| Mt. Antero: West Slope via Baldwin Gulch
Peak: Mt. Antero (via Baldwin Gulch)
Date Climbed: May 11, 2007
Group: Stu, Brad, and Myself
Stu, Brad, and Myself left Boulder around 1am after preparing for just about any snow condition. In truth we had no idea what to expect as we had heard the Antero area had received a lot of snow in the previous week. We elected to take crampons and axes as well as snowshoes and poles just in case. We were able to drive up the Baldwin Gulch jeep trail about 500 yards before having to park due to a large snowdrift blocking the road.
From left to right: Stu, Myself, and Brad on the road
As it turns out had we been able to drive past the single snowdrift which blocked us we could have made it almost all the way to the base of Antero but that's the way it goes sometimes. We left the car at 5:45am and had a nice hike up the road to the base of the couloir which leads up the west slope of Pt. 13,800'.
Gearing up at the base of the couloir
We strapped on our crampons and began the ascent up the couloir. This is the same couloir which the Baldwin jeep road snakes up gradually, we were able to just head straight up, bypassing all of the switchbacks. In the summer this would be harder to do.
Brad and I working up the couloir
We hiked our way up to around 12,500ft. and got our first look at Mt. Antero. We considered just heading straight for it but decided to try and stick to the trail instead (as well as we could). At this point we traversed across a steep slope, crampons were absolutely necessary here, the snow was hard-packed and slick with large open slopes and rock bands below us, a fall without an axe from this point would not be good.
Traversing across to another couloir
What we ended up doing was hiking up the first couloir, traversing South about 1/4 of a mile over to another couloir, and ascending directly up it from the road to Pt. 13,800'.
Approaching the bottom of the second couloir
Ascending the second couloir simply bypassed the final large switchback that the road takes to the south, this switchback can be seen on the 14ers.com map. This would also be difficult in the summer as the slope in the couloir was around 45 degrees in some places.
Ascending the second couloir near Pt. 13,800'
We reached the top of the couloir and Pt. 13,800' around noon and realized we had quite a long way to go still. The weather was suprisingly hot, around 50 degrees even at that altitude and the snow was becoming soft. We took a 20 minute break here and downed a few packs of those energy blocks from REI.
Mt. Antero from Pt. 13,800'
We traversed across the connecting ridge between Antero and Pt. 13,800' in about 40 minutes. Covered in snow, the ridge was not the easiest task of the day. We began the final ascent of Antero around 12:40pm and reached the summit around 1:10pm.
Brad and I working across the ridge
Taking a break on the summit
The day was literally perfect: 50+ degrees on the summit and no wind, hardly any clouds. Because of the great weather and minimal time commitments, we decided to enjoy the summit, something I have rarely been able to do since I began hiking 14ers. We stayed on top of Antero for about an hour and a half eating, enjoying the views, and sleeping. Mt. Princeton and its Chalk Cliffs could be seen to the North as well as many Sawatch 14ers beyond.
Mt. Princeton to the North, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia behind it
Summit pic (Facing South)
We began the descent around 2:15pm and made it to the road within the hour, glissading most of the way down the two couloirs. In these two couloirs we lost a bottle of sunscreen and a camera battery, both of which were white. After looking around for them for a small amount of time they were deemed lost forever.
One last look at Antero from Pt. 13,800'
Once on the road we thought we had the whole hike in the bag. Unfortunately often times the point when you believe nature is letting you out is just when she decides to hit you. On the way up the road we hiked over a mile long snowfield which was as hard as concrete in the cold of morning. Not having thought twice about it, we were unpleasently suprised on the way out because we had to work through the same snowfield which had since melted into slush. This made for an excellent snow consistency to posthole through, and it was posthole city for a mile, there was no getting around it. Even with our snowshoes on we postholed every 10 feet. It was a miserable mile and it added a ton of unexpected time and effort to the end of the trip.
Stu postholing with Brad struggling in the background
After pushing through we found ourselves on solid dirt and from there we were home free. We made it back to the car around 6pm for a total trip time of roughly 13 hours. What a fun hike.
Back at the car
Here is the route, the first couloir cuts hikers left out of Baldwin Gulch and bypasses the road switchbacks. From the top of this couloir we traversed south and cut hikers left again up the second couloir to Pt. 13,800'. This route is great provided that there is snow in the couloirs. When the snow melts it seems like it would be difficult to take the shortcuts we did.
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