Support 14ers.com
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  Cathedral Pk A  -  13,943 feet
 Post Date:  06/16/2013 Modified: 06/21/2013
 Date Climbed:   06/16/2013
 Posted By:  Bill Stafford

 Cathedral Peak 13,943 ft   

I drove to Aspen on Friday, had dinner in town, then on to Cathedral Trailhead. Mine was the only vehicle in a lot that could probably hold 25. I spent an uncomfortable night in the back of my 4Runner, awoke at 5:15am, had a bit of granola, and was on the trail at 5:50am.

This is a beautiful, well-made trail. The scenery is spectacular! I was making fairly good time and would have made it to Cathedral Lake before 6:30am, but somehow found myself on the trail to Electric Pass - a 1/2 hour detour. I made my way down to the lake, where I had some trouble finding a creek crossing, and also in finding the old miner's trail described by Roach. Instead, I made my way up a steep hill on the NW side of the lake, and then happened to amble across the proper trail.

I reached the base of the 500-foot, snow-filled gully (and it was indeed largely filled with snow), put on my Kahtoola microspikes, pulled out my ice ax, and began the ascent. This is a very steep snow gully (45 degrees? 50 degrees at times?), with about 2" of soft snow over the top of a very hard layer. My microspikes were not up to the task - I needed crampons to keep from slipping, and had to kick, kick, kick steps. But I'd come so far, and was determined to summit.

From the 13,400-ish saddle, the hike to the summit is not-so-bad. It is relatively well cairned, but I did make a few wrong turns. Much of the route is slightly to the west of ridge-line.

The return trip down the snow-filled gully was long and laborious. The steepness required one to face the slope, and the snow hadn't softened. I held my ice ax in a self-arrest posture, across my chest, with hands at both ends, planting the pick into the hill. I would then reach down with one leg, kick my toe once or twice into the slope, slide my body down and replant the ice ax, and then reach down with the other leg and repeat. It was exhausting and frustratingly slow. The microspikes just weren't up to the task, as they often as not slipped, and the ice ax kept me from sliding. I spent more time downclimbing then the upclimb - probably 1.25 hours. Frankly, I was wholly fatigued and afraid of tumbling to my death. This is a narrow gully, with a slight curve near the bottom of it's rock-lined walls, and a couple of islands of exposed rock in the middle. Sliding down this thing was simply not an option. Lesson - do your homework when you know a "snow-filled gully" is part of your hike. And if you can't find info on what equipment might be needed, bring your damn CRAMPONS!!!

I finally reached the gully's bottom, weary, bruised... and out of water. I had summited at 11:30am, it was now 1:35 pm. Although I came across quite a few folk near Cathedral Lake, and further down, I refrained from begging for water. I hadn't been hiking for months, and my body was not conditioned for the rigors. When I finally stumbled across the finish line, thoroughly fatigued, foot-sore, knee-sore, I felt (not to a small degree) that I'd "survived" this one. That said, I loved this hike and it will rank as one of my favorites.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.