| Winter Moonlight Cristo 13eener, Eagle Peak
Eagle Peak 13,205
March 11-12, 2009
~11.1 Miles, ~4300 gain
With two days off and only a few days left in winter, I decided to try to sneak in a few thirteeners. My plan was to camp at Rainbow Lake and complete the cirque of thirteeners in the area but marginal weather halted that idea. My wife and I left Denver around 10:30 and made our way to the trailhead. I was anticipating on parking at Rainbow Trail Camp but due to the lack of snow I was able to drive another mile before the snow stopped further progress. We started hiking by 2:30 and made the 3.2 mile hike to Rainbow Lake. We didn't have to put on snowshoes until the last ˝ mile.
After setting up camp, I decided to start breaking trail for the next morning. Fortunately, I didn't have to break that much trail since the snow was firm. From Rainbow Lake, I was able to scout a scree gully which would guide me up the northeast ridge of Eagle Peak without using snowshoes. I returned to camp, ate dinner and went to bed by 7:00 PM.
At 2:15 AM the alarm went off. I packed my daypack, ate a bagel and was hiking by 2:45 AM as my smart wife stayed asleep. Once I hiked out of the trees and was hiking around the east side of Rainbow Lake, I was able to get a better view of the peaks. They were socked in with clouds. Eagle was trying to appear but the other peaks deeper in the basin were completely clouded up. I still decided to continue even if it was just for one summit.
Once I reached the top of the scree slope, I had to strap on the snowshoes. I followed the ridge through the trees as the bright moonlight made my Tikka look dim. After about 1/4 mile of snowshoeing, I was out of the trees and on a snow free ridge. From here, I could see the clouds dancing off the summit of Eagle; the moonlight in the background. I continued upward as the moment was very euphoric.
When I got closer to the summit and when the clouds rolled in, the moonlight bled away into a deep darkness. The rocks on top of the peak were engulfed by the clouds, and were slick since they were freshly coated with frost. This made the last 300-400 vertical feet slow going. I reached the summit while in and on a cloud around 5:20 AM. Good views today! While I took out a snack, the clouds cleared up for a moment. During the clearing, I could see the large Foehn-wall that encompassed my other peaks that I had planned for the day and at this point, I decided I would return to camp. Subsequently, I could see the next wave of clouds creeping my way.
Since it is such a heatwave on the summit of a 13eener, in the middle of the night, in the winter, I hastily abandoned the summit and returned to camp before sunrise. I went back to sleep and woke up at 10:00 AM. My wife and I ate breakfast, packed up camp, and headed back to the car.
Home sweet home.
The Foehn-Wall is coming.
The moon is going, going...
Good summit, ey.
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