Being visible from most areas of the front range, North & South Arapaho peaks had always appealed to me. I finally decided to give them a shot on Tuesday, 7/13/10. Here is a pic of the peaks from the roof of my building in Denver:
They are left of center above the City/County building
I arrived at the 4th of July trailhead (el. 10,120) and hit the Arapaho Pass trail at about 7AM. The mellow trail slowly rises through the forest and is very scenic. You are immediately treated to a beautiful cascading waterfall on the other side of the valley.
There are numerous stream crossings and lots a wildflowers along the way.
As you begin approaching treeline, the views open up and are dominated by Mt. Jasper (12,963) and Mt. Neva (12,814).
Jasper far left and Neva far right
After about an hour, I reached the Arapaho Glacier trail junction and 4th of July mine. There is some abandoned mining equipment still there from long ago.
Skywalker Couloir from 4th of July mine
From here, the trail begins to gain elevation much faster as you switchback repeatedly up towards the 12,700 foot saddle between S. Arapaho and Old Baldy (13,038). Once at the saddle, the rest of the climb comes into view. The final pitch towards the summit is much steeper, but it still just easy rock hopping.
Remaining climb up S. Arapaho
I reached the summit of S. Arapaho at about 9:30. The weather could not have been better (excluding the wind), and the views were spectacular.
Jasper & Neva
Traverse to N. Arapaho
The traverse was to be my first experience with actual scrambling/climbing, and I was eager to get started. The wind was absolutely brutal for most of the traverse. At first, it was easy to follow the orange arrows painted on the rocks, but after the crux, I eventually couldn't find any more of them and had to do a bit of route finding.
Climbing is fun
At one point, an arrow pointed me through a small notch only to find a 10-15ft cliff to downclimb. That was interesting.
N. Arapaho from through a notch just prior to steep downclimb
I eventually found the final gully to climb which left me just a short walk to the summit.
Final gully climb to summit
The huge wind shelter up there was such a relief.
It took me about an hour to complete the traverse, and I spent some time relaxing in the sun at the summit. Some summit pics:
Longs & Meeker
Lake Granby, etc.
Looking back to S. Arapaho
Evans in the distance
The return trip was uneventful, and at this point, I was ready to get out of the wind and back down to the car. I finally started seeing some people on the return trip on the Arapaho Pass trail, and by the time I reached the parking lot at 1:45, it was absolutely packed. It was a real surprise considering I hadn't seen anyone for hours.