Peak: Mount Yale
Route: East Ridge
Difficulty: Class 3 (described as Class 2 on the route description, we were off a few times )
Roundtrip: 11.5 miles or so - again, we were off quite a bit
Elevation Gain: 5,300'
On Saturday, my sister and I tackled Mt. Yale's East Ridge. The weather was beautiful, staying around 20 degrees and hardly any wind all day. However, this climb proved to be quite a challenge!
Our first discovery was that the trail from Avalanche Gulch, also the Colorado Trail, was packed down for about 2 miles. However, we abruptly came to the end of the broken snow path. So, on went the snowshoes.
Breaking trail through the trees
As a result of not following our GPS, which shows the Colorado Trail, we ended up significantly off route and spent a bunch of extra time climbing over fallen trees, crossing steep gullies and eventually reaching treeline well above the start of the East Ridge, on the wrong side of the saddle at the base of the ridge. Whoops!
Somewhat off route...
We finally crested the ridge and caught our first glimpse of Yale's East Ridge.
Descending to the saddle with Yale's East Ridge in full view
We reached the saddle and off went the snowshoes. Despite the delays and extra effort to get back on track, the weather was great and we were both having fun!
Climbing the East Ridge
Some initial scrambling on the ridge
Interesting snow ripples on the ridge crest
At about 13,200'
We crested a rugged bump and saw the final summit stretch.
At 13,400', the summit finally appears
Getting around this bump looked easy, but it was actually quite tough. The rock was steep up high and the snow was deep and difficult to navigate lower. We stayed high for the ascent - believe me, it was a lot harder than it looks!
The final 700' of the route held some of the best terrain of the day! The first obstacle was a section of snow that looked straightforward but was actually quite steep. Slick rocks under the soft, deep snow made it more difficult as well.
Doesn't look too bad...
Yes, it is steeper than it looks!
We got over this steep section and were rewarded with a much closer view of the final challenges:
Above the steep snow, looking up at the next stretch
Final summit ridge
Finally, at about 2:00 pm, we reached the hard-earned summit of Mt. Yale! We didn't stay for long, however, as we only had a few hours until darkness.
Last sunlight on Harvard and Columbia
Fiery sunset on the east skyline
The last 3 miles were spent in the dark, using the GPS to find the Colorado Trail so we wouldn't get off track again. However, snowshoeing through a calm, cool night with fresh, sparkling snow reflecting headlamp light proved to be a fantastic way to end our day. Thanks for reading!