| Loveland Pass - A-Basin Traverse
On Friday morning I parked at the top of Loveland Pass with the intention of traversing the entire ridge over to the top of Arapahoe Basin, including Grizzly Peak and Lenawee Mountain in between. I had a tough time finding any beta online, hopefully this will help future climbers. In brief, it was a very fun ridge traverse, probably class 4 along the ridge, with many tough spots that can be skirted.
I parked at the top of the pass (signs say parking permitted 7am - 7pm) and started hiking east around 7:30. There‘s a very strong trail up to the first peak around 11,900‘. From there, I turned south and followed a good trail up to the peak around 13,100‘. Between the two there are some limited opportunities for class 2+/3 scrambling here:
Alternatively, you can stay on a strong trail. Here‘s a broad look back on those sections from the top of Grizzly:
To that point, it‘s all trail hiking, much of it steep. Going up Grizzly, it turns to class 2 hiking, again steep:
Heading off Grizzly to the Southwest (East would lead to Torreys) it‘s clear the hiking is nearing its end:
There is much scrambling between Grizzly and Lenawee. Where I went, I would judge 4th class, but I don‘t have the experience to distinguish between 4th and lower-5th class. For the most part, where there was exposure, the moves weren‘t tough. And many of the tougher sections could be skirted, usually by heading left of the ridge.
Despite my best intentions, my memory of all the scrambling is blurred. I don‘t know how Bill does the write-ups... a notebook on the climbs, perhaps? Anyway, here are some pictures of the area, with anything I remember below them:
This is one section that would be tough to skirt. Steep talus on the left.
This section I found a bit challenging.
At some point the rock turns iron-stained red, and a trail picks up briefly. The rock is still mostly solid here:
Somehow I thought that when I got to the pasture in the upper-right corner of the above picture, the scrambling would be done, and I would walk down into A-Basin. Infact, Lenawee is a significant scramble beyond the grass. That assumption ended up messing me up pretty good.
I believe that was a down climb.
Looking back on much of the terrain between Grizzly and Lenawee.
So I got to the grass thinking I was all but done and had a snack, and then noticed I had this in front of me:
I scrambled across the ridge to the small saddle about 1/4 from the left of the above picture, and looked up at a ridge with miserable looking rock. Wanting to be done at this point, I decided to traverse across the Northwest face of Lenawee. Big mistake. The rock on the face was incomparably worse than any I‘ve been on previously. I ended up on slabs requiring exposed, 5th class moves with every rock wanting to come off at every hold. This looks up on the worst of it from below:
I ended up descending this awful gully:
I don‘t know what the difficulty on the ridge is like, but it didn‘t look bad. The rock did look awful. Skirting the summit on the NW side isn‘t really an option. I think you could bail and descend sooner, but sticking with the ridge seems like the best way to go.
Walking down thru A-Basin, I found a number of items that had presumably fallen out of skiers pockets during falls, including an iPhone! Haven‘t figured out if it works or is under warranty, but somehow I doubt either. From the road, it took 3 cars to get a ride back up to the top. Round trip time was about 7 hours. Much of that was spent trying to traverse Lenawee‘s NW face. About 2.5 hours to the top of Grizzly and another 2 to the grassy field.
I really enjoyed the traverse and would encourage it for anyone comfortable scrambling. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions. Happy climbing!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):