| South and North Arapahoe Peaks
Peak: South (13,397') and North (13,502') Arapahoe Peaks
Date: Saturday, June 28, 2008
Team: ajkagy (Adam), krz2fer (Chris), Ryan (krz2fer's brother)
Route: 4th of July Trailhead
Roundtrip: ~8.5 miles
It's been a while since I posted TR on 14ers so I figured a nice slide into summer fun would be a post about the fun hike and traverse that was South and North Arapahoe Peaks. Adam and I were thinking about planning Neva's west ridge this weekend, but ultimately decided on these two peaks after some additional beta research and photo searching on SummitPost. The Neva route seemed more questionable, especially with the good chance for a lot of snow still holding and the lack of crux info we could find.
The alarm went off at 2:45a in Denver and we were in Boulder an hour later driving to the trailhead. We were off by 4:45a up the Arapahoe Pass trail making good time. It's amazing how much "easier" hiking is without snow gear either on your back or feet, not to mention the layers on your body. After this same group did Parry Peak via SW slopes two weeks ago, this seemed much quicker.
At first glow looking back towards the valley floor. Excellent morning to be out.
Once breaking treeline, Neva's impressive face filled our views. We were glad we weren't trying for that ridge on this day.
The trail was straight forward with very little snow still on the route as we climbed passed the trees. A few patches of snow here and there but no snow gear was needed. The trail proceeds roughly 2 miles to a junction where you cut right and head towards South Arapahoe (the glacier trail). Once again very easy to find, save a few snow patches still left melting out.
Looking at the Skywalker Couloir.
Adam approaching the ridge line before a snack break and final summit push.
The line up to the ridge is easy enough and we made quick time with it. At this point we noted another group of 3 ahead of us that said they'd started around 4:00a when we caught up with them at the summit. The ridge itself holds some nice scrambling and variety from the standard trail. The views off the edge are spectacular. There were a few areas of class 3 scrambling, but otherwise fairly tame and fun.
On the summit of South Arapahoe (7:45a) we took a break and checked out the traverse ahead of us.
We were now above neighboring Jasper and Neva mountains! Rad views.
The other group ahead of us launched into the traverse so we watched for about 10 minutes as we took a break. We were a little bit hesitant as certain areas looked to still hold a bit of snow and we didn't bring any snow gear, knowing that if we encountered tough conditions we'd call it a day. The main crux of this route, as noted on SummitPost, is a large class 4 block that you must climb up roughly 10-20 feet. Some other trip reports we searched noted this block to be at a wild angle and pretty tough. You be the judge:
Looking up at the main crux of the traverse with the group ahead (2 of the 3) deciding to turn back.
With the group ahead of us calling it a day, I wondered what they saw that caused them to turn around. I gathered that a couple of the guys were relative newbies or flat landers (either, or - not positive) and it was best for them to stop while they were ahead.
Ryan bringing up the rear. Coming up the block with a few move suggestions from us.
Anyway, the crux itself wasn't too tricky. We're all climbers so the move up the face isn't too bad. It essentially involves a mid level crack you need to lock into and, using some upper body strength, pumping yourself up to the small ledge that allows you to get better position as you move to the top. Class 4, perhaps technically, but the exposure level wasn't too bad.
Moving ahead the route finding was a little bit of an issue here and there, with cairns leading the way over the final 0.25 miles or so. The route / trail moved between a rocky path and just eying cairns in the distance. We got off track a few times but often backtracked a few feet to get back on our way without much issue.
Route finding isn't difficult as long as you keep your eyes peeled for cairns.
The remaining route was noted for a few more crux moves, but we only encountered one section of down climbing that was slightly hairy in order to follow the cairns. It comes just before the final scramble to the summit. I don't have a photo, but you'd know it. The exposure is a bit higher than the block move and it reminded me of the homestretch on Longs a little bit. Yet, thankfully this section had a deeper crack system that helped a lot.
Otherwise, we took a route left from the ridge and around to the summit for the final push to North Arapahoe.
The summit of North Arapahoe (9:00a) all to ourselves. A nice view of Longs and Meeker that looked quite melted out to the south.
We could see a handful of people on the South peak. It was crazy how we could hear their voices too. Bizarre.
Looking towards the Boulder Watershed atop clouds. Great morning.
Me and Adam on the summit.
The traverse back was similar, albeit tougher on the knees. Ever since a hike this winter where I banged up a knee, I call myself Patrick Ewing on the descents if my knee starts to act up. Aside from some soreness and backwards route finding, it wasn't too bad. We passed many more folks on the way down, many starting too late in the day to be safe, but that's how it goes.
All in all, another great day in the mountains, being able to say hello to a couple 13ers and a fun traverse! We are lucky to live here.
A good starting point link for more info:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):