With Jeff, Greg and Rob's 14er finisher on Sneffels on Sat, I figured it would be a good time to come down early and explore the 13ers south of Ouray, along the Million Dollar Hwy. I didn't think I could do Furthermore's 18.5 hour trek of all 12 or so peaks in one day, so I decided to split it into two more manageable days. Haha yeah.
So wednesday evening I found myself driving up the Imogene Pass Rd in the dusk after just sitting out a hail storm under the C cut on the Yankee Boy Basin Rd. So all the rocks were wet on this 4WD low - high clearance road. Fun! A few times I had to get out of the vehicle to spot the line. It's mostly giant bulbous rocks exposed on the road that need to be slowly crawled over. Plenty of "tippy" features too. So when I found the split in the road where the Richmond Pass Rd broke off, as well as the Richmond Trailhead, I was quite happy to finally stop driving and start cooking my dinner. My nerves were a little raw after that drive.
Next morning, I sleep in a bit as I know all the rain from the previous day will create verglace on all the rock surfaces and the hail/graupel will need to melt too. The descent off of Hayden Mtn South has some class 4, that I want to be mostly dry by the time I get there. So I start up the mining road and see the first alpen glow on Potosi.
Sunrise on Potosi
Above the mine, I follow the road until the upper basin where I divert over to the NE to find the Richmond Pass Trail. You can follow the mining road almost all the way up to the pass, if you like, as the Richmond Pass Trail is very difficult to spot, and appears not well travelled. At some point I give up on going up to the pass, and head directly up the slope to the summit.
Heading up the Richmond trail, sorta
Sneffels and Potosi
On the way to the summit I can see that the verglace has melted in the sun, and I spend only a few minutes before heading onwards to Hayden North.
Looking towards Hayden North
The descent off of Hayden South was better than advertised. Of course, Furthermore did this in the dark, so that's amazing in itself. I found a class 3 variation to the class 4 that he did. But it was down some fairly chossy gullies. The rock is solid at the sides, and so I zig zagged my way down this section until I got on the grass. From there I contoured around both ridge bumps till I saw the connecting ridge to Hayden North. From there I descended a scree gully and traversed over along talus to near the ridge. Once on the steep ridgeline, I followed that up to the summit of Hayden North
Looking back at the scrambling off of Hayden South
Route over to Hayden North
Looking back at ridge to Hayden North
From Hayden North, I was pretty close to Ouray down below, and would be the farthest north on Hwy 550. I could see the summits of the more easterly San Juans had gotten some snow in the previous day's storm. Plenty of colorful leaves to be seen down in the valleys.
Sneffels, Potosi and Teakettle
Rough ridge back to Hayden South
Snow on Uncompaghre, Wetterhorn, Handies part of SJ's
The leaves be a turning!
The return trip to Richmond Pass felt like it took forever, but at least the route finding was done. From there I decided that I should continue the ridge over "T 8" and "T 7", instead of dropping down to my vehicle to drive up Imogene Pass and hiking Chicago and Tomboy Peaks. There was tons of traffic on the road now, and it looked like getting that next section of ridge over with in the afternoon, may be better than first thing next morning.
Contouring around and past Hayden South - on east side
Route over to "T 8"
Looking across basin at Chicago Peak
Ridge off of Hayden South
Route to "T 8"
More Sneffels range
Looking back at Hayden South
Along the ridge to "T 8", there was one section of blocky mini towers to avoid by dropping to the north by a little bit. Otherwise the stroll to the next summit was fairly easy. From there though, things got a bit more interesting. From Furthermore's TR, I knew to not bother going up the "T 7" ridge from the saddle. But how far to drop down? I made many decisions, staying high, dropping down, going back up again. All crap on craptastic loose rock. Best bet, drop from the saddle down to the valley below, and traverse over to the grassy ramp that will take you back up to the ridge and summit. I wasted too much time trying to stay high on the sliding slopes.
Where the ridge to "T 8" got interesting
Ridge over to "T 7"
Where it gets rough, loose and cliffy on ridge to "T 7"
Looking back at "T 8" and crappy ridge
On the summit of "T 7", I took a long break, as my day was over. I could see the ridge lines of the start to tomorrow's day were going to be fairly easy. I was able to communicate the route changes to Darrin via text, as it was going to take some map work to figure out the new starting point along Hwy 550.
Ahh the Sneffels Range
Looking over longingly at Chicago Peak - not today
The pointy Weminuche!
Looking back at the ridge up to "T 7" - Just take the grass detour
Down in the basin, looking at "T 8" and "T 7"
Walking down the Imogene Pass Rd went fairly quickly. There didn't look to be any more tough spots that I hadn't already dealt with on the start of the road. So anyone looking to go higher up, should have little problem if they could do the first section.
Some rough stuff on the Imogene Rd
Driving down the road, I managed to accidentally find a short cut which by-passed all the hard sections. It goes by the mining buildings that you see on the left as you approach the C - cut on the Yankee Boy basin road. It probably saved me a good hour of hard 4WD.
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