"You come here looking for the ride to glory, go back home with a hard-luck story" - Elvis Costello, Radio Sweetheart
I've had Mount Antero near the top of my list for quite some time. Those of you who have slogged up the standard route probably cannot imagine how that could happen unless it were one of my last few. However, I was toying around on the site one day and came across this thread:
Which described a rarely-used route departing from Raspberry Gulch. Being a fan of non-traditional routes, and also a fan of loop hikes, my plan was to ascend via this route, then descend along the Little Browns Creek trail.
I even had a Friday off from work! Two consecutive Fridays, actually - last Friday, there was a 60% chance of thunderstorms on Antero, so I went for Mount Evans instead. Today - no rain anywhere in the forecast. Why is that? Partly because of the 30-35 mph sustained winds in the forecast (with gusts up to 50mph). Surely it couldn't be that bad! But it is Friday the 13th, so...
(Before you go further, Wish I lived in CO happened to post a trip report of this very route while I was hiking it! Talk about your coincidences - one of the reasons I was looking forward to writing this up was because there hadn't been a trip report for this route in four years. Well, Wish's report kicks my report's ass, in terms of details as well as in terms of the fact that he actually summitted. I exhort you to read his report first:
Instead of my eighteenth fourteener summit, here's what actually happened to me:
I made the drive all the way to the road closure in my Ford Ranger, without using 4wd (except to back into my parking spot). The fact that it was dark likely helped, because on the drive back to US-285, I realized that you'd probably want 4wd here - and a high-clearance vehicle (or a bold driving strategy). I didn't bottom out once on the drive up, but hit the ground thrice on the return.
Anyhow, my Friday the 13th adventure began at 6:10 with a continuation along the now-closed road.
The road takes a turn to the right, up the hill to the saddle between Raspberry Mountain and the long eastern extension of Antero. Upon reaching the saddle, the hiker should take a sharp left up the very steep ridge. How steep?
It's consistently like that until you gain the ridge itself (and although I tried my best, the picture doesn't really convey the steepness).
Once you're on the ridge, you must dodge trees, bushes, and loose rocks as you gain elevation to treeline. Your reward? A pretty nice view of the Arkansas Valley:
Mount Princeton to the north:
From here, you can essentially see the entire route ahead. Skirt all summits to climber's left, but continue to ascend. Once the grass ends, it's loose talus. At this point, it's getting exceptionally windy.
And a look into Raspberry Gulch itself:
Since there's no summit photo in this trip report, this is the "money shot" - on the saddle between Point 13,105 and Point 13,888, a rare angle of Mount Antero:
The next step - to ascend diagonally up (on climber's left of the ridge) to Point 13,888:
Unfortunately, I would not be taking that journey for very long. The winds had been getting progressively worse and worse. I was starting to rue the fact that I had no goggles (only sunglasses), and was starting to decide how I would get back to Denver if I lost a contact lens (my vision is 20/700 in one eye and 20/850 in the other). As it turns out, that wasn't a problem.
The problem was that, as I crossed from one piece of talus to the next, the wind picked me up (or so it felt), and I tumbled about fifteen feet down the hill. Fortunately, all injuries were cosmetic (although my left knee is somewhat swollen), but it looks pretty gruesome (photo not available )
The thought of being on the ridge between Point 13,888 and Mount Antero, especially with a less-than-fully-functional left leg, gave me pause, and I started to look for a good way down. My solution? Contour around to the south side of Raspberry Gulch, and descend into the drainage towards the trailhead:
Plus it would give me a chance to take some photos of the Raspberry Gulch route from a different vantage. A look back at Point 13,105:
Here's the Raspberry Gulch route. Raspberry Mountain is at far right, and the hiker ascends the saddle just to the left. Then, the hiker rides the ridgetops (going to hiker's left where appropriate):
My descent route looks to be used by more than a few people to climb Antero. There were several distinct (although faint) trails. If one were to ascend in this fashion, here is what Point 13,888 would look like:
It actually looks like that even if one weren't to ascend in this fashion. Go figure.
The saddle between Mount Antero and Mount White. It looks like this descent (per my original plan) would have been quite comfortable.
Instead, I decided to stay on the ridge:
And then drop into one of the drainage gullies towards the Gulch. This descent route was steeper than the ascent route described earlier:
I really shouldn't describe any more of my descent towards the trailhead, lest some fool decide that it's possible. Keep in mind that I, myself, am a fool, and that the alternate title of this trip report was going to be:
"If a Tree Falls in the Forest, and No One Hears, Will It End Up in Doctor No's Descent Gully?"
Here's just one example:
Once you get down to the creek itself, things aren't much better. I'm surprised that there's no trail up into the Gulch itself (not even a faint one). It was more fallen logs, rough bramble, and slick rocks:
But eventually, I made it. Some post-hike photos:
Mount Princeton from CR-270:
Just south of Nathrop, I finally got a modicum of proof as to just how windy it was today:
Mount Princeton from just west of Buena Vista:
Mount Antero from just west of Buena Vista:
Anyhow, I did not summit, but I lived to climb another day. Hopefully this report is useful to someone!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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