| Antero mid-June
For my first 14er of the season, I met Mike at the base of the Baldwin Gulch Road around 6:30 Friday evening. He put his gear in my Jeep Liberty and we headed up the bouncy, rocky road a touch under three miles before crossing Baldwin Creek (around 10,850). There was a second creek about 0.3mi past the first, and we parked and camped another 0.3mi beyond that, near 11,350.
We were on the trail by 6:30 Saturday morning with Brady, my dog. There were some snow patches on the road as we approached tree line.
Photo 1 looks up at the switchbacks as we neared tree line.
Photo 2 is looking back from the same location at the first. The snow here had melted substantially by the descent and was passable by any 4×4 that had made it past the creek.
We made the first switchback (very deep snow still- see Photo 3) and then noticed as we approached the first gully that everyone ahead of us was taking the snowy gully shortcut- Photo 4. We elected to do the same and shave some mileage off the total hike.
Photo 3 - Lots of snow across the road.
Photo 4 - Four climbers and a dog are visible hiking up the gully.
Photo 5 looks down from the top of the first section of the gully.
Photo 6 shows Mike & Brady continuing up the gully.
We exited the gully where the road crosses it for the last time and took the road. Around the bend we saw a trail leading up from the road- Photo 7. This saves some unnecessary time on the road.
Photo 7 - Exit the road on this trail and gain the ridge.
As we began this shortcut trail, we looked down what I call "gully #2" and saw two hikers taking that route; they are visible in Photo 8.
Photo 8 - Two hikers are coming up "gully #2"
This shortcut takes you to the ridge and you should climb the ridge to reach point 13,800. No trail was real clear up the ridge, so we continued south and rejoined the road. The road was pretty flat as it continued east until we reached a 'Y' in the road.
Photo 9 - Go up the road (left) at the 'Y'.
We stayed on the road as it switched-back up the south side of Point 13,800 and the road ended near the top of Point 13,800.
Photo 10 - The switchbacks up the south side.
From 13,800 we finally had a good view of the remaining route to the summit.
Photo 11 - the remaining route from Point 13,800.
Photos 12 (above) & 13 (below) - As we approached the snow on the traverse, we stayed up high to avoid the worst of snow.
With just the final ridge between us and the summit, it was within reach. We stayed left of the snow. Oddly, the route-finding was easier on the way up this final ridge than on the return trip. This final ridge was by far the windiest part of the whole day (up & down).
Photo 14 - Looking up the final ridge to the summit.
We passed several people coming down on the rest of our traverse and on the final ridge, likely the same folks above us in Photo 4. We summited at 9:35, just a touch over 3 hours.
Mike, Brady, and me on the summit.
Shortly after we topped off, some guys joined us on the summit, likely the same two from "gully #2". We ended up spending over an hour on the summit, just taking in the view. It was absolutely beautiful with not a cloud in the sky. Amazing.
Anyway, we started back down at 10:45. The route was the same, except when we got to "gully #2" I convinced Mike that a glissade would save a lot of time. We used our poles since neither of us had brought ice axes. The snow was rather bumpy and hard, so it took a minute to pick out my wedgie.
Photo 15 - Mike on the glissade with Brady looking on.
The top half of the gully was pretty quick, but it flattened out a bit and then it was time to shed a few layers. The gully dumped us on the road just above tree line and we headed back to the car.
As I already mentioned, the snow patches on the road had melted a lot throughout the morning, so most 4×4 vehicles could make it almost to tree line (11,800).
We were back to the Jeep at 1:15. According to Mike's GPS (mine kept losing signal and turning off), we covered 5.86 miles in just under seven hours.
It took us half an hour to pack up camp and another thirty minutes to drive back to 162. After unloading Mike's stuff, I hit the road at 2:30 and was back to Denver by 5:15 (162 to 285 to 9 to 70 for a change of scenery).
In all, it was a great first hike of the season and I can't wait for more!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):