| Mt Princeton Redux - We Win!
My returned to Mt Princeton on Friday, 15 Jun, was not as 'electrifying' as my previous attempt (see report from 20 May), but with the great weather I decided I needed to knock this one out once and for all.
Two different climbing partners--one climbing his first 14er--joined me for the day. Both are in great shape, >15 years younger than me and ready to climb.
We left Colorado Springs at 0440 and, after the obligatory stop for fritters at the Woodland Park Donut Mill, headed West on Hwy 24. The road to the Radio Towers was clear and firm, easily passable by my 4WD F150. We parked near the 11kft mark just above the radio towers just before 0700 and already two cars and a tent were there.
We started the hike at 0708 with some thin, hazy, high clouds, temps probably in the low 50s, and very little wind--almost a perfect day.
The switchbacks were completely clear of snow, unlike three weeks earlier when we needed to stay on the downhill edges. We could tell also that the climb would be very different from the last attempt since the mountain itself was clear of all snow except for a couple of patches and the narrowest couloirs.
Along the way to the classic route turnoff, we passed a group of about 7 people with 4 large dogs heading up the trail, all from Boulder. At about 0730, we arrived at the turnoff and started in earnest towards the peak.
We still did not have a cloud in the sky and the trail was clear. As any who have climbed this route know, Princeton is really just a big boulder field with 90% of the route rock-hopping. That was no different on Friday, and I think we only hit short snowy patches twice along the long traverse that followed.
This next shot is looking back towards the Tigger ridge to see the trail below us on our ascent. Still no clouds and only an occasional North breeze sweeping across the face of the mountain. This was a high SPF day, no doubt about it.
The long traverse seems to peter our or diffuse into a bunch of paths that turn left and go up to the ridge connecting Tigger and Princeton. We scrambled our way up this steep area--some rocks, some dirt--and made it to the ridgeline. From their, I took this next shot of Mt Antero to the south, again with much less snow than 20 May's comparable photo.
This next photo shows the ridgeline path towards the summit, and again emphasizes the clear weather.
As we neared the summit, the view towards the West and the cliffs and couloirs on the Southwest quandrant of Princeton were beautiful.
We achieved the summit at 1003 (2:55 ascent) and found a group of four already there--we'd watched them climb before us during the last hour. We were joined about 10 minutes later by a father-and-son team, and then by a single climber about 15 minutes after that. The views of Yale/Columbia/Hah-vud/etc to the North were great!
Two of us enjoyed a celbratory adult beverage (one Fat Tire and one Laughing Lab), but found that the beers weren't as cool as expected because of the warm weather.
Just as we left, a few fair weather cumulus clouds began to appear in the distance, but the weather stayed great. We started down the mountain at 1048, crossing paths with the large group we'd encountered earlier in the day at probably the 13.7kft point. After dropping down from the ridge, we began the long traverse again in descent. I must say, Princeton is not my favorite climb, the rock-hopping gets old and on the descent, it's hard to really enjoy the scenery. First, there's not much of it--you're in the "bowl" of Princeton and can't see much once you drop below the ridgeline. Next, you're so concentrating on stepping properly on the next rock, you're head's down the whole time. I find the long traverse just mind-numbing. As we rounded the corner of the traverse, though, we did manage to see a little wildlife as a few marmots were sunning themselves. The following photo shows one surveying his or her domain.
The rest of the descent was uneventful and we made it down in 1:55, completing the round-trip in just over 5:30. Again, I'm glad I had a chance to return to Princeton after the ill-fated attempt of 20 May, but it's not high on my list for a repeat either.
One last, somewhat controversial editorial note that I'm sure will get me flamed by some... As we started our climb and passed the large group, I mentioned to them that Princeton was a big boulder pile and that off the main road it would be tough going to dogs because of that--lots of opportunities to pinch paws, tough scrambles, etc. They thanked me, said they would be careful and we moved on. (Note: I'm not a dog-hater by any means -- see avatar -- and left my lab at home precisely for the reason noted above.) As we crossed paths with the same group on our descent, one of their dogs was lying in a snow patch licking his paws, and while the others looked to be in good shape, I've got to think the rest of the climb, and especially the descent was a happy dog experience. I sincerely hope they all made it off the mountain in good shape, but I would NOT recommend Mt Princeton for dog-climbers despite what some others report.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):