| El Diente from Navajo Lake
After a weather check it seemed El Diente was most likely to get a cold night for good snow, and I had been told to do this mountain with snow since it just "might" have some loose rock here and there. MaxHiker and his dad (me) arrived about 5pm (Honda CRV, easy road) on the 31st at the Navajo Lakes Trailhead and cruised in to the lake. Ok, grunted and huffed. It was the first 14er of the season and we overpacked. Where did all the gear go over the winter? We were the only car at the trailhead and then later, the only tent. 2 hrs and 20 minutes later we were there. There were still a few drifts here and there and the lower sites were pretty wet. Upper was dry. We camped just above the lower end of Navajo Lake, and there were a couple good sites just north of the uphill end of the lake, as well. Ate our Subway half (save the other half for lunch tomorrow) and slept.
About 4:30am We were up and getting ready and had cleared the lake by 5am.
I can't recall now how long it took to get to the couloir but maybe about 7am we were in crampons.
Hit the headwall and it got steeper
Made the ridge top by 9am. Perfect snow to climb. The south side was softer but still great as we followed the route down then back up to the ridge. We opted to just follow the ridge to the summit since the north side snow near the summit didn't feel good and was steeper. The ridge was fun anyway, and we leapfrogged along with a short rope between us.
The return was uneventful, but slower with periodic belays. we were back at the top of our couloir and had decided not to try the traverse as it was late, and we were hungry, hot and tired. Three hours at 14k had us feeling ready to glissade.
Three guys had just come up and said the conditions were great. We down climbed the upper section, then belayed each other for a few short glissades to make sure it was good. It was perfect (you couldn't quite get fast even if you wanted). Snow was still great and soon we were laughing at the bottom of the valley. Good Dad and son bonding time!
We fully expected the marmots to have eaten our tent and campsite, but found it all good. Loaded up and walked out. There are false summits on the way up some mountains and false meadows on the way out of some, aren't there? Looking back the trail we saw how far we had come.
About 24 hours after hitting the lot ours was still the only car there, and we loaded up and went to Telluride for dinner and some cool Hot air balloon fire shooting thing in main street. Watched a little, then went to Ouray for the night. Funny how Ouray is about one mountain over but an hour drive around. With a 12 year old it is all about the swimming pool, so the hot springs called us. We visited Box Canyon falls (very cool) and then made our way home. Of course, we will be back to visit Wilson and Wilson (whenever we say "Wilson" we scream it like Tom Hanks did in Castaway)..."Willllsonnnnn!")
Anyway it promises to be a fun summer with a planned August Pikes Peak finisher so grandparents and school friends can meet us on the summit.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):