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 Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
 Post Date:  06/03/2010 Modified: 06/08/2010
 Date Climbed:   06/01/2010
 Posted By:  Nelson

 Finishing the Front range.   


Finishing the Front Range.



After a month fishing in the Keys I headed west to finish my final assault on the Colorado 14ers. I spent a few days getting everything together in Sandy and skiing in the Wasatch to get acclimatized. On May 30th I left home at 4am and drove 8 hours to the Longs Peak trailhead. I checked in with the Ranger station Image , paid my 20 bucks for camping and headed up to the Boulder Field Image Image . This is about a 6 mile walk gaining 3300 feet with a 40 lbs. pack. There was variable snow on the trail after the first half mile and the going was slow. I only post holed a few times but it took me over 4 hours to get there. I set up camp in the prepared campsites at 12,700 feet and to my great surprise found running water right there Image . I heard it as I was walking and had to dig down about a foot under the snow to find it. That night the winds started to kick up and blew at about 30 mph all night. It was noisy but I was grateful to be behind the protective walls of the prepared site.

I awoke at 4:30 am and headed up at 5:30am after a hearty breakfast of oatmeal. Image I put my crampons on at the tent so I wouldn't have to do this in the wind tunnel at the Keyhole. This proved to be wise as it was nuking at the Keyhole. Image I estimate there it was a sustained 50 mph. From here on it was a full on serious snow climb. Image The first section is called the Ledges and this was the crux of the climb. The snow was of various depths on rock slab and the footing was unsure in places. I could see where people had slipped before me and I was very precise with my foot and ax placement. I was very happy to get to the Trough which is a fairly simple 600 ft. vertical climb at the top of which you go around a corner and come onto "The Narrows" Image .I had been worried about this but it was one of the most benign sections of the climb. There was very little snow here. When I got to the "Homestretch" Image the wind was a sustained 30-40 mph and gusting well above 50. Although the ambient temperature was warm (probably low 30's) I climbed the whole way in my goretex and my water was freezing in the nalgenes. I saw a fellow Utahn (Robert from Ogden) climbing in his down. The Homestretch went quick with the firm snow and I spent about 30 seconds on the summit (8am arrival). Image Going down was uneventful. Image I passed several parties, about half of whom turned around because of the wind.

I jumped in the car and headed for Grant to spend the night and have the traditional burger and brew. All I'll say about accommadations and food in this area is that they are "unpretentious". In the morning I headed up to Guanella Pass for a go at Bierstadt and Evans via the Sawtooth. This was a glorious day with very little wind. Image I cruised the hike up to Bierstadt in about 2 ˝ hours Image and was feeling surprisingly good after the 2 previous days as I put my crampons on to do the Sawtooth section. This begins with a 700 ft. descent normally scrambling down over rock. Image I thought I could do it faster by descending on snow but after the first 100 ft. I began to worry about the steepness and the fact that the sun had been on the snow for a couple of hours. Image I climbed back up to the summit and took the mixed rock and snow route down. It was slower but much safer. Climbing up to the notch was longer than I thought Image and I left my crampons on so it probably took a bit longer. From here you go through the notch and climb up an exposed ledge up to the western ridge of Evans. Image Here I was happy to have the crampons on. I don't think they are absolutely necessary but they gave me options in route choice and a feeling of security. The hike to Evans was a little further than I thought (about 1.5 miles) but it was well cairned and a cruise. Image At this point I was tired but feeling well within myself. I started back down the west ridge and had a little trouble finding the chute which leads back to Guanella. This cost me a little time but was nothing compared to the postholing on the soft snow in the chute. As everyone knows this is followed by a 2.5 mile trial by Willows and Mud. This is the bushwhack from hell. All I'll say is I used words I hadn't used since my Marine Corps days some 40+ years ago.

This part of the trip has been an absolute delight. I headed immediately to meet my family in Telluride and have some good food and a rest before attempting El Diente. I should also mention that, on advice from my personal fitness consultant, Lars, I have been taking the Endurance 1 recovery drink and this helped me through a very demanding 3 days. Lars pretends to be a business man but he is really a physical fitness expert.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
kansas climber


Camping @ Boulderfield     2010-06-18 14:23:18
I have a question about boulder field camping do most people leave their tents bags and mats at the campsite while they summit? or do they pack it up and bring it with them to the summit?


Nelson


Camping in the Boulder Field     2010-06-18 16:04:50
I think everyone does what I did and leaves everything at the campsite in the Boulder Field that they will not need on the climb. They actually have old ammo boxes there so you can put all food stuffs and anything that might attract Marmots, e.g. toothpaste, sweaty clothes etc.



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