A hike to the moors of Scotland?
Venable Peak loop
Venable Peak 13,334
Comanche Peak 13,277
Spring Mountain 13,244
Stats ~15 miles ~5500 ft
With a 50% chance of rain I knew we would be rained on at some point during the day. We left the TH at 5:45 and headed up the Comanche Peak trail which climbs steadily 5 miles to the pass. It was sunny and warm during our ascent of Comanche Peak. We reached the top at 8:20, we made excellent time. The weather looked like it would hold for our complete traverse. By the time we left the summit visibility had dropped to near zero as clouds rushed in from the west. Still, it was not threatening.
The clouds come in
Spring Mountain: Blindly following the ridge
Luckily the route to Spring Mountain was very straight forward and would hold no surprises. It was an easy class 2 walk in the clouds. I seem to be making a habit of climbing peaks in the clouds this year. As my climb of Mount Logan, and Katana Mountain in June were in the clouds. Just the week before I hiked Columbia in the clouds as well as Middle Mountain and Point 13460. There was one surprise, the summit, we just arrived at the summit, no false summits for once.
Ben, Is this Scotland?
Blue sky teases us on Spring Mountain
Venable Peak: Still in the clouds
The ridge off of Spring is still pretty easy class 2 with some more options for minor scrambling. As we crossed the trail we admired the Phantom Terrace. If we didn't have to summit Venable it would have been a fun hike. As we were still socked in it took what seemed like a while to get to the summit. Once on the summit the clouds played more tricks with us, clearing up only to cloud up again.
The traverse from Spring to Venable
Typical terrain on the entire traverse
Ben nearing the summit of Venable
12873: It clears up!
The ridge north of Venable is steep but still class 2. By the time we reached Venable Pass it had cleared up and I could see what was really building. It looked like we would have time to finish the loop and get into the trees before any rain. At Venable pass we decided to climb directly over the minor 13,012 point. We chose a class 3 way to climb this small summit. The ridge from 13,012 ro 12,873 proved to be the most interesting of the day with plenty of minor scrambling options. 12,873 has an excellent view of the Wet Mountains and of the traverse we had just completed. One look at the clouds told me to get down to Venable lakes quickly.
Optional Scrambling on 13,012
Most of our Traverse
Venable Trail: Skipping rocks and bears
We descended the steep slopes above Venable Lake and took a short brake to skip the perfectly shaped rocks across the lake until it started to rain. Once the rain started we made haste down the trail to get more protected. It rained lightly for our hour and a half return trip on the trail, but there was never any lightening. While walking down we discussed how I had never seen a bear while hiking in 5 years of summiting Colorado peaks. Not 15 minutes later we see a young bear, weighing about 200 lbs cross the trail. Neat.
I spent way too much time trying to take an action shot
Snakes live at tree line
The bear didn't like the flash
For a day with such a high probability of precipitation I was very pleased with what we climbed. Now if the monsoon season could end and allow me to make those RMNP traverses I've been waiting to do all summer.