| A Beating on the Anvil: Red Mtn Pass Series
*First Edition to the Red Mountain Pass Series
*Red Mountain Pass Series
This edition is the first in a series of trips taken over a period of two weeks. The idea of linking my three reports of three different mountains came only recently. The three peaks that we hiked are all along the Hwy 550/Million Dollar Highway/Red Mtn Pass area, and they're a reasonable bunch to do in winter when other peaks may have access issues or avalanche concerns. I hope I have provided enough information and inspiration for others to check them out.
Thank you, and I hope you'll enjoy these reports!
2nd Edition, McMillion Dollar Views
3rd Edition, Duco
December 15, 2013
Hikers: Terri Horvath & Darin Baker
Anvil Mountain (12,537’)
San Juan Range
Red Mountain Pass/Silverton area
Views to the N/NE; Red Mountain Pass area
Trailhead: Winter-time parking at junction of Ophir Pass Road & Hwy 550; hike starts on opposite side of parking area (i.e., E side of 550)
Route: NW ridge (see map at end of report)
Distance: ~2.5mi’s RT (miles/round trip)
Elevation Gain: ~2400’
Time to Complete: ~6+hrs RT; ascent = 4+ hrs, descent = you do the math
Difficulty: Class 2; steep heavily treed ridge with trail breaking in snow; start of hike is parallel (to the S) of a gully/potential avalanche run-out area; coincidentally there was a reported large avalanche the same day as our hike but in a different slide path than the one at the start of our approach
Hiking up treed ridge
Gear: daypack w/Essentials; additional seasonal/winter conditions gear (e.g., avi-gear, snowshoes, goggles, thermos, etc.)
Resources Used For Trip Planning: summitpost.org (sp)has a page for Anvil that led me to this route which was a big help; NOAA weather forecast; CAIC avalanche conditions/forecast; Nat-Geo/Trails Illustrated Map #141
Have you ever felt like you had gotten a severe beating from hiking a mountain? Pounded like steel on an anvil? With the lack of high alpine hiking from my life in recent months, a beating is pretty much what I was feeling when we hiked Anvil. Lungs – heart – legs – all of it was getting worked over in the ring. If it wasn’t for Terri breaking 99% of the trench, I would not have made it. She is the winner in this bout!
The last alpine hike I did in CO, the ground was clear of snow! With the somewhat frequent snow storms CO has received this late fall there’s a fair bit of snow to contend with, and which you may surmise, it isn’t always easy to trudge through. Pile those conditions on top of my physical condition from being near sea level for most of this year and not hiking much, I was in for a much needed workout!
We got to the parking area at about 8:30am. The winds were whipping and my tail was already tucked. It looked to be a challenge in the alpine! Snow blowing off from the leeward side of Anvil was going over the top of our ridge route above treeline. Terri gave a hopeful suggestion that maybe they would subside by the time we reached the alpine. Thankfully as it turned out, she was right!
Terri and I got our packs on, strapped shoes on our feet, and started our trudge up the mountain. We did our best to stay off of the skin track (for those that detest us snowshoers stepping in your track!) and plodded along. We essentially paralleled the skin track as it meandered to the ridge. This local popular winter route sees plenty of traffic as was suggested on sp.
Snow conditions were not horrible, but then again Terri was doing all the trench work! I was still punching through deeper at times, in part because I didn’t have the tails on my snowshoes. Those might have helped.
An occasional window on the route
Peaks above S Mineral Creek (not sure which peaks these two are though)
After several hours of snowshoeing up through the steep timber, we finally came upon this view
I was already geared up for wind when we hit treeline because this flatlander nomad is not used to Mother Nature’s wrath in the mountains! Terri on the other hand was working hard throughout the morning as she forged our way up the ridge, so she needed a stop for a wind layer. Oh, a break?! I’ll gladly take another!
Once out of the trees and on wind hardened snow, I was able to get into a better rhythm and move a little more efficiently.
Not to say I didn’t have to take a knee from time to time
(Photo by Terri)
Terri working her way up the ridge with Ophir Pass Road visible down below
1:10pm and we’re finally approaching the summit!
Terri scoping out ridges above Silverton for other winter possibilities
Peaks along the Grenadier spine
Peaks in the Needle district
Ice Lake group
Mislabeled: “V2” is actually “V5”
For views like this, I’ll gladly accept the beating to get here
The descent went smooth, as we continued to admire the San Juan beauty
(Photo by Terri)
Back on our track in the trees, we made good progress going back to the car. Great day out, and I’m glad Terri pushed the trench and got us out of the trees in the morning.
Thanks for reading,
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):