| Princeton on Memorial Day
Following a rain and snow-drenched summit of Huron on Sunday, we set out for Princeton on Memorial Day.
We had the pleasure on Sunday night staying at the KOA Campground, where we got hot showers and were able to dry out our soaked clothing. We really like this campground because the the staff is so down-to-earth, fun, and accommodating. Tommy, the owner, is a climber, and we are able to share all of our climbing stories over a group campfire that he normally starts near dusk.
At 5:30 a.m. on Memorial Day we set out from the campground toward Princeton. We had a little trouble finding the entrance to the trailhead, but made a few educated guesses and soon were on our way up the road to the radio towers. Although the road did not have huge boulders or ruts at this point, there were occasional places where a low clearance vehicle would have bottomed out. We continued 3 miles on this road to the radio towers, and the road remained completely dry. We decided not to chance going any further up the road, however and parked there. We noted as we began hiking that we could have easily made it to the camping spots near 11,000 feet.
The first switchback above the camping spots had some substantial snow to maneuver around.
The second switchback from the camping areas was filled with snow, which made it nearly impassible by a vehicle.
We left the road and took a temporary trail to the north to gain the first saddle. Coming around that saddle, we caught our first close up glimpse of Princeton.
It looked like a very long way. At this point the clouds were still just morning cloud cover and the heavier clouds were out of sight.
We continued up the trail and eventually had to start Boulder hopping. We crossed three fairly substantial snow gullies, which were easily negotiated in the softer snow. You can see the snow gullies just barely before the summit ridge becomes steep.
When we reached the summit ridge, the clouds to the north toward Yale and to the south toward Antero were black and moisture filled. Nonetheless, there were still clear skies over Princeton, and we didn't see or hear any lightening or thunder so we continued on up the mountain. It took so long boulder hopping before we got to the ridge that I was afraid the clouds would turn their attention to Princeton before we made the summit.
Lonnie was on a roll this second day and kept a blistering pace up the summit ridge.
Carlos and I trudged on after him and we all finally made it to the top. We took some summit photos, ate our lunch quickly in case the clouds decided to change direction and started down.
This was a pretty cool photo, I think, of Lonnie signing the summit register.
I took some photos looking back at the route coming up the mountain. The second photo has the radio towers off in the distance.
It was a very pleasant uneventful trip and the sun shone on us the entire day. We all came back to Denver with sunburns on our faces. It started raining on us shortly after we left Buena Vista and didn't stop the entire way home.
Happy Memorial Day – what a great start to summer!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):