| Alpine Loop-alooza: 3 of 3
"Failed attempt on Jones Mountain, yet successfully survived"
Whenever someone isn't successful on a climb (due to bad weather/conditions, lack of gear/skills, fear, etc.), people often say, "The mountain will always be there." But that assumes you'll want to go back and give it another shot.
I doubt I'll ever want to retry Jones Mountain. And, thankfully, I'm not out to climb all the Centennial 13ers, otherwise this would be a problem.
After hitting snooze three times I contemplated the fourth. For some reason Jen and I had a hard time getting up. Perhaps all the climbing, 4x4ing and drinking over the previous few days was finally catching up to us.
My stomach wasn't feeling so great, either, which made me wonder about the meat in those meatballs I ate at the Cannibal Grill the night before. So I kept my breakfast simple: a few crackers, two Ibuprofens and two Peptos.
We started up the rough 4WD road before dawn (the off road lights came in very handy for the third day in a row):
Just before sunrise we pulled into the empty Cuba Gulch Trailhead parking area. It didn't look like it gets a lot of traffic.
Even though we parked at the Cuba Gulch Trailhead, we were headed up the Snare Gulch road, which is now permanently closed. From what I've read, it was closed because too many trucks rolled off the road and/or it was just too difficult to maintain.
As we hiked up the road we had to hurdle many fallen trees:
Avalanche aftermath (surprisingly, some of the aspens survived, and now they just live a horizontal life):
This ginormous fallen tree had a massive root system that was just another obstacle in our way:
Not far up the road we encountered our first big pitch up the mountain known as the Snare Stairs -- 12 switchbacks up a steep, talus slope.
I wondered what happened to the driver of this bulldozer/snowplow:
This curious cabin above the Snare Stairs was full of marmot poop:
If you're jonesin' for solitude, then Jones is your mountain. We had the whole basin to ourselves.
A look back down the valley:
Flooded mine at 12,000'; this is where we left the "road" and started bushwhacking up the undulating slope:
A look at our objective:
Getting closer to the saddle:
Some easy snow we had to contend with:
The menacing route before us (true summit in the back):
View of Burns Gulch from the Jones-American saddle:
Above the saddle things became a bit dicey. There was a faint trail, if you can call it a trail, but the rock was horrible. I had to test at least four holds for every one I could find that was just solid enough to hang on or step on.
As we climbed, we tried to stay in the sweet spot between the loose crap on the left and the exposed, thousand-foot cliff on the right.
The rock at 13,450' on Jones Mountain's northeast ridge was much worse than anything I've experienced before. It was even worse than the rotten rock on the Bells and Pyramid, in my opinion.
And so, three hours into our climb, I tapped out. It was no longer fun enough to warrant the risk, and it was just too sketchy for my taste. Jen had similar feelings.
We took it very slow down that steep, exposed and rotten slope:
As we climbed down off the ridge I noticed a couple climbers on American Peak. It looked like they were climbing the ridge to Jones. I looked back often, but I lost them somewhere around the Jones-American saddle. Hopefully they made it OK.
Some pics of our descent:
Looking down on one section of the Snare Stairs:
As usual, hiking down was much faster than going up. We made it from the ridge to the trailhead in just about two hours.
Back at the trailhead (truck lower-right):
Upper portion of our route:
Jen and I were both fine with this failed attempt. After all, we got in a great hike up a beautiful basin to a scenic ridge. I'm also not out to conquer the world and I've learned to be humble. Besides, there are plenty of other mountains out there just waiting to be climbed. And I'll bet most of them have better rock.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):