Chicagoans on Mt. Lindsey - Conquering the North Face
What an exciting hike (and drive) it is on Mt. Lindsey. This is one of the more secluded 14ers in that it is quite a distance to anything civilized. The drive from Gardner (Which is itself a very small town) is 22 miles. We ended up grabbing 2/3 lb. burgers at Gunny's Grill in Gardner (fantastic food and service) at about 7:30pm (after hiking Crestone Peak in the morning/afternoon) and drove into the Lindsey trailhead (Lily Lake). It was a beautiful drive and as we got farther in there it progressively got darker. We'd heard the road got a little rougher as we drove along, but having driven the South Colony road earlier in the day this road was a delight to the very end. It was o-dark-hundred when we reached the Lily Lake trailhead and we ran into a pair of hunter-types coming up the trail in the dark. They said they'd seen a mother bear and cub down in the big meadow just down the trail. Given the dark and bear-like conditions we decided (three of us) to sleep in our Dodge Durango.
After a not-so-comfy night we hit the trail around 6am. What a pleasant hike. The meadow was awesome, the views of the Blanca group were awesome. The trail-finding was not so great. As you hike through the forest sections you will often find split trails, if you're lucky, they end up coming together again 100 feet down the road. One key we found (and have heard elsewhere) is not to ascend to early. There is a boulder field you want to hike past and you end up ascending in a drainage with a small stream running through it. If you see the mine at 11500 you're on the right path. The basin above the initial 800 feet of hiking was spectacular. If you could find a good water source up there this would be a great place to camp a few days.
The weather was perfect for this hike, almost too perfect given the amount of sun we were taking on. We only ran into 4 or 5 groups on the trail and so we were often hiking only with the joys of the wilderness.
We decided to hike the north face (Standard) route. While we've done hikes like the Crestones, Little Bear, and Pyramid, we still avoid exposure when we can. Hiking the initial gully was not all that bad. We mostly stayed on the rocks to the right which made for some easy scrambling.
At the top of the notch we did some creative route-finding. We apparently did not read the route description photos as well as we should have. We were also at this point with another gentleman (who had two amazing dogs with him) who had been up here 5 years ago. He didn't quite know the correct route either. He went straight up (vertically) from the notch which is a very steep climb. We ended up following him. This route, while very steep and somewhat exposed did gain the summit ridge, leaving a very easy climb to the end. In the pictures I have below I show what we did wrong in terms of following the standard route.
Once you gain the summit ridge, there is the large false summit, but an easy hike from there.
PICTURES / VIDEOS:
On my 14er hikes I use a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet with bluetooth GPS to create a GPX track. There is an amazing program called Maemo Mapper that facilitates this. I have overlayed the GPX track file into Google Earth and taken some snapshots of our path. Here is a look to the south from the trailhead (includes Blanca in the background).
Fantastic morning view over the Lily Lake TH meadow, with Blanca Peak poking its head out in the sun. The "tip" of the Iron Nipple is also just getting into the sun.
Fantastic views of Blanca and Ellingwood (right of center) with the trees silhouetted.
This is around 11200 on the steep climb up from Clear Creek. The first 500 feet or so of this climb through the trees is very steep, after that it flattens out just a bit while still climbing.
From the Iron Nipple/Lindsey saddle. You can see that the snow is completely clear of the north face gulley. (as of 8/2/2009)
This is a view of our GPX track from the Lindsey/Iron Nipple Saddle. You can see as the blue track diverts to the right up to the ridge where we left the standard route. Isn‘t it amazing how similar this Google Earth image looks to the previous photo I shared??
This is another GPX track view now looking down upon the entire summit area of Lindsey.
This shot is taken from the notch at the top of the north face gulley. When you're standing in the notch if you turn to your right and then look straight up this is what you see. My group and the other gentleman with the two dogs (who was a real great guy, apparently his dogs have done the Crestones and several other peaks) ascended this very steep slope up to the summit ridge. Later we figured out we were supposed to head left.
From the summit of Lindsey looking at Little Bear, Blanca, and Ellingwood. What a sight!
This is my group: myself, my brother, and my father. The gentleman with the two dogs shot this for us, he did a great job of framing Blanca just above my brother's helmet.
This video is a 360 panoramic taken from the summit of Lindsey.
This shot is taken on the way down. When you leave Lindsey's summit you hike a short distance along the summit ridge towards the false summit. Just before the false summit a trail starts traversing down. This pic is taken from just below that spot. From there you can start to descend down a steep scree gully. That is the direction the green arrow points. We ended up leaving this gully early and traverse back to the summit ridge. We saw 2 other groups descend this gully and followed the "Trail". There were enough dirt patches that you could reasonably follow the standard route below here.
This shot is taken from the notch above the north face gully again. When you're in the notch this new gully in front of you descends in a bowl-shape for like 20 feet and then ascends up steeply again where you see the reddish dirt on the left side of this photo. Apparently you need to traverse this gully to stay on the standard route on the ascent either by following the dirt down then up, or by traversing the rocks.
This video gives a live look at the north face gully.
On our descent we saw this amazing Columbine growing on the top of a massive 15 foot-wide boulder. This is one of those beauty triumphing over adversity sort of things.
We just loved that amazing meadow a quarter mile from the Lily Lake trailhead
With Lindsey completed I'm up to #34 and we have completed all of the Sangres. What an amazing range. Who wouldn't want to buy a house in Westcliffe or one of these other great towns.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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