No Walk in the Park - The Mighty Meeker - South Ridge & Meeker Ridge from Wild Basin
“There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and the wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbal of the great human principle.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Sunrise along the Sandbeach Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
Mountain: Mount Meeker - Rocky Mountain National Park - Elevation 13,911 ft.
Date Climbed: May 18, 2013
Trailhead: Copeland Lake (Sandbeach Lake Trail)
Route: South Ridge (ascent) / Meeker Ridge (descent)
Distance: ~ 13 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 5,600 ft.
Participants: Andrew (awknox), Dillon (dillonsarnelli)
Time: ~ 13 hours
Gerry Roach describes the South Ridge route of Meeker as "one of Colorado's finest tours" that is seldom done due to its length. He also goes on to say that after decades of mountaineering, this mountain remains one of his favorite places. That's about all the motivation I needed and Andrew was game. This would be his first trek through the park and it didn't disappoint.
Andrew and I set out from the Copeland Lake TH at about 4 AM. The plan... Head west along the Sandbeach Lake trail to Sandbeach Lake, bushwhack north from the lake to Meeker Meadow, ascend Meeker from its south ridge to the true summit, traverse the knife edge to the lower summit, partially descend Meeker Ridge to treeline, follow Hunter's Creek back to the trail, and then head back to the Copeland Lake TH.
Approaching the 1st river crossing at Campers Creek along the Sandbeach Lake Trail
For the most part, we stuck to the plan. The snowshoes went on at the Hole in the Wall campsite, about a mile and half from the TH. We however, never made it to the lake. We had been following one set of tracks (tracks that only went in one direction) which abruptly ended about 4 miles from the TH at a rock cropping. Nestled in a tent under a large rock formation we found the human who had created our path. He too was on his way to the lake, but had lost the trail, and decided to call this spot camp. We wished him well and went on our way. From here, we decided to bypass the lake and head northwest in search of Meeker Meadow and treeline. For the rest of the journey, the only tracks to be seen would be our own.
Andrew gets a good look at the task at hand as we near Meeker Meadow
I still have no idea how to walk in my snowshoes....!
Nearing treeline and Meeker Meadow, about 4.5 miles from the TH - Dragon Egg Rock pictured upper right
From left to right: South Ridge, Meeker Summit, Knife Edge, Dragon Egg Couloir, Lower Meeker Summit, Dragon Egg Rock, Meeker Ridge
And we go up... A look back as we climb out of the trees. Sandbeach Lake can be seen in the distance.
Still going up. The snow is hard packed.
a good look at the large talus along the south ridge at about 12K.
Andrew you are a BEAST! Approaching the ridgeline...
a look back at some of the south ridge. Below this point we stayed low, to the west side of ridge proper. Keplinger Lake, upper right.
Andrew making his way along the ridge. Me trying to keep up!
Andrew is that a large gendarme in your way or are you just happy to see me?
a good look at SE Longs and Longs as we ascend the ridgeline.
Andrew finally takes a breather!
A look back at a portion of the south ridge. The large gendarme can be seen in the middle of the picture.
many many many future ROCKY summits!
The south ridge of Meeker.
A close up of the hidden east face of Pagoda... pretty awesome
L to R - Alice, Chiefs Head Peak, Pagoda
L to R - Alice, Chiefs Head, Pagoda, Keyboard of the Winds, Longs Peak
the elusive Meeker Summit
Andrew taking it all in below the summit boulder
Summit of Mount Meeker - Elevation 13,911 ft - May 18, 2013
These guys came up the Dreamweaver. The knife edge to Meeker's lower summit in the distance.
a look back at Meeker's summit from the knife edge
Andrew making his way along the knife edge.
A look back at the beasts of the park from the knife edge.
A look down at Dragon Egg Couloir and Sandbeach Lake from the knife edge.
The road home - Meeker Ridge...
We descended Meeker Ridge to a point where the angle relented enough to allow us to head for the trees. Once in the trees, we proceeded southeast back to Hunters Creek, followed the creek back to the main trail, and from the main trail proceeded back to the Copeland Lake TH.
This was a LONG day. A few lessons learned - A) Don't underestimate the Mighty Meeker! This mountain is the real deal and gives Long's a run for it's money. 5) Going downhill in snowshoes is really really hard and d) Wild Basin is still one of the best kept secrets in all of Colorado!
Andrew thanks for playing and thanks for reading all.
Off topic - Good luck to the Denali crew - Kushner, Kyle, Caroline and gang. BE SAFE!