James Peak with a side trip to Kingston Peak (12,147 ft)
TH: St. Mary's Glacier
RT Distance: 8.43 mi (according to the GPS)
I wasn't going to write a report for James Peak, but the photo opps were just too good not to share. Unfortunately, we didn't have the good camera (battery wasn't charged) so the photos are not the best quality.
The weather forecast looked iffy, so we got an early(ish) start at the trailhead of 7:40am (Otina: you were right about the ski traffic--I-70 was not pretty after 6am). With my recent focus on weekday 13er hiking, it was strange to see other people gearing up at the trailhead. Although there was a large group ahead of us, there was still plenty of parking at the upper pay lot.
When we started out, the skies were clear. First views of the glacier:
Is there really a glacier?
I stopped to put on my microspikes prior to heading up the glacier, while Ben was happy with just his plastic Koflach boots (still don't know how he hikes so well in those). It was on the breezy side but manageable.
This was our first visit to the area, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Thanks to recent posts (thanks for the great pictures TeamDino5280!), I kept my eye on the slopes next to the glacier. When we got to the top of the glacier, we got our first views of James Peak:
Peak is there somewhere...
Well, this could be an interesting day! Can't wait to get into that cloud!
I think I see the peak!
I always like viewing familiar peaks from different angles:
Just a glimpse of Grays and Torreys
As we headed up the relatively flat section, we watched the party in front of us head up the slope. Even though it was breezy, we decided to take the ridge.
Conditions seem to be deteriorating
A look down the lower part of the ridge
Just as I was starting to think it was fairly breezy for a "breezy" forecast (felt more like "blustery" to me--I know, I know, I'm becoming a weather geek), the winds died down. The ridge was a bit tedious, but we made steady progress:
Leo was loving the snow!
With the clouds moving in, I was quite happy to get some views from the summit:
Indian Peaks, with Longs (barely visible) in the background
On the way down, we stuck to the face, and it was much quicker. I really liked the cairns in their winter garb:
On the way down, we were able to get a better view of Bancroft and James Peak:
Since the weather seemed to be holding, we decided to head over to Kingston Peak (12,147 ft):
Sure, it's unranked, but why not extend the day when you're having fun? I had to make a side trip along the way:
I actually liked the willows on this trip:
I was starting to feel the blisters developing from my new boots when we reached Kingston:
Flurries were starting as we headed back down the glacier to the car:
Several people were out on the ice.
We got back to the car a little before 2:30pm and found the upper lot to be quite full (I was very glad no one had parked behind us!). Great day on a fun peak! Next time, I plan to charge the camera battery before the trip...