Trailhead; Guanella Pass to Mt Evans W. Ridge
Route; Gomer's Gully – Stopped at Spalding Saddle
Date Climbed – 7/29/10
Climbed With - Solo
Length; 8-10 Miles
Elev. Gain; 2,100
Time; 7.5 hrs
I haven't posted here for a while since for the last couple of summers things just haven't worked out to get a lot of hiking in. This summer I made a commitment to get back up in the mountains more and have been working back toward the 14'er peaks again.
Decided to take a couple of days off last week and picked out a target of Mt Evans via the W. Ridge route from Guanella pass. The weekend before I prepped by doing the Shadow Canyon route up Bear Peak then descended the W. Ridge back to Bear Canyon and thought I was ready to go.
After watching the weather I picked Thursday the 29th as the day and left the house early that morning to be at the trailhead around 6:00. Going around the Grant route to the pass took a little longer than I thought and I left the trailhead at 6:20. In one of the better decisions of the day, I wore a pair of old hiking boots and given what they looked like at the end of the day I was glad I did.
Looking Back Across the Willows
After crossing Scott Gomer creek I made a left turn at the first big boulder and found what looked like a trail heading into the willows. Like most trails I found in the willows, this one was short lived and I did a lot of willow bashing finding my way through toward the end of the ridge you are trying to go around. Being slightly brain damaged, the fact that it had rained the afternoon before never crossed my mind until about 30 seconds into the willows and by then I was soaked. A brief self talk about the wisdom that would have been displayed by putting on rain gear followed , but the damage was already done so on through the willows I went. I did find a trail of sorts high on the end of the ridge that avoided some of the worst of the marsh but it still had its moments.
View of the Sawtooth from Route
Crossing the basin toward the gully provided some great views of the Sawtooth and a couple of small waterfalls. Starting up the gully I found the scree and rocks to be very loose, a good place to practice keeping three points of contact while moving up. I don't know what the incline is for the gully but it was plenty steep for me!
Starting up the Gully
Part Way Up - Still work to be done!
Looking down the gully
After a much longer time than I had anticipated I finally came out of the top part of the gully and could see the end of Mt Evan's W. Ridge to my right. Unfortunately I was already ˝ hr behind the time I had hoped to be on the summit. With around a mile and 5-700 ft of elevation gain to go I knew that the summit would be 45 minutes to an hour away for me. Looking at the clouds building to the South and gauging my physical condition, I decided that it was time to turn around.
View down the gully from the top portion
First view of Evan's W. Ridge
W. Ridge from Spalding/Evan's Saddle
Not having a lot of desire for descending the gully after just getting out of it, I stopped at the Spalding/Evan's saddle for a few minutes to rest and used my topo map to pick out an alternate descent route. At 10:50 I headed back down by traversing the slopes of Mt Spalding around toward the North. After doing some further research after getting back, I probably went further north than I needed to but ended up with a nice descent of Mt Spalding's slope into the Grey Wolf/Spalding drainage.
Contouring around Mt Spalding's slopes
Crossing the dry stream bed I stayed on the west side of the creek and worked my way down the tundra back toward the pass. I found the trail (or a least "a" trail) that drops off the head wall down toward the marshes on the N. side of Guanella pass. About this time the clouds parted and it rained on me the rest of the way. As has been stated in a couple of threads I have since found on this site, this trail is very difficult to follow, at times it is plain and in others exceedingly faint. I found myself looking for bent grass blades in spots to try and determine which way it went. Somewhere I missed a bend in the trail and ended up slogging back through the marsh and willows eventually coming out just below the parking area, making it back to my car at 1:50 pm.
Looking back up at the descent route down Mt Spalding
So to summarize, I didn't reach my goal of the summit of Mt Evan's but still consider it a good day in the mountains. I challenged myself with a route that was considerably more difficult than the standard trails I have used before and made it safely. Given my physical state and the weather I would make the turn around decision again. Had the opportunity to enjoy some of our beautiful Colorado mountain scenery and even got to practice my marsh walking- not something you get to do every day!