Mount Irving Hale 11,754 ft / Rank 1,437
Cooper Peak 12,296 ft / Rank 1,150
Marten Peak 12,041 ft / Rank 1,287
“Martenette” 11,361 ft / Rank 1,621
Hiamovi Tower 12,220 ft / Rank 1,189
Hiamovi Mountain 12,395 ft / Rank 1,074
Friday June 28th:
Colin Osborne and I set off from the Roaring Fork TH around 5 and made our way up to the Irving Hale saddle. I took a quick side trip to tag Irving Hale and enjoyed the views as sunset out to the west over Lake Granby. This would be Colin’s second backpacking trip and so far he’s’ only visited the Gores and the west side of the IPW. That’s not a bad resume’ so far. Back at the saddle, the light off of the Apache massif highlighted the Mohling and Kasperov traverses but we were in a hurry to set up camp while we still had some daylight.
Irving Hale from the saddle
Lake Granby from Irving Hale
Apache as the sun sets. Lone Eagle pops in foreground.
The trail down to Stone Lake from the pass isn’t in nearly as good of condition as the rest of the IPW network, but we found our way easily enough. Brian and Mike were supposed to come up in the middle of the night so we were concerned with their ability to navigate the trail in the dark however. We made it to the tarn short of the lake and set up camp at a nice outcropping on the south side of the tarn around 9:00. As dark was setting in, we put up some glowsticks from the trail leading to camp to guide our friends. Dinner was a Jimmy Johns sub for me, Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for my cousin and of course the requisite sleeve of Pringles.
Saturday June 29th:
Colin and I awoke to a still empty campsite so we set off by ourselves for Cooper’s North Ridge. We must have spent a half an hour or more taking pictures around Stone and the Upper Lake. The slope ascending to the Ooh La La saddle was pretty easy going with mostly grass and just having some scree for the last little bit. The ridge itself is mostly class 2 with some 3 mixed in here and there. There was some snow which complicated some parts but it went smoothly enough.
Irving Hale from Stone Lake
Marten from Stone Lake
Cooper from Upper Lake - ascent route is seen beyond trees.
Hiamovi Tower from Upper Lake
Colin O. on ascent towards Cooper's North Ridge
Continental Divide from Cooper
The walk over to Marten went smoothly enough but clouds were starting to build and Colin wanted to save his legs for Sunday so he descended from the saddle and I pressed on. The last little scramble for Marten was very fun and definitely class 3. The descent off of the other side holds a slight surprise requiring a class 3 scramble over the false summit, bypassing a tower separating the two – but Roach does mention it in his description. Once over the false, the walk over to Martenette goes very easily.
Neat Rock Formation
I thought the return trip to camp was going to be borderline nightmarish, but I stayed relatively high from the saddle and picked my way through the trees. The hardest part was avoiding some lingering snowfields. Once I hit the gully with the runoff from Cooper, I descended the steep steps before navigating around the bench to the east of our campsite.
In order to get back to the camp; however, I needed to cross the creek which wasn’t going to be easy. I generally try and end my day with a swim so I killed two birds with one stone and just walked my gear across before plunging into the waist deep water.
Brian and Mike had shown up while we were on the mountains and we learned of their route finding snafu in the middle of the night. They missed the turnoff and spent the night at Watanga Lake. Apparently it was so dark that Brian literally walked right into the lake. Missing the turnoff is easily defensible since we saw on the hike out that the sign is tucked back a bit and a small pine tree is growing in the middle of the trail. The Watanga trail goes straight ahead and it was easily missed in the dark of night. Kimo and Anna showed up a little later after hitting Irving Hale during their approach and Colin (astrobassman) was the last to show up after packing over Hiamovi (almost losing his tent on the Class 3 descent).
We broke out the brats and habenero mustard of an early dinner but we were interrupted by a fairly stiff hail storm. Most of us cowered in our tents while astrobassman decided he was too ripe for his bag so he waited it out under a small tree. I’m surprised he didn’t need a helmet.
Hail Storm Aftermath (photo by Mike)
Sunday June 30th:
The next morning Brian, Mike, and I set off for the SW Buttress Route on Hiamovi Tower while Colin Osborne, Kimo, and Anna took the south face route on Hiamovi. Astrobassman had Cooper/Marten in mind for the day.
Roach does an excellent job in detailing the route on the Tower. We skipped the first two pitches utilizing a grass ramp that ascends from the upper lake (this one seemed easier than the one Roach describes). So we climbed pitch 3, 4, took the exposed class 3 bypass on 5, climbed 6 and 7, then worked our way around to the standard route to bypass the last pitch. I don’t know the first thing about technical climbing so I’ll include Mike’s description:
“Our climb went pretty well, we went around the north of the lower buttress and pitch 3 was our first pitch. It wasn't bad with rock shoes, but the middle section was steep and slabby and tricky for Scot with his hiking boots. Roach calls it 5.2, but it felt harder. The next pitch was mostly class 4 with a short low 5 chimney to a very generous ledge where we took a nice snack break. We skipped pitch 5 and took Roach's variation across an exposed class 3 ledge to a nice class 4 slab on the back side (requiring a cave crawl). Brian then led pitch 6 up a crack to a big alcove, and then he led pitch 7 to the top of the second buttress. At this point we decided to skip the 3rd buttress (5.4) and wrap around to the standard class 3 route to finish. Topped out around 11? Then begged the weather to hold while we made hay over to Hiamovi as quick as we could on the tricky terrain.”
I’ve only done a couple of class 5 routes and all I know is that this was much harder than what we did on Jagged the year before and a lot more intense than the Petingell-Citadel traverse which are supposed to both be rated 5.4. Brian and Mike did an excellent job of helping me out as shouts of “1, 2, 3, PULL!!!” echoed through the basin. I need some rock shoes, maybe a day or two in a rock gym and, by the look of Mike and Brian’s pictures, some bigger shorts.
Brian scouts the wall at the base of the Tower climb
Marten from the base of our climb
Mike leads pitch 3 (our pitch 1)
Mike nearing top of pitch 3 (our pitch 1)
Brian climbing pitch 3 (our pitch 1)
Mike demonstrates the cave crawl on class 3 bypass
Me ascending the exposed class 3 bypass (photo by Mike)
Brian finishing the class 3 bypass
Brian leading pitch 6 (our pitch 4)
Mike climbing pitch 6 (our pitch 4)
Me on traverse to standard finish (photo by Brian)
Brian descending the standard route on the Tower
From the Tower, we descended back to the saddle and made haste up Hiamovi since weather was moving in quickly. Hiamovi was little more than a walk over for us as there was a cloud following closely coming over from the divide. We swung wide around to the south side of the mountain and negotiated some grassy slopes until we intersected the creek running out of the high lake at Hiamovi’s base. The storm seemed to just barely graze us as we had little more than some sprinkles. The creek is a wonderful cascade all the way to the basin floor and the vegetation was lush and beautiful.
Brian descending by cascades
Nice way to end a climb
Once back at camp, we all made haste packing up belongings and starting the arduous grunt back to the Irving Hale saddle. Another system or two was coming into the area and hit us just as we hit the saddle. A few boomers hit while we were in the open area which definitely got our attention and he had a steady diet of sleet and hail for most of the pack out.
Brian has been a skeptic of the Wapiti Grill in Estes so I needed to give him an introduction. I wanted nothing to do with the tunnel expansion traffic in Idaho Springs so we took Trail Ridge home. After navigating the gaper gathering in the park, my heart sank as the line of people for Wapiti was out the door. But, someone was looking out for us as there were 5 seats at the bar beckoning. We started off with Colorado Nachos (homemade potato chips, pulled pork, and all the fixins) and then moved on to the burgers of our choosing. My cousin did me proud by combining the two in true Osborne fashion.
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