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 Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
 Post Date:  06/27/2006
 Date Climbed:   06/25/2006
 Posted By:  aubrey

 Princeton - from the radio towers   

Drove up the easy 4WD road (absolutely no sweat in a stock Xterra, but the road wasn't very conducive for two-way traffic) and found a great parking spot just past the radio towers. We started hiking up the road at 6 a.m. under uncommonly cloudy skies. Having climbed Antero the day before, the legs took a few extra minutes to loosen up. My wife and my brother joined me (this was my brother's first fourteener attempt).

Here's a pic, taken from the road, looking down toward the radio towers ...

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After hiking up the road for a half hour or so, we spotted the trail up to the right. I think it would be difficult to miss, as there's a big cairn there now. And, I suppose, if you don't care about the "3k rule," you could drive up to this trailhead and park across the road. There would be room for at least two vehicles, I believe. Just don't park too close to the edge or you'll be doing some rolling.

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Hiked up and over the grassy knoll to the rocky, talus slope. The trail along the slope was easy to follow and easy to walk on.

An up-sloping breeze lifted and pushed the mist around, creating an incredible ambience. One minute we were hiking through a cloud ... and the next minute we broke through the fog and saw the summit for the first time -- clear as crystal.

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Eventually we made it to a point where some rocks have been placed in the path to keep you from walking on toward the mine. At this point we hiked up a trail to the left, toward the saddle/ridge. It was a little steep and slippery in some sections, but otherwise pretty good.

Once on the saddle/ridge, we were afforded an awesome view of Antero, which was marooned by a sea of clouds trapped in the valley below. Tremendously scenic. Here's a photo of Mt. Antero, viewed from Mt. Princeton's ridge ...

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The ridge hike wasn't the most pleasant thing. From the saddle, the ridge became increasingly more difficult and less defined. Some sections were steep and slippery, and some of the talus was loose. (As always, the trail was more difficult to follow on the way up, just because of your perspective and vantage point.) Adding to that pleasure were swarms of annoying gnats. They were covering all of us from head to toe. When I tried to flick them off they would just get caught in my arm/leg hairs, and when I tried to brush them off they would just smear. Every few minutes my tongue would discover something nut-like (made sense 'cause I just ate a Snickers), but they weren't bits of nuts. I must've eaten at least five or six of the little bastards … and pulled another five or so out of my mouth, before swallowing. They were really pissing me off. I was glad to see so many fat-butted spiders feasting on them. Speaking of which, I almost walked into more than a few spider webs on the talus. Can't say I recall seeing so many spiders (and spider webs) up on a fourteener. They were everywhere.

Made it up to the summit at about 9 a.m. and said hello to three groups of two. As always, there were some very friendly people up there. Great views to the north. Here's a pic of the ridge, viewed from the summit ...

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After congratulating my brother on his first fourteener, we slipped back down the ridge, literally. About the time we got back to the trail on the ledge, the fog in the valley began to lift and we could finally see the valley floor below. Made it back to the truck at 11:20 a.m.

Less than an hour later we were sitting outside at K's in Buena Vista and munching on cheeseburgers. The dark clouds smothering Princeton didn't look so friendly, and lightning was flickering all around, north and south of us.



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