| Huron Peak, or Postholing 101
After getting in some easy 13ers last weekend I wanted to get my first 14er of the year this weekend. I figured Huron would be a good warmup due to its relative shortness (both trail length and height) and my friend Dan was in for it as well. After reading the trip report from the previous weekend I knew there would still be snow in the basin and so initially planned for a 5:00am start, however as I viewed the weather for the week I realized it wasn't freezing at night and the likelyhood of being able to walk on the snow would be slim no matter when we started, so we decided we could hit the trail a bit later. We left Colorado Springs just after 4:00 and arrived at the trailhead just after 7:00, besides the campers along the road there were two vehicles in the parking lot that had arrived before us. It was my first four-wheeling test of my new Jeep, and it handled it just fine, the stream crossing was only a few inches deep in the morning and to our surprise wasn't significantly deeper when we were leaving shortly after noon.
Driving up to the trailhead, anyone know which mountain is this?
First view of Huron.
We were on the trail by 7:15, and I was greatly disappointed by the sign at the trailhead indicating that hang gliders were not allowed in the area, I've long though that would be the optimal descent for summer climbs, but oh well. Snow banks started appearing about half a mile along, but were for the most part easily avoidable. As we broke treeline Huron came into view for the first time, and we saw some larger, though still avoidable snowfields. As we crested the hill overlooking the true basin we saw it was still covered in snow, and set off across it, hoping between the dry patches. Postholing was the rule here, I probably only managed 20 steps across the entire field that didnt sink in to some extent, knee deep was common, I sank to my waist 2-3 times, it wasn't uncommon to punch through to standing or running water below. My boots and socks got thoroughly soacked, but I was pleased to learn that my new hiking pants (REI Saharas) really were as water proof as they claimed and stayed completely dry. We cut through the snowfield to reach the ridge up past it a bit sooner than the standard summer trail would have taken us, and from what we saw pretty much everyone else that day did as well. We climbed up the ridge a bit and wrung out our socks, then continued on.
Looking back at the basin from the ridge.
Heading up the early part of the ridge to Huron's summit had substantially less snow than the basin, but it was still not completely avoidable and we looked for the shortest snow bridges to pass.
Early part of the ridge.
Once we actually hit the class 2 rock approaching the summit the snow more or less died out, though with the increase in steepness our pace didn't increase that much. The wind also picked up some at this point, but it was warm enough that it wasn't bad. As we ascended the ridge we saw several groups crossing the snowfield below us. Snow was present again just before the summit, but it was still largely rock. I hit the summit just before 10:15 and met fellow 14ers.com members Scanner and Meteor there. Dan arrived a minute later, and they were kind enough to take our picture, confirm our suspicions on the identities of a few nearby peaks as well as pointing out some other ones we hadn't identified. Scanner said the summit register had been destroyed by the moisture, as the summit was still largely covered in snow. The snow also didn't really leave anywhere to sit, so we stayed on the summit for only a couple minutes before heading down, as the cold and still damp boots were making our toes numb.
7th peak down.
Looking south-west-ish. About 1/2 the available bare rock on the summit is visible.
Most of Huron has virutally no exposure, so this little bit at the end did take me by a bit of surprise.
We passed several groups heading up as we went down, I think there were about 20 people total on the mountain that day. I was able to make a couple short glissades on the more extensive snowbanks on the ridge down, but most of the time was spent walking. Once we got back to the basin the trail had been significantly more defined from all the people crossing it, and Dan and I gave Scanner and Meteor some help in further breaking it in for anyone else who wanted to come through. We spent 3 hour going up and only 2 coming down, with at least half an hour being saved in the basin by the better trail. As we had descended the ridge and entered the basin the temperature had increased a fair amount, so even when we did post hole through on the way back it was almost a bit of a refreshment.
The Three Apsotles as we headed back down.
After wringing out our socks again we started down back into the forest, which was fully in the late stages of spring. To our surprise neither the foot stream crossing at the beginning of the trail nor the vehicle one on the 4WD trail had risen significantly, and both were easily crossable. We arrived back at the car almost exaclty 5 hours after we started. 14er number 7 down!
No snow at this point.
Late spring in the Rockies.
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