on 12,925 wasn't very long. I descended 12,925's east-northeast ridge until I reached Point 11,950. From 11,950, I headed directly northeast towards a small creek drainage. I was able to find some consolidated snow on the north facing aspects of this drainage and made good time descending back towards the Medano Trail.
Clouds overtaking Point 12,925
Clouds overtaking Herard.
Medano and Point 12,883 from Point 12,925.
Looking down the northeast ridge of 12,925.
Neat conglomerate rock on my descent.
The last 200 vertical feet back to the Medano Trail was a bit of a bushwhack from the small creek draining, but once back at the trail, I made good time back to the trailhead. I really didn't care for the extra elevation gain back up to Medano Pass but it was short lived and arrived back at the car around 1:15 PM.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):