| scrambling in the IPW
Chris, Nate and I agreed on another Indian Peaks endeavor since 1) Its right around the corner and 2) Its sick. We left Golden around 3:30am, hit the trail from Long Lake TH at 5. The approach is very mellow, barely works the lungs, I think its 2.75 miles and 2000 feet of elevation. Here is a shot of first light hitting Navajo Pk and the basin :
The sky was pretty much empty and we knew we were in for a real solid day. Here is a closer up shot of the slope and route we took to gain Apache‘s east ridge :
And one of the few opportunites for some scrambling before we reached the summit. We hit the ridge leading up to Apache‘s big, flat summit and the wind was pickin up pretty good by this point. We had some great views of Longs to the North, and then Lone Eagle cirque down to the West. By the way, this is the most amazing basin in Colorado, the Lone Eagle that is, in my not so humble opinion, it makes something like the Chicago Basin look like Cleveland, Ohio and I‘ll stubbornly stand by that statement. I had the pleasure of climbing that peak the week before via the Monarch Lake approach. If you want a long scenic approach, incredible basin w/ alpine lakes and numerous opportunities for some highly exposed scramlbing, check this place out, you‘d be doing yourself an injustice if you don‘t. Here‘s the shot of a scrambling section up to Apache w/ Navajo in the background :
We reached Apache‘s summit around 8am, an ascent of a little under 3 hours. The summit was windy as all hell, kind of cold and the summit register was mangled and waterlogged.
hangin‘ on Apache‘s summit w/ Navajo looming in the foreground :
After scarfing down some buffalo wing flavored pretzels and a payday, we began the traverse over to Navajo. Here‘s a good look at the route and terrain :
First off, Apache was not a very fun hike, Navajo was, simply put. Apache just wetted our appetites for the scrambling that would lie ahead. Upon reaching the base of Navajo, we were faced with a first scrambling section :
Chris checking out what lies around the corner after this narrow, exposed section of the traverse. There was a steep slope to our right and the exposure got more and more exciting the further into the traverse we got.
Overlooking the last section before we began the ascent up to Navajo‘s summit. Navajo‘s standard route is pretty uneventful and an ascent up Airplane Gully would flat out suck. This was surprsingly a very interesting, fun route.
This section was reminiscent of Kit Carson Ave, cept its a good amount narrower, exposure is about the same and the upclimb summit pitch is a lot more interesting w/ some great rock.
Here was the beginning of the "chimney" Roach talks about in his book. For a brief overview, its decent in steepness, the rock is very stable w/ consistent handholds and the narrowness makes for a very fun couple class 3/4 pitches. This was more or less the highlight of the day.
And a shot of Chris upclimbing, near the middle of the chimney :
Nearing Navajo‘s summit :
Group shot on the summit(If you look closely, you might get a glimpse of a half-smile from Nate) :
To sum up the day, we had both these peaks all to ourselves, minus the last 2 minutes on Navajo, we ran into a group of 2 who gave us some good routes in the area to do. This area was no Lone Eagle and the crowds were massive back down near the lakes, but its an area definately worth checking out. Also, access to the peaks is easy, the routes are pretty straightfoward and the physical exertion is surprisingly low. If your not convinced that this is a cool place to check out, maybe these last 2 pics will.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):