| Spooky Sawatch
Halloween Weekend 10/31/2008-11/01/2008
Day 1: Huron and Brown's via Rockdale
Day 2: Missouri Mtn, Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford via Missouri Gulch
Day 1: Huron and Brown's
I arrived at the Rockdale TH around 1800 on Thursday night after driving up from Denver. Knowing the next day was not going to be too hard, I decided I would camp in the Jeep, and do the whole shebang on Friday. I woke up around 0545 and started hiking around 0630. The hike up the 4x4 road was cake and the conditions were great. Looking up and seeing nothing but stars, I knew that it was going to be a great day weather-wise. Anyways, when you start to get high up on the 4x4 road there is an old trail sign 100 ft past the flat parking area, stay right.
Sign for Huron Trail
Things get rather nebulous from here and keeping the trail can be very challenging. Just stay the course and press on through the trees and up the hill till you finally get to treeline. This part can be somewhat tricky though because it is rather steep and the bushwhacking got pretty intense for me. Anyways, I got up to treeline around 0800... I think. Upon eating a granola bar, and looking at the map, I realized that I took the wrong drainage up and was now sitting above lake lois. Not too big of a deal I decided because they all lead up to the summit ridge. Continuing right along, I climbed up to the top of the drainage, where I picked up a class 3 couloir to climb up(I was itching for some steep snow) and it dumped me off right at the summit. Note: I took a harder route, because I felt up to it, if you stay one drainage North, the ascent is very simple. I summited around 1000.
My Ascent in blue Standard Ascent in red
The Three Apostles from Huron
After a quick snack and a little sunny R&R I began my descent down Huron and over to Brown's. After another short rest on Brown's I took off down the usual drainage back to the 4x4 road. Once again, I found routefinding on this segment to be challenging simply because it is steep and there is not real trail. I used a large boulder gully as an easier way down. The rest of the trip was an easy 2.5 miles back down the 4x4 road and back to the Jeep. Cooked up some food and moved the camp(car) over to Missouri Gulch TH.
Day 2: Missouri, Belford and Oxford
Knowing I had a long day ahead of me I left the Jeep at 0345. I hiked in the dark all the way till I gained the summit ridge of Missouri. This trail was much easier to keep than the one yesterday... Kinda nice. If you are doing it during daylight it is a breeze, if it is dark however there are two things you have to look for and keep in mind. First is the junction to Missouri Mtn is all the way at the back of the Gulch... just have to keep going till you see the sign for Elkhead pass and Missouri Mtn(stay right). The second thing to look for is the log "bridge" which at night can be harder to spot. Once you get to a somewhat heavily traveled area in the trees near the creek, you need to look climbers left and the rickety bridge is right there keeping you on track.
"bridge" circled in red
Once you get to the Missouri trail junction it was good climbing up to the summit ridge. It was getting light when I got to the ridge, and actually pretty cold (20deg) compared to yesterday morning. I summited Missouri around 0700, snapped a few pictures and knowing that the day had really just begun I began the descent.
Sunrise over the Belford group from Missouri Mtn ridge
I decided though that to save some energy, and time I would use the ax and make a fun glissade back down one of the couloirs to the basin. Did this, had a huge glissade all the way back down and then began the trek up the west shoulder of Belford.
Glissade path in green
This was pretty easy, just had to keep going up the grassy hill till the summit was all of a sudden there. Met a couple of climbers on the summit who were planning to go over to Oxford. I was cold and wanted to keep moving, so I marked the summit had a quick bite, and began the journey over to Oxford.
The way over to Oxford went pretty fast and then the summit push was relatively easy as well. The trails in this area are great and there is no such thing as route-finding. The sun came out when I was on top of Oxford, and began to warm things up.
Leadville from Oxford
By now I was beginning to feel the distance and vertical feet, especially on the traverse back to Belford. The weather held out wonderfully, and I zoned out and ground out the return trek back down the standard route on Belford, and followed the trail all the way back to the Jeep at Missouri Gulch TH. I arrived back down around 1500 which put me right at 11hrs 15min for the round trip triumverate. This day was extremely long but also very rewarding. It was a great two days...
Some stats on this weekend: 5 peaks, ~29 miles, ~12500 vertical feet of elevation... What a way to spend halloween.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):