| Apache - Queens Way: Take Two
In Attendance: Ted (TCUTED) and myself
Ted ascends Queens Way
*I used the photos for this report to practice Black and White editing in Lightroom. I hope you enjoy them. Constructive criticism is welcome (as is destructive criticism if it's funny enough).
My first short lived attempt on Apache came on Sunday, June 3rd. I had only one day off that week, and wanted to do something close to Denver. Queens Way had been on my list for quite some time, so Apache was an easy decision. On this occasion, the bike ride up to the trailhead from the winter closure was my downfall. Take an out of shape thirty-something, give him a 35 pound pack, and throw him on a bike at altitude at 2:30am and see what you get. Not a whole lot, it turned out. It didn't take long for me to accept defeat. I hung my head, biked back to my car, and went back to sleep.
I remembered seeing a post on the 14ers.com forum earlier in the week by someone looking for a partner for Queens Way on the 9th or 10th. I needed to give this peak another shot, so I found the post by Ted and sent him a message. We agreed to meet at the winter lot on Saturday evening so we could get an early start on Sunday.
The weather forecast for Sunday was looking good apart from the wind, which seemed to grow in severity each time I checked the forecast. I threw my bike and hiking gear in my car and headed up to the mountains. On the way up, I passed through the quaint town of Ward. Here's an interesting little fact about Ward; it is the preferred training ground for aspiring parade float drivers worldwide. 15 mph? Really? I eventually made it to the winter lot and briefly met Ted. We agreed on a 2:45 wake up time and retreated back to our cars to get some sleep. The winds really picked up as the night progressed, and I feared I might have to cancel yet another attempt on Apache.
The 2:45 alarms went off and suddenly Ted and I were busy preparing for the bike ride up to the trailhead. The ride went much better this time around, although I did have to walk a couple sections because I was on the verge of losing my oatmeal. We got to the trailhead and locked up our bikes. I was relieved to have the crux of the route behind us. On to the hike...
Daylight broke as we approached Lake Isabelle, and we were greeted by the amazing views this area has to offer. The winds were too strong to get a decent reflection shot off the lake, but I wasn't too upset...my goal today was to hike Apache. The photography would just have to play second fiddle, or possibly even viola. We continued our approach.
Niwot Ridge and Navajo Peak
As we got closer to Apache, we could start making out possible options for getting up to Queens Way. From the unnamed lake in the upper basin, we noticed we could follow a continuous line of snow all the way up to Queens Way, or we could stay on the mostly dry Isabelle Glacier trail. We opted to stay on the trail amid fear of running out of steam mid-climb. The snow did, however, have great appeal as a glissade on the return.
Unnamed Lake at the base of Navajo, Apache and Shoshoni
After reaching the shelf holding Isabelle Glacier, we could clearly see the line up Queens Way. We both agreed it looked pretty steep from here.
Good look at Queens Way angling up to the left
We took a short break to refuel, get out our axes, and throw on our crampons. Time for the climb! The snow was pretty solid from the night before, and the axes and crampons dug in nicely. This was my second snow climb, the first being the Angel of Shavano last year. Queens Way stays a pretty consistent 35 degrees the whole way up the couloir, noticeably steeper than the Angel. 35 degrees doesn't seem that steep on paper, but it's another thing when you are standing on it.
Photo by Ted
Photo by Ted
Photo by Ted
After topping out of the couloir, we ditched our packs and gear and headed up the talus toward the summit.
Talus leading to the summit
L to R: Arikaree, Navajo, Navajo Jr(?)
Windy Summit (photo by Ted)
We were both concerned about a glissade down Queens Way. I was toying with the notion of picking our way down the ledges route. Ted said he preferred facing the known evil, and convinced me to give the glissade a try. The snow had softened considerably since the climb, making for a nice, slow but steady glissade.
On top of Queens Way, looking toward Shoshoni (peak with the knob right of center)
After safely glissading to the lake, we reorganized our gear, stumbled through the hike out, hopped back on our bikes, and eventually made our way back to our cars. Exhausted.
Ted, thanks again for the great hike and photos!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):