| Navajo Peak via Airplane Gully
Route: Airplane Gully, summit via class 3/4 chimney in east/southeast face
Navajo Peak is the cone shaped summit on the left, Apache Peak center back and Shoshoni right front. From Lake Isabelle.
I really love the Indian Peaks Wilderness this time of year, the wildflowers are in bloom, there are still snowfields to frame the glaciated peaks and supply beautiful streams but the standard routes are melted out and the rock is usually enjoyable for some scrambling routes.
Navajo Peak caught my eye last summer while climbing the class 3 east face of Shoshoni, a really fun route on a wonderful mountain in it's own right. The cylindrical cone of Navajo, although not as visually imposing as Shoshoni or Apache from Lake Isabelle, is visually attractive to climbers as a potentially interesting little summit. It certainly was for me.
We followed the route for the Airplane Gully described in Gerry Roach's Colorado's Indian Peaks: Classic Hikes and Climbs. The approach from the Long Lake Trailhead to Lake Isabelle is simple and the turnoff for the Isabelle Glacier trail is well marked, follow this trail around the lake and through often muddy sections to a small lake above 11,000, this is where the real approach to Navajo begins.
The general route we took to gain the basin below Airplane Gully, this avoided most of the loose or large boulders in the middle of this approach southwest from the lake.
Airplane Gully, loose in places but was not that bad.
Head up the southeast face, faint climbers trail is present for much of this route.
The class 3 ledge route in the Roach book was not that apparent to us and the chimney seemed like a fun challenge to gain the summit, you top out just a few steps from the summit.
Navajo was my first IPW 13er and my second IPW summit and the area is certainly becoming a favorite of mine for summer scrambling. The trails may be crowded but the summits rarely are.
(Do note that there is an entrance fee of $9 on the Brainard Lake road. Did we get our $9 worth? At least in terms of views and effort we did, or we used that idea to make us feel better about the fee. And get there early, the Long Lake TH parking was full at 7:00.)
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