Route: Baldwin Gulch Jeep Road
Total Elevation Gained: 769ft
You might find it odd that this trip report only details an actual climb of 769 vertical feet. Please keep in mind that this was a family event! Also, I had just climbed Shavano and Tabeguache two days earlier, I was in no shape to grind out another 4,000ft or more.
My father-in-law, mother-in-law, wife and 2 1/2yr old son crammed into the Land Cruiser for a day camp near Baldwin Lake. We wanted to spend half of the day getting those who can't pull a 4,000 vertical foot day as high as possible, and the other half eating my father-in-laws famous brunch.
Let me say that I don't want to repeat all the work that Bill has put into his route descriptions. If you want to get to the TH, go here:
Qualifying Statement: I've been on Cinnamon Pass, Tincup Pass, Monarch Pass and Engineer Pass. Don't take anything less than a strong 4WD with good clearance up #277 and #278. For example, past the creek crossing we saw a Nissan Xterra and a Dodge RAM. The Land Cruiser we were driving had been outfitted and still couldn't make it all the way to the landing (13,800').
Take #277 up about 3 miles and you will run smack into the Baldwin Creek crossing. This nice sign jumps out at you:
The Baldwin Creek Crossing:
What my son thought of the crossing:
After the crossing, you continue up the west slope of Antero. Stay on #278 through a lot of climbing and switchbacks. After you crest the lower ridge, you will be presented with a choice between #278A and #278B. Stay left on #278A! Here is an image showing the route past the A/B junction:
At this point, #278A becomes even more narrow and increasingly more difficult to navigate. The switchbacks at this point required a few turns. At the third switch back up, two switchbacks from the landing, we could go no further. A massive round rock claimed the Land Cruiser. We took a couple different angles, but stopped short for many reasons. We weren't that far from the landing, we had very precious cargo, etc.
My father-in-law, wife and I disembarked and geared up. Leaving my fast asleep son and mother-in-law in the Land Cruiser, we started up the last two switchbacks towards the landing.
Upon reaching the landing, we met some rock hounds who reluctantly showed us their finds. We then made our way across the landing to the foot of the ridge.
The ridge trail was well marked with both the obvious path and cairns. You start out on the west side of the ridge, cross over, then continue up the east side of the ridge.
Half way along the ridge, my father-in-law could go no more. The lack of oxygen really hit him hard plus he didn't want to leave my mother-in-law and son alone for too long. After a semi-heated conversation, he deemed the summit two hours away, while I said one. With no resolution in sight, my wife and I continued on.
At the base of the final summit, after the ridge, my wife decided to stop as well. Congratulations to her for making it that far! She wasn't tired, just didn't want to risk anything, being pregnant. She was going to wait for me as I made the summit and came back.
I have to tell you all that at this point I wondered about my own summit fever. Here I was, so close to the Antero summit. My third 14er in as many days! We had other things to do that day. I was considering leaving my pregnant wife after I had already left my young son, just to gain the summit...
Knowing that the weather was great, my wife was situated and comfortable in a notch along the ridge, and that my father-in-law was halfway back to the car, I pressed on.
The final portion of this climb wasn't bad at all. The trail and cairns were easily visualized and after an initial bit of aggressive angle climbing, the trail levels off quite nicely and long gentle switchbacks take you to the top. With my thoughts on the loved ones who were waiting on me, I was filled with an overwhelming rush of energy. After the first initial aggressive climbing, I stopped, took three breaths, then sprinted up the rest of the mountain.
When I reached the top I screamed so loud that my father-in-law stopped at the landing and turned around. He was totally shocked that I had made it up so fast. His prediction of two hours had been utterly demolished. From the base of the summit, I reached the top and was back down in fifteen minutes. My knees would thank me later; even as I write this my knees are warm with healing.
From the Antero summit looking South at Shavano and Tabeguache:
Great view of the route from the ridge to the base of the summit:
Here is a detailed view of the last portion of the ridge trail. Can you find my wife?
From the Antero summit looking East, with Pikes in the distant background:
From the Antero summit looking North at Princeton:
With the summit to myself and my picture taking complete I stopped to take it all in. I turned North and called out Princeton. I turned South and thanked Shavano and Tabeguache. At that point, I made a rapid decent down to join my wife.
We headed back across the ridge to the landing, then down the two switchbacks to the car. Total round trip was 90 minutes. We barely missed catching up to my father-in-law. My mother-in-law and son were fine and welcomed our return.
We then headed down to the Baldwin Creek Crossing and turned left to go camp a little bit up #277, just shy of Baldwin Lake. As the bacon, eggs and hashbrowns cooked I walked into the open and snapped this final view of Antero:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):