| Fletcher SE Ridge - fresh snow climb
Trailhead: Blue Lakes
Elevation Gain: 2,200'
Start: 7:40am Summit: 11:30am
Low clouds and wind greeted me at the trailhead. I decided to leave the snowshoes in the truck, as there didn't seem to be a lot of snow to make the extra weight worth it. From the previous trip reports, I did pack my crampons.
Low clouds, starting on the trail:
The first part of the trail involves being whipped in the face by bushes. Not so pleasant, but once past that section, the trail isn't too bad. A little past the mining ruins, the snow starts in larger patches. One couple turned around from post-holing too much and too deep. I decided against going up the ridge, as the wind sounded pretty fierce. I also like to ascend what I will want to glissade on the way down.
There is still plenty of snow left in the upper basin. At least a foot of new snow fell on the upper areas, probably in Saturdays rain we saw on the plains. 8) In a few flat areas snow shoes would have been useful. But the slope is steep enough, I found kicking steps to be easier, if tiring.
Upper basin area:
A grateful guy following my boot steps up to the Quandary-Fletcher connecting ridge. I wish he did have beers to give me for my efforts!:
View of the way ahead:
Saw a few lady bugs on the snow. What are these guys doing?
From a previous trip report, Dave Cooper's Colorado Snow Climbs book, and from my trip up Atlantic, I knew that there were cornices along the ridge. So I stayed away, and chose to climb well onto the SE face of Fletcher. The last section was pretty steep, so I stayed at least 5' away from the edge.
A photo from later in the day, showing my ascending and descending routes:
For the upper section I donned my crampons, and practiced my slow mountaineering rest step, to make sure I had stable footing.
A view of Decalibron from the ridge:
A happy face, glad to have safely avoided the cornices:
Here's a zoom in, showing at least 20+ people on the summit of Quandary:
Grays and Torreys:
Mt of the Holy Cross:
I glissaded down the SE face, off the summit very slowly. Not only to be safe, but because the fresh snow had started melting in the bright sun. In fact it was very difficult to glissade at all!
Back down in the high valley, the impressive ridge off of Drift Peak:
Looking back at Fletcher, before I go down into the lower valley:
I had hoped that lower down, the glissading would get better, but the slush didn't want to let me pass by easily. I had to get a mini sled of snow underneath me to slide, as my boots kept stopping me.
One of my slushy paths:
The last glissade worked much better, as I think it was the steepest and wettest one.
Mining ruins, with Fletcher Mtn in background:
Talked with a few people on the way down, who had attempted the west ridge of Quandary and turned back, and one who had wanted to attempt Fletcher but got on the wrong path a few times. One took my photo, so that this report wouldn't be all scenery
Zooming in on the summit, one last time. Had the mountain all to my self, amazing!
And what would a trip to this area be without goats?
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):