| A nice day on Mt. Yale... and some good food too!
• Total Distance: 8.75mi
• Elevation Gain 4,300ft
• Trailhead Time: 4:30am
• Summit time: 8:59am (I was a bit later than everyone else)
• Completion Time: 11:30am
• Total Time: 7 hours
More pictures are available here.
Very reasonable day. Temperatures stayed relatively warm – almost summer like. Winds were very calm up to the summit ridge, where it picked up some – but probably never broke 10-15mph. The wind-chill on the summit was cold, but not a problem. Skies were clear until just after we hit treeline. Rain moved in on the area around noon (basically just as we reached the cars, ironically).
Lostsheep5 (Eric) and I had been talking about climbing Yale on the 13th for a number of weeks. In the end, we shifted the schedule around and ended up moving the climb to the 14th. TylerStorm, whom we had met on our 14ers.com climb of Missouri and, later, Mt. Elbert, joind us, along with a aboynamedmargrette (Sam).
I picked up Eric down in the springs on Saturday afternoon, and the two of us made our way up to the trailhead, where we setup what I suppose you could call, "camp." We found Tyler already asleep at 7pm – he somehow manages to sleep lengthwise across the front of his truck. I flattened out the back of my mom's Toyota Matrix and Eric setup a tent in the next parking spot over. Sam rolled in later that night.
Sunset over Cottonwood Pass
After a rainy yet peaceful night, our alarms sounded annoyingly at 3:45, and we proceeded to wake the rest of camp by annoyingly knocking on windows. It didn't take long to get our gear on, headlamps active, and start our ascent.
The trail is very well marked and was pleasantly snow free. Some ice covering a log bridge not far from the trailhead was probably the most treacherous part of the day. At 6:30am, we broke out of treeline to a stunning view of the surrounding peaks.
View from near treeline
We stopped for our first snack break of the morning at 7:15 behind a rock outcropping at 12,700ft. The views of Ice Mountain and The Three Apostles are amazing.
Mt. Princeton on the left, Mt. Antero in the middle with Shavano and Tabeguache in the background.
(Left to Right): Ice Mountain, The Three Apostles, and Huron Peak.
We continued our approach, soon reaching the summit ridge. For the amount of altitude covered in such a small distance, we were pleasantly surprised by our strong process and lack of exhaustion. I had my "scare of the day" while swapping out my hiking pole for my ice axe. My SPOT tracker detached itself from my backpack and landed on a rock above me. After discovering it was gone, I searched downhill for some time, thinking it had slid. Finding it on a rock above me was both a relief and extremely angry.
By this time, the rest of the group had neared the summit, so I grabbed my axe and tried to enjoy myself, following a more technical route to the summit that Eric had kicked-in on the east side of the ridge. About 10 minutes later, and I was planted on the summit.
Tyler making his way up to the summit (photo by Sam)
Our group enjoyed a much needed break, some food, and a summit shot. Temperatures were warm in the wind-protected areas, so we had a chance to actually stop and enjoy the summit – something which I haven't been able to do in a number of climbs (I guess my luck isn't the best).
Tyler, Eric, and I chilling on the summit... literally (photo by Sam)
Wind blows up a snow cloud on Mt. Yale's East Ridge.
Castle and Connundrum on the left, The Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak right of center, and Snowmass on the far right.
Eric on the summit.
Me on the summit.
Kevin8020, Lostsheep5, Aboynamedmargrette, and TylerStorm on the summit of Mt. Yale.
On the way down, we passed some cotton-attired hikers from Nebraska on their way up – one of whom was sporting a nice wooden walking stick that must have weighed 5 pounds… I just hope the afternoon thunderstorms gave them a break. Besides them, we ran into only 2 other groups making their way to the summit. We enjoyed a nice chat with a couple (and their dog) headed for a camping trip in a different area. The hike back was fast paced (Tyler and Sam have a thing for running), yet surprisingly relaxing. Eric and I decided to test the snow out on a glissade in the hard snow, which turned out to be quite enjoyable. One word of caution – avoid using the chin with performing a practice self-arrest – very painful.
Me trying to work my way down the ridge after whacking me knee on a rock... ouch (photo by Sam)
Thanks to the fact that Tyler can't help but talk about hamburgers on the summit, we made a final stop at the world-renown (or it should be) Evergreen Café in Buena Vista. I have never enjoyed a hamburger, French-fries, and onion rings so much in my life. And I'm sure Sam would be remised if I forgot to mention that they definitely serve THE BEST bread pudding in the world. We all agreed…
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):