| NW Ridge From Missouri Gulch
Sunday seemed like the ideal day to take advantage of great weather, including diminished winds from the previous couple of days, and not have to sit in the parking lot en route back to Denver on Memorial Day, so I headed up early to take care of the business called Missouri Mountain that dannyg23 and I had opted not to climb along with Bel/Ox last year.
Got to the trail head about 6 am and was pleasantly surprised to see a few spots left in the parking lot. I hit the trail at 6:15 and caught up with Michael J just before the first stream crossing below treeline. Mike was another solo hiker who had the same plans, so we headed up together. It was not only very enjoyable hiking with Mike, but just nice to find a new climbing partner, especially one that matches my pace!
As mentioned in previous conditions reports, things are free and clear all the way up past tree line. After the first trail split (Belford/Missouri), we encountered some icy streams that required a little creativity to cross, as it was questionable as to whether the ice would still hold at that hour.
Continuing up, we encountered the first snow fields that we could avoid for the most part by skirting along the sides, although they were solid enough at that point to just walk across. They also made the trail a little hard to follow, but no big deal- just follow the footprints.
As we headed up towards the ridge, the trail switchbacks crossed a few snow slopes, but still generally didn't require any added traction at that point, although there was one we decided to duck below. The upper part of the trail before the ridge was dry until just prior to gaining the ridge, but the remaining snow just before the ridge was easy to cross.
Once on the ridge, we decided to put the microspikes on, which we probably could have gotten by without, except for the little 'crux' downclimb, where they were nice to have. But, since we had traction on and the snow was solid, we decided to walk along the snow ridge until just before the crux. Once past the crux, the trail was dry to the summit, which we reached at about 9:45.
After the obligatory summit shots and 15 minutes of trying to get feeling back in our fingers, we headed back down. We found a good snow slope just to the south of where the trail gains the summit, and tried some glissading. It was still too hard at the top at that point, but about half way down, things softened up enough to allow a decent glissade.
We could still make our way down through the lower snow fields without postholing- for the most part. We got back to the trail head shortly after 12:30. There was very little wind on the way up, but it started blowing pretty good on the summit. On the descent, the wind subsided once again, but just above treeline, the clouds started to roll in and the wind started picking up.
All in all, a great day! I was a bit surprised at how few people we saw on this route, especially on a holiday weekend. Thanks for the company, Mike!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):