| Southeast Flank
I had many cancelled trips to this peak. It was my first winter tent trip. Actually today was the last day of calendar winter: break out the shorts! A big storm recently moved through this area, and the plow had not made it to the trailhead, leaving me to start from way out there in Nebraska.
It was late morning, and I was breaking trail through a foot of very wet heavy powder in the pines. It was only a matter of time before it was sticking to everything. I didn't carry any glop stop, but doubt it would have helped for this mess. Concrete slippers. It was a gorgeous day, and so I decided to be patient and hope it cooled further up. It did not, and I suffered the day away on the road, making camp about 10, 750.
I was pretty beat up, and when my alarm went off the next day, I didn't have any confidence that I would make it to the summit in time for safe snow on the descent. I took the day off, since I was well stocked on supplies and time. When things cooled off that evening, I moved up the road refreshed. The trees up to the right, in the direction of my route, was an unappealing rats nest for most of the way up, so when I came to the clearing at the bottom of a large avalanche runout, (near the summer 4x4 parking) I used it to initiate the climb back over to Humboldt's windy southeast slopes. At treeline, I crossed the gully to make camp in a small patch of old trees.
The wind pounded on my tent all night. I was mildly concerned about wind loading, but everything was so locked up and frozen, that the wind would not be as much of a factor. In the morning I compiled and buried my camp to keep it from flying away. The wind was really strong, but it was another clear cold day.
I stayed on the flanks to the east of the gully, where I was taking these pictures of Broken Hand, and fumbled when the wind knocked me on my ass. I dropped the camera, watching helplessly as it tumbled away for hundreds of feet back towards my camp. Sigh, I was really looking forward to getting some shots of the Crestones from the top.
Steadying myself with poles, I continued to double step my way up. The icy spring spindrift nipped at my nose, and it started to bleed. I gained the ridge two hours after leaving camp. It took an hour to move the remaining half-mile up the ridge to the summit. The wind on this peak was worse than on Sherman.
The view of the Crestones makes this summit very special. I took it in for quite awhile, wishing I could take a picture, but knowing there are probably plenty out there. The descent went very well, considering that this peak does not usually hold the snow well. Now I know why! I was able to leave from the summit, and ride a wind drift to get into the gully. The snow is still rock hard. The left half is bare bones, and there is sort of a double fall line until the snow settles more in the middle of the gully further down. I opened the throttle, and made this mountain smaller for awhile. Approaching treeline again, I found my camera on the snow!! I was surprised it was still in one piece! So, I was able to at least document my tracks.
I packed up camp and continued a great run down the chute below treeline to a very abrupt cliff band near the bottom. I down climbed this to the left side of the ravine, a chore with such a heavy pack. I was back to the road shortly after, split the board, and enjoyed a nice cruise out. The road had melted out completely during my trip, and I followed the snow in the ditch to the TH. The camera was not working too well here. I met an older couple out walking their dog. "Is that your car parked in the middle of the road down there? The parking break must not work to well or something."
The Southeast Face from 69
To the dunes!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):