| Solstice Weekend on Calibron Ridge
Solstice Weekend on Calibron Ridge
Initially I didn't think there were enough decent photos for a TR this go-round.
Using a handheld camera (no tripod) in the high winds and cooler temps made it difficult,
and both partners' cameras quit working after two or three shots. It wasn't one of those
relaxed days to enjoy photographic art; we pretty much had to stick to the climbing.
But in looking these over, and working them a little, a mini-TR started to emerge.
Here it is, for those that might want to take this excellent, and apparently little-traveled
approach. Thanks to Sgladbach for suggesting this route as a relatively safer
alternative to the standard Kite Lake approach in winter. Once again Steve's sage advice
proves 100% reliable, right down to the plowed TH.
Our approach was via the Moose Creek TH. We had little trouble breaking fresh trail
through the trees for a short distance to emerge in the Moose Creek drainage,
where we had a view of our choice of two east-facing routes up Mt. Bross. We chose the left
for our ascent. Note that the summer approach for this route is the Mineral TH,
which is not plowed in winter. Credit for the correct winter TH information with the
cut south through the trees, goes once again to Sgladbach.
Initially I thought this was going to be a solo trip, but having bumped into Jeff on Pikes
Peak last month, snowboard in hand, after he'd just made some turns down from Devil's
Playground, we had decided we'd do a climb sometime. A solstice stroll across
the Calibron Ridge sounded just fine to him.
Jeff introduced me to Brady, a true gentleman of a fellow, who was stoked to do his first
winter 14er ascent; or more properly, his first three winter 14er ascents, that day.
As a commercial jet pilot, Brady gets to see all the Colorado mountains from the air, on a
regular basis. A guy could do very well to know a friend like Brady. Brady has lots of
inside information. And Brady has been at a lot higher altitude a lot more often than
most of us.
Seriously, Brady turned in an impressive performance for his first winter trip up a 14er.
Even though we were battered with some of the highest gusts any of us had seen,
likely in excess of 80 mph, Brady handled the turbulence with aplomb.
Though avalanche forecasts were serious for most of Colorado this week,
our route was relatively wind-scoured, and presented little danger.
Here's an example of what the east approach up Bross looks like right now.
The Bross summit was nearly completely dry.
The saddle between Bross and Cameron was gorgeous, as were the views in every direction.
Democrat from the Calibron Ridge.
The Cali Ridge, with Democrat in the background:
We were really happy to get the camera to stay on the rock long enough to shoot the photo!
This was our third try to get this shot!
Lincoln presents a fun, photogenic summit ridge.
Here's Brady gazing toward "home." (Pikes Peak.)
Coming off Lincoln:
Sometimes the wind would relax and would even quit altogether. Generally speaking,
though, the afternoon was much worse than the morning, with the weak high pressure
moving in, and although these high winds were not in the forecast, we estimated afternoon
gusts in excess of 80 mph.
Sustained winds in the afternoon reached an easy 30-40 mph.
Here we see Jeff demonstrating this concept. Jeff Prepares for Takeoff
Winds were bad enough that one gust required a drop to hands and knees in the saddle between Cameron and Bross on the return.
At one point I began to question returning over Bross in these high winds. However, we were nearly there by then,
and the summit was quite flat and devoid of snow, so there was no exposure to complicate the wind hazard.
The WNW wind lashed at our backs all the way down the east aspect that afternoon, though its potent power
had been considerably diluted in the shadow of Mt. Bross.
Below treeline, Jeff and Brady exclaimed that it was "heaven," noting the subalpine calm, and the warm afternoon
that was going on down here, while we had been up top trying to keep the rubber side down. Having enjoyed a relaxed
start time (9am), we not only got to sleep the night before, but we got to return in that wonderful late-afternoon sun.
Colorado Heaven on Snowshoes
Total trip time, car to car, was 6.5 hours. We stayed roughly one hour, total, on the three summits.
Snowshoes were only needed for the first 1/2 mile; the rest of the route went in boots and poles (and microspikes in my case.)
Thanks to Jeff and Brady for making this a fun trip. And thanks once again to Sgladbach for the excellent suggestion on the winter approach.
On this weekend between New Moon and Solstice, Collegially,
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):