| Yale - East Ridge
I couldn't find too much info about a winter ascent of the East Ridge before I did it myself, so I thought I'd provide a trip report of my experiences.
We parked at the well marked Avalanche Gulch trailhead on 31 Jan 09 and hit the Colorado Trail about 3:30 pm to cover as much ground as we could before making camp for the night.
The trail was well broken but soft enough to make snowshoes a must. My climbing partner neglected the snowshoes and was postholing the entire way, which made the going pretty slow (about two and a half hours to camp). Easy class 1 hiking, or not so easy class 1 hiking sans snowshoes.
We set up camp between 11,000 and 11,500 ft well after dark and settled in for the night. We left camp and hit the trail the next morning (01 Feb 09) around 7:00 am and gained the ridge within an hour. Shortly after leaving the Colorado Trail for the East Ridge, we saw the rest of the terrain ahead of us and ditched the snowshoes. For the most part, the ridge involved simple Class 2 hiking and on talus and some scree. The picture below is the ridgline up to PT 13,420. The summit of Mt. Yale can be seen just to the right of the 13er.
The area around PT 13,420 provided some fun occasional class 3 rock scrambling, but you could probably avoid it. We might have "accidently" taken the hard way around a few obstacles.
At approximately 13,500 ft, we saw it would be easier to stay on snowfields than on rock, so we donned the crampons and readied the ice axes. When we couldn't stay on the crest of the ridge, we diverted to the north slightly, which provided really good, solid snow that was moderately steep. Definitely recommend having the axe for self belay/arrest, although the footing was really solid and we didn't end up using it for the intended purpose (thankfully).
The ridge from the 13er up to the summit of Mt. Yale.
We gained the summit after 4 hours on the ridge. The hike back was brutal as I hate hiking downhill on loose talus. We got back to our campsite in the trees around sunset, packed up, and headed back to the trailhead. We finally arrived back at the Avalanche Gulch approximately 6:30 pm after a day longer than expected. I think it was worth missing the Super Bowl, though.
Here are some more pictures of the ridgeline:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):