| Sange Bender
Saturday June 30, 2007
Mt Lindsey 14,042'
"Northwest Lindsey" 14,020'
"Huerfano Peak" 13,828
Iron Nipple 13,500
NW Ridge (Lindsey)/South Slopes (Huerfano)
9 1/2 Miles RT
appx 4,450' vertical
via Lily Lake Trailhead
After the long drive in on Friday night I just slept in the back of the truck at the trailhead. Left the trailhead at about 6am and quickly was enjoying the view of Blanca in the morning light from the meadow:
The trail then tucked back into the trees and along the Huerfano River where several cross streams flooded over the trail. The trickiest crossing would be the Huerfano itself, just after the split to Lily Lake. There are some logs that work just to the right of the trail, but they don't quite go all the way across and I had to jump the last part. After this the trail steepened and became quite a work out. After about an hour of climbing it started to relent and I took a nice break near treeline at 12,000' with great views of the surrounding area
The trail descended slightly into a large basin where the view of the remaining route started to emerge. There were a few small patches of snow, but overall the route has melted out. The trail steepened a bit more as it reaches the Iron Nipple-Lindsey saddle, but there is a good climbers trail to follow of loose dirt. This is a view from the descent with better light:
It was time for another short break before heading up the ridge. The lower part is really straight forward and class 2. The route started to steepen and 1 or 2 class 3 moves dotted the solid talus climb. Soon I was nearing the crux, where I stayed as close to the ridge crest as possible. This was fun, and there was a nice exposed knife edge to cross before getting to the base of the head wall.
I took a line up a slot in the rocks to the right side of the headwall, there was a 4th class move to enter it, and anoter at the top to exit, but the middle had enough broken blocks to keep the climbing 3rd class. I was able to downclimb all but the top and bottom moves facing out. View of the headwall, sorry for the glare it was early:
The rest of the route is really just class 2 talus, and soon I was cresting over the summit of "Northwest Lindsey" with the view of the true summit in sight:
The summit had great views in every direction, and seeing as it was only 8.30, I had the whole thing to myself. To my surprise the register had 2 names from that morning that said they summited at 7am, not sure where they were when I was ascending. I was at the saddle with Iron Nipple at 7.30, so I am not sure how we crossed. I am thinking they maybe were on the standard route below me while I was on the ridge. Blanca Massif from summit:
I descended my ascent route, and soon was on my way to "Huerfano Peak". On the ascent I bypassed the Iron Nipple and headed across the talus and grass slopes to "Huerfano's" summit. This is an overview of that route from the saddle with Lindsey:
I met a couple up there who were working on the 13ers, it seems this year I see more people on Centennials than 14ers! I guess that is the benefit of starting at 6am! On the way back down I headed over to the Iron Nipple which has a fun catwalk out to its summit:
The descent went smoothly up until the creek crossing where I slipped on a rock and almost went in the drink! I took off my socks and zipped the legs of my pants to let them dry. I then spent a while at the trailhead drying my stuff in the sun. The boots were shot though, too soaked through to be able to climb in tomorrow. I guess California was going to have to be climbed in sneakers!
Sunday July 1, 2007
California Peak 13,849'
8 1/4 Miles RT
appx 4,100' vertical
via Zapata Trail
Saturday night I camped in my truck again, this time at a pullout campsite just above the Zapata/Huerfano trailhead. Again I woke up for a 6am start and headed down to the trailhead. The climb starts stiffly up steep slopes before popping out into a beautiful meadow, complete with a cow elk having her breakfast (not visible in photo):
Here the trail fizzles out to nothing and you have to follow cairned stakes in the the ground like this one:
The climb then goes back into the trees and the trail gets more defined. The slopes steepen again on the way to the appx 11,860' highpoint. Here you leave the trail and head up the gentle grassy ridge to your left:
There are several false summits along the way, but the slopes are gentle and the flowers beautiful. The route crosses over PT 13,250 and PT 13,476 (both unranked) before the true summit comes into view. This final section becomes a talus slope and a little steeper. The east face of California is also much more rugged, and almost remided me of Horseshoe.
The views from here are even better than Lindsey or Huerfano. The Blanca group looks spectacular, even steeper than from the valley floor because you can see the northeast face more in profile. The view of the Great Sand Dunes to the north, and the unobstructed view straight down almost 6000' to the San Luis Valley floor are make this perch one to remember
The descent went smoothly and I was back at the car at 11am. I guess I could have gone on to PT 13577, but with the 5+ plus drive home (including a stop for pizza at Amica's) I am glad to have left early. It was nice to get home before 5pm for once, that definitely doesn't happen during the busy work week!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):