| The San Luis Organ Gap
San Luis Peak and Organ Mountain October 26, 2008
I woke at 5AM to Aubrey‘s group heading out. I couldn‘t move and continued to snooze my alarm until 8AM. I chowed breakfast and waited for the sun to get above the horizon. A little after 8:30 I threw on my boots and headed off. The first couple miles were still chilly and the sun hadn‘t broken through the wispy clouds, and all of a sudden the sky was crystal clear and instantly I was hot. I dropped a couple layers and snapped a shot of the objective.
The hike was uneventful except for the ice covered trail and many downed trees. Soon I was breaking out of the trees. I passed Aubrey‘s group as they bottomed out in the basin. They‘d broken trail through the drifted gullies in the dark and got the gift of wind on the summit. After a few words we split and I started up to the saddle. Some places were knee deep, some crusted and others blown bare. I reached the saddle and got a good blast of the icy wind. I quickly started up the shoulder and out of the wind. The summit seemed so far away, but soon was just a few steps away.
I enjoyed an almost windless summit and decided to return over Organ Mountain. It looked really easy!
I took in the great views of the Sawatch, the Grenadiers, Eolus group, and the entire Sangre range. I tried to get a picture of Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn but some dork got in the way.
I headed down to the saddle and skirted the first cliff band on the north. After side hilling around to the next point I had to top out and start the rotten ridge.
The first obstacle was a few towers that could be avoided on the left.
The ridge mellowed out and seemed to stay tame all the way to Organ Mountain. As I neared the last point before Organ, it opened before me. A gap in the ridge that cut in 30‘ or so deep. I found a way into the bottom and checked out the options. Descend the couloir 50‘ to a promising looking chute or climb to a break half way up the face. I decided the icy couloir without crampons would surely do me in, but I had a good shot at the wall. I knew what could be if a fall occurred. I knew the rock was worthless. I kicked my boots to clear the snow and started up. The moves were easy, big feet and great hands. I had to stomp and punch every hold before trusting it. The mind has trouble letting the body be free when danger is involved. I had to force myself to trust each movement. I reached over the block that marked the end and breathed a sigh of relief as the crappy rock sloped up from the trench. I finally gained that last point, and looked back at my recent past.
On to Organ! Finally on a gentle ridge.
I took the first notch in the cliffs to break through to the summit.
The rock may not be as bad as the rotten ridge, but it moved under almost every movement. I pawed my way through the stacks of rock and topped the summit ridge by 1:30. I found a second perfect windless summit.
After taking in the view and a snack, I was off. The north ridge seemed the most logical as it sloped gently back to the trail. The first couple hundred feet was steep, shifty talus, which soon gave way to grassy slopes. As I made a line to the bottom, I saw the silhouette of that rotten ridge...
and the gap...
and the lack of escape!
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