| Fantastic day in the mountains on "West Evans" and Spalding
Mount Spalding (13,842') and "West Evans" (14,256')
Partner(s): Susan Paul and Espen Jansen
Trailhead: Winter Closure for Guanella Pass
Distance:Approx. 10.50 miles
Elevation Gain: Approx. 3,900'
The weather forecast looked pretty good for this time of the year: mostly cloudy, high of 38 degrees, and 20-30 mph winds with 50 mph gusts, so Susan and I decided to continue our quest to summit the 22 unranked Colorado 14ers, or points above 14,000' that don't really qualify as ranked peaks due to the limited drop in elevation between them and their more famous big brothers. These little adventures were giving us a lot of great training opportunities at high altitude, on steep snow – and we didn't have to do a lot of "repeaking." It was the perfect training plan for our impending higher altitude outings. Our friend Espen joined us on this hike to help break trail - got to love that!
Guanella Pass has a fair amount of construction going on, and we were surprised to see two sets of lights in use, to manage traffic along the single lane sections of road, on the way up to the winter closure at the Naylor Lake turnoff.
Gosh I hate all the traffic.
There were several vehicles in the parking lot and it was great to see others taking advantage of the great weather!
We hiked up the well-packed road with our snowshoes in tow for the much anticipated willow-fest getting through Scott Gomer Creek. Along the road we had occasional views of the Sawtooth, which looked incredible with snow on it. We proceeded up the road for three switchbacks, then departed at treeline to head across the willows. At first we were able to use a nice ski track, but that only slightly postponed the inevitable, and we were soon putting on the snowshoes.
Me, Sawtooth, and Espen.
A couple of guys had started up before us, so we followed their path through most of the willows, making our effort a little less exhausting (though we still post-holed a lot).
You gonna run right up that couloir, Susan?
The views of the Sawtooth were awesome from this vantage point, as well as most of the way up Spalding.
Looking down the east ridge of Spalding with Square Top Mountain (13,794' – just left of center), Argentine Peak (13,738'), Mount Wilcox (13,408' – just right of Argentine), Grays Peak (14,270') and Torreys Peak (14,267') on far right.
The Sawtooth, me, and Mount Bierstadt.
Approaching Mount Spalding.
Not the summit. Susan just likes to be on top of everything!
At Scott Gomer Creek we headed north fighting through the nasty willows and eventually gained the east ridge of Mount Spalding and followed that all the way to the summit.
The views from Mount Spalding were incredible, especially toward the dramatic north face of Mount Evans. We also had a perfect view of "West Evans," our ultimate goal for the day. Due to the wind and time we only took a few photos and a quick snack break before moving on to the next summit.
Looking southeast at Mount Evans (14,258') and "West Evans" (14,256') – which is the bump in the middle. There's a distinct notch to the right of our summit and a false summit just to the right of that.
From Mount Spalding we headed toward the Evans/Spalding saddle and reconnected with the summer trail to Mount Evans; here we spotted the two hikers that had so graciously broken trail for us earlier that day – thanks to whomever you are!
Looking back at Mount Spalding.
Hiking on the trail was great at first, but as we started our traverse below the ridge our progress got a little slower due to snow, rocks, holes, and some steep side-hilling, and with all our focus on the terrain I was afraid we might miss the turnoff for "West Evans."
Got a little steep and rocky along the traverse.
We knew our summit was a bump beyond the big notch, so I headed up to the ridge a couple of times to get my bearings and make sure we were still on track. We did bypass it, but only by a little bit, so we corrected ourselves, looped back and headed right on up to the summit.
It's hard to believe that "West Evans" is so close to the trail – within 100 feet or so – however from the trail you can't even see it.
Approaching the summit with Mount Evans to the east.
Looking west at Mount Bierstadt (14,060' – left) and The Sawtooth.
Looking northwest at Grays Peak and Torreys Peak (center), Mount Parnassus (13,574' – just above and right of rock outcrop in foreground), and Bard Peak (13,641' – right of Parnassus).
Espen Say Relax. Looking northwest at Mount Spalding (13,842' – center) and Gray Wolf Mountain (13,602' – just behind and right of Spalding).
Looking northeast Rogers Peak (13,391') and Mount Warren (13,307') in center.
And "West Evans" makes 10.
Peace (of cake).
I think I need to sharpen my axe.
We nourished up enjoying our successful day before starting the long slog down.
Susan, cairn marking the point at which you should go up, and Rosalie Peak (13,575').
Down and out.
Mount Bierstadt and the Sawtooth.
We pretty much went down the same way we came up, other than skirting Mount Spalding since none of us really wanted to reclimb it.
At this point we were actually looking forward to the willows. Huh?
The willows down in Scott Gomer to the road were ridiculous as the warm temperature had softened things up so much that the snowshoes were practically worthless. That big soupy mess made for a tremendous return effort, so we rotated leads back to the road, and tried not to drown while wading patiently through the willow-wallow. All in all it was a fantastic day!!!
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