| A Last Hurrah on an Almost 14er
Peak: Mount Ouray
Route: West Ridge
RT Distance: 6.4 Miles
Gain: 3,240 Vertical Feet
Participants: Skasgaard, stevevets689
View of our route
This will be my last trip report for over a month. From July 14th, I will be in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for 30 days, working on trails and getting college credit under the shadow of Crestone Needle. It's not that I'm not going to be climbing at all during that time, it's just that I won't have much of a selection. I'll be stuck with the Crestones! Poor me, right?
At any rate, I had a little time left to make a climb of my choice, so I started planning. Originally I wanted to do Kit Carson Peak's North Ridge, and got Kiefer (Skasgaard) as a climbing partner for it, but when the day before the climb arrived, so did a downpour. I called Kiefer and we agreed that wet, exposed class 4 rock didn't sound like a good idea, so we started looking over other options. Eventually it came to our attention that neither of us had hiked Mount Ouray. Sounds like a deal to me.
Wednesday morning we met a little after 5:00 AM at the Marshall Pass Trailhead and started hiking. We hiked up a little road which led to a cabin that was packed with firewood. There is a woodstove and a few hard bunks. I made a mental note of this place in case I ever come back up here in the winter.
The Northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains pre-dawn
We continued on into the woods without a trail. The terrain was pretty open and we made smooth progress. The skies were clear and the air was cool. Timberline came abruptly and we continued northward along the Continental Divide. Ouray looks impossibly tall and steep from here, but luckily it's not as hard as it looks.
Mount Ouray from a little above timberline
As we came to the junction with Ouray's west ridge, the views had already opened up. We could see Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak, as well as Mount Aetna. To the south, Antora Peak looked impressive, and it obviously caught Kiefer's eye as I kept noticing him looking over at it. The Sangre de Cristo Range was already almost entirely in view. Down to the west, Ouray's shadow stretched out for a couple miles.
The shadow of the mountain
The West Ridge from the Continental Divide
Now for the ridge. There were a few ups and downs to get to the actual mountain, but once we were there it started its steady climb to the summit. The ridge was definitely much shallower than either of us expected, and we were able to move fairly quickly. About halfway up the ridge came an outcropping of a lighter colored rock with a lot of quartz and mica in it. It was very solid and had a lot of holds, so instead of going around it, we turned our class 2 hike into a class 3 scramble. The climbing was short but superb, and it added a bit of flair to an otherwise somewhat monotone route.
"This looks a lot like Humboldt…"
The light rock outcropping
The summit was attained at just after 8:00 AM, about three hours after starting. We were surprised to find several rock structures that look like large, square wind shelters, one of which had a small stack of bricks mortared together! Not sure why those were there but someone took a big effort in getting them there. The views were good, the chocolate was sweet, and the sun was shining. I basked in my last free summit until late August.
Antora Peak from the summit
The Sangre de Cristo Range
The Southern Sawatch
Looking down into the Devil's Armchair
A while later we started descending, and the descent seemed more tedious than the ascent due to large steps down big rocks. We went around the light colored rock on the way down and contemplated heading over to hike Chipeta Mountain and the 13er beyond it, but I decided that my legs had had enough. We turned south on the Divide again and made our way back down to the cars. We arrived before noon and drove down to Salida and ate at Amica's, then I wished Kiefer farewell and returned to the valley. I started thinking about the next trip report I will write after this. It will most likely be a long-winded account of a month long adventure including ascents of Humboldt Peak, Broken Hand Peak, and Crestone Needle. If I'm lucky, I'll get a group to do the Crestone Traverse…
For more pictures from this climb, please visit my online photo album at http://picasaweb.google.com/coloradoclimberguy/
A butterfly we found on the hike out
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):