| Evans via Spalding with NE Face Descent
Having spent the week in Denver at a financial crimes conference, I refused to head back home to "central time" in Kansas City without first getting in some real "mountain time." After reading Aubrey's trip report from his time on Massive and Elbert the previous weekend, I was ready to head toward Elbert and put to good use the gear I had intentionally brought along with me. Mike Oliver from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Springfield, Missouri and Ed Walker from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock, Arkansas were also ready for the challenge which, upon further deliberation, we decided should be Evans rather than Elbert. For me, this would be a repeat of an August 2008 climb of Evans from Summit Lake via Mount Spalding and Evans' west ridge. Moral of this trip report: repeating a 14er is better than leaving Colorado without doing a 14er at all.
The sky was still overcast and grey when we looked up at Mount Spalding from the Summit Lake trailhead parking lot.
But as we began our ascent up the ridge to Mount Spalding, the sky began to turn blue for us.
The route was completely snow covered, but others had gone before us, making it easy to follow in their tracks and footsteps.
This was Mike's first 14er and he was pleased as we neared the summit of Mount Spalding while the sky had cleared to a bluebird day.
Mike and Ed just below the Spalding summit.
The wind really began to pick up at this point. The gusts, at times, were quite strong and, in my estimate, were in the 30 to 40 mph range.
Mike dropping down from Spalding and into the saddle leading up to Evans' west ridge. I broke out the ice axe here and had a short glissade part way down from the Spalding summit to the saddle.
We were making good time and took a quick food break and looked back at Spalding from across the saddle. Judging by the parallel tracks, it looked like someone had recently been through here in anticipation of a ski descent down one of Evans' couloirs.
Ed and Mike making their way up to Evans' west ridge. The sky had turned a brilliant blue and it was a simply glorious day to be in the mountains. Given that this was Evans on a Friday in June, I was quite surprised we had not encountered anyone else on the peak since leaving the trailhead.
We reached Evans' west ridge above the Sawtooth and took time to look back toward Spalding as well look ahead to the task before us.
Things changed significantly here. First, the clouds had started to build and while not looking threatening, the sky now had our attention. Second, the standard route takes you on a mostly ascending traverse up Evans' west ridge, first to a false summit and then to the summit itself. Although the route had been well kicked in on the snow, the slope angle increased dramatically and the snow had a nice ice crust on top. A misstep here could be deadly or life threatening, especially at the start of the west ridge ascent, where there was literally nothing except an ice-covered snow slope between us and Abyss Lake more than a thousand feet below. Needless to say, the route had our full attention, especially when my new Sigg water bottle decided to pop out of the side pouch of my pack and we watched it slide and careen down the slope to its death below us. Sorry there are not some pictures to help tell the story of our ascent up the west ridge, but my full attention was on the slope and helping my less experienced friends.
We completed the ascending traverse without further incident and could see folks on the summit as we approached it.
We made the summit in time to greet a couple of guys who were just strapping in for a ski descent down the Snave couloir. As we watched them make their descent, Mike and Ed both acknowledged they were tired and experiencing headaches. Fearing that they were in the onset of altitude sickness, and knowing I could make faster time on my own, I volunteered to make a quick descent down the northeast face of Evans, retrieve the car, and come back to get them. They accepted. WhiIe descending the northeast face, I managed to get in a few more glissades, but the snow on this face was quite soft and the slope angle was not near as steep as the west ridge, so I had to tromp down the slope for about half of the descent. I ran into the two skiers as I got close to the car, and they asked me where my two friends were. When I told the skiers I was going to drive up to the top of the road and pick up my buddies, it was no time before the three of us were headed up the road together with the twofold purpose of getting Mike and Ed plus operating the Mount Evans ski lift.
It was a great way to end the week and a perfect way for a flatlander like me to start the summer climbing season. Will be back for more in late July.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):