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 Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
 Post Date:  08/18/2008 Modified: 08/19/2008
 Date Climbed:   08/08/2008
 Posted By:  Ericjlindy

 Lindsey / Crestone Needle (Pt. 1)   

It poured the night before, so Tom, Mike and I were pretty concerned about staying dry the next day…hike day. We woke up at 4:30am and hit the road from our cabin near Westcliffe and headed south toward Lindsey. We had a beautiful sunrise with scattered high clouds but a very damp feel. Hopefully things would dry out later.

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The morning drive to the Huerfano / Lily Lake TH took longer than expected (1-1/2 hours total). Lindsey is off the beaten path so be prepared for at least 45 minute to the start of the trail from the main road. Just prior to getting going we spotted the infamous Huerfano Black Bear lurking in the woods not 30 ft from our position. Not willing to mingle, he quickly disappeared without incident. We were quickly on our guard especially for the initial trek through the woods. Luckily, there would be nothing adverse to report.

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We began hiking a little after 7:00am and the trail was uneventful to the river crossing. The water was running high and fast for August given the previous day's rain. We were not able to spot a true log or rock crossing so we were forced to wade across.

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The route followed the river through the forest and gradually became steeper. There were some areas were we could not pick up the trail. The cairns were spotty…they either didn't exist or were difficult to spot especially in areas where needed.

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Just before the second stream crossing we passed an abandoned mine opening. There we spotted a pair of old boots at the mouth of the cave that were somewhat mysterious. We debated if the boots belonged to someone currently sleeping in the cave or if they were a miner's relic. I don' think we really resolved the debate.

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We continued up the lower gully to tree line and the flat basin before the push to the Lindsey / Iron Nipple saddle. The basin was a good break from the previous steep route and provided fantastic views on all three sides. The tops of Blanca and Ellingwood were shrouded in clouds and seemed like they were holding back the weather. At this point we got our first views of Lindsey and the high route through the steep gully.

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We trudged through the 2nd flat area past the rock field to the saddle at 13,150'. It was at this point when we say the clouds starting to build to the east and north, that we felt a sense of urgency to summit.

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We continued on the ridge to the bottom of the gully and prepared for scrambling.We spider crawled up the steep gully one by one careful not to kick loose any rocks. Of course we left our newly purchased helmets in the car. They would have been nice to have especially in the upper gully but they were not really necessary.

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The gully is the crux of the route and was borderline class 3 but I don't think the pitch warrants that rating.
Tom and Mike ended up about 20 minutes ahead of me so route finding became an issue after the gully. Somehow I strayed more left than I should have and ended up scrambling straight up rocks to regain the route. This probably cost me 10 minutes, not what you want when the clouds are building.

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After a short while Mike and Tom were coming down just before I reached the summit ridge. Mike joined me for the last 10 minutes to the summit…his second. We topped out at about 11am snapped a summit shot and quickly turned around.

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The trip out of the rocks to below the gully was slow as again we were trying not to dislodge any rocks.

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Despite the building clouds, we managed to stay dry all the way back to the car.

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We finished at approximately 2:15pm…not bad for a rather difficult hike. We downed a beer a piece at the TH, watched for bears and drove back to Westcliffe for a steak dinner and to recharge. Crestone Needle was scheduled the next day…

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