| Ohio City, 13ers.
May 18, 2013
~ 14.9 Miles, ~5,800 Gain
TH: Gold Creek Campground 2WD (~4 hours from Denver)
As the heat in Utah rises, it is time to return to the alpine. E-mailing with Al, we decided to clean up some 13ers near Pitkin. Al met me in Buena Vista Friday afternoon where we then carpooled to the Gold Creek Campground. The campground was empty and we were able to set up camp before nightfall.
Setting our alarms somewhat early, at 4:30 AM, we started hiking up the Mill Lake trail at 5:30 AM. Within a quarter of a mile of hiking, we had to don our snowshoes at ~10,200. Some poor hiker had experienced some horrible post-holing within the prior days. I bet they wished they had snowshoes in the afternoon. As the Mill Lake trail turned west, we figured out that we were not on the correct trail.
Our original intent was to start hiking up Lamphier Lake trail which I thought was the same trail as Mill Lake and that the trail just branched. After further review, the two trails have separate trailheads. The trailhead for Lamphier Creek/Lake is on the north side of Lamphier Creek.
Already breaking trail, we corrected our course for the Lamphier Creek. Between 10,400-10,800 the snow was unconsolidated slush and trail-breaking was exhausting work. Above ~10,900, the snow was more frozen and more consolidated. Frustrated with the amount of work involved, we eventually reached Lamphier Lake.
Al enjoying good snow.
From Lamphier Lake, we climbed up the north slopes between Fossil Mountain and Point 12,444. With solid snow, we made good progress up to the saddle. Calf muscles burning, we reached the saddle and headed west up gentle slopes to the summit of Fossil Mountain where we arrived at 8:30 AM. For the first time, we were able to get a view of our main objective, Henry Mountain.
Climbing beyond Lamphier Lake.
Al working his way towards Fossil Ridge.
Steep snow to the saddle east of Fossil Ridge.
Al on the east ridge of Fossil Ridge.
Al on the east ridge of Fossil Ridge.
Henry from Fossil Ridge.
Without much of a break, we hiked north towards Square Top Mountain on class 2 terrain. Skirting the summit block of Square Top Mountain to the west, we intercepted the northwest ridge of Square Top Mountain and hiked to the Square Top-Henry saddle. Class 2 terrain up Henry's southeast ridge led us to the summit where we arrived at 9:45 AM.
Bypassing Square Top on the west. (Photo by Al)
Looking at the southeast ridge of Henry.
Al smoking me to the summit of Henry.
Clear skies with good views. After a short break, we returned to the Henry-Square Top saddle and climbed up the northwest ridge to the summit of Square Top. Albeit unranked but named, we decided to bag the summit of Square Top since the detour was short on our way to Broncho.
Broncho from the summit of Square Top.
The northeast ridge of Square Top leading to the Gunsight Pass looked interesting from our vantage point. In the interest of saving some time, we glissaded down the south side of the ridge and hiked northwest towards Gunsight Pass. The snow was starting to soften up and travel was slower than we expected. The ridge proper would go without much of a hitch with some possible minor class 3 scrambling.
Interesting ridge between Broncho and Square Top.
Reaching Gunsight Pass, we started up the talus class 2 west slopes of Broncho. This next section of mountaineering literary smut is dedicated to Ryan. For everyone else that wants to be spared, I suggest skipping the next three paragraphs. (most will not get the inside joke)
Below Gunsight pass.
Glancing at the GPS, it's only 0.55 miles as the crow flies to the summit from the Square Top-Broncho saddle. A gentle 600 gain romp will lead us to the summit. Al laughs. Upward we go. At 0.5 miles, now we're making progress. Breathing deeply, step after step, we gain some ground. Another read of the GPS; only 0.48 miles. The trance sets in. More steps upward.
Al on Broncho's west ridge.
The ridge crests and we have to be close. The GPS reads 0.34 miles. Dazed, I don't bother reading the elevation. I reach a clearing and now I can see the summit. What? 0.21 miles? Luckily it's less than 100 gain. The summit feels so close but yet so far away. Al does an excellent job of keeping up. Toward the summit we stampede. 0.18 Miles. 0.12 Miles. 515 feet. Now we're getting close.
365 feet. 150 feet. Ah, the summit boulder can be seen. 45 feet. We arrived at the summit of Broncho at 11:50 AM. End of the smut.
Gentle terrain between Broncho and Point 12,446 was observed. A snowy class 2 north ridge of Broncho led to the saddle. Hiking through a short snowy section ascending Point 12,446 proved to be some of the most intense effort of the day with unconsolidated chest deep slush. Although only 200 feet of snow needed to be crossed, it took us 15 minutes to swim, breathe and battle our way through the snow. Holy F*$#, that is why I don't like spring.
Broncho's north ridge.
Talus was welcomed and we found joy on hiking up the snow free south ridge of Point 12,445 where we arrived on the summit at 1:00 PM. The weather was holding perfectly and Fairview seemed tantalizingly close. If summer conditions persisted, we would have been enticed to continue our loop to Fairview. Adding Point 12,472 would be enough work in these undesirable spring conditions.
No snow on Point 12,466's south ridge.
Fairview from the summit of Point 12,446.
Descending the bowl south of 12,446.
Easy terrain between 12,446 and 12,472 made travel enjoyable and quick. We arrived on the summit of Point 12,472 at 1:40 PM and took a longer break. Unfortunately, we decided we had to reascend Point 12,446 due to a continuous dangerous cornice along the ridge between Point 12,472 and Point 12,446. The only way to bypass the cornice was to ascend Point 12,446 and descend 12,446's south ridge to mellow safe slopes. The snow was way too slushy to be descending on steep terrain or across cornices.
Not excited, we made our way back to the Broncho-12,446 saddle. From the saddle, we headed east down into the trees. The snow was somewhat consolidated but was still plenty of work. Camp was too far for comfort with the slushy snow. Battling slush we made our way to the Gold Greek Trail. The lower we descend the slushier and more work the snow became.
As we descended through ~10,400 on the Gold Creek Trail, we finally got somewhat of a break from the snow. Now the snow was only knee deep instead of chest deep snow. We reached the snow covered road at ~10,300 and we were still 1.5 miles from camp. Al remarks, “Well, that just jumped to the top 3 trips with Derek and if I don't get back to camp soon, it might jump to number 1.”
Snowshoes came off at the road and we enjoyed some fine post-holing sections as we worked our final mile back to camp. We arrived back at camp at 5:00 PM. That was one tough 15 miles hike. Plenty of bang for the buck.
May 19, 2013
~8.8 Miles, ~3400 Gain
TH: Gold Creek Campground 2WD (~4 hours from Denver)
Fortunately the temperature drops as Al and I hope for frozen snow. We wake up at 5:00 AM and start hiking up the road along Gold Creek at 5:40 AM. A snow drift within a short distance of camp prevents us from driving further up the road. After ~0.7 miles of hiking up the road, we head up New Dollar Gulch. Since we are trailhead breaking through snow already, we decided to cut through the trees to save us some effort.
Plenty of snow at 10,700 on Fairview.
As we ascend up New Dollar Gulch, we are pleasantly astonished at how well the snow is holding up. Deep snow at ~10,700 but we don't sink and we just step over the gate at the end of the road. More solid snow leads us upward. At ~11,100, we leave New Dollar Gulch and climb north up steep grassy slopes. We ditch the snowshoes and make steep progress upwards.
We climb directly north to the summit of Terrible Mountain. Marginal weather looms and we are glad we finished our longer day yesterday. Travel is class 1 from Terrible Mountain to the Terrible-Fairview saddle. Snow on the south slopes of Fairview makes travel a little slower but we made good progress up the gentle slopes the summit of Fairview where we arrive at 9:00 AM. The amount of effort to gain Fairview was significantly less than any peak the prior day. It's amazing how snow can vary day to day. A nice gift.
Al on the south slopes of Terrible Mountain.
Getting above the clouds.
South slopes of Terrible Mountain.
View of Fairview from Terrible Mountain.
Saddle between Terrible and Fairview.
Al on the south slopes of Fairview.
Summit ridge on Fairview. (Photo by Al)
Al and I are both surprised on the stone structure on the summit of Fairview. We take a break out of the wind before we start down. Our descent goes much quicker back to New Dollar Gulch and the snow remained consolidated. Arriving at camp at 11:00 AM. We are delighted with our half day 13er.
Structure on Fairview.
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