| 3rd class on Lindsey
My husband and I set off from Denver on Friday afternoon at 4:00pm and headed down to Huerfano valley. Got to the TH right at dark and quickly set up in the back of the truck to go to sleep.
We were awakened at 5 by other hikers heading up the trail. At that point we slowly got going. We've both been sick with chest colds so we were both coughing all night. Waking up was not easy. We weren't too worried about timing since we figured we were a lot faster at hiking now, especially since I had been training for Pike's Ascent coming up next weekend. So with the chance of storms slim we were on trail by 6:30am. View of Blanca as you enter the first opening of the trees.
About a ˝ mile in you encounter the big river crossing which in the past as baffled us each time. We could never figure out where to cross and where the trail continued. However this time after studying the pictures in the route description and seeing that someone had put logs out across the river showing where to cross we easily made it with some minor wetness on our shoes. We were fully prepared with a towel and all to take off our shoes and cross with crocs on. We were glad that we didn't have to go through all the trouble. After the river crossing we also noticed the trail seemed a lot more defined. There were definitely more cairns than 2 years ago. There were some downed trees in the trail that may throw some people off, but it is pretty obvious. The trail gets very steep through the trees to timberline and the trail crosses the river again in a gully shortly before timberline. That river crossing is over boulders though, with no chance of falling in.
As you enter timberline, you are greeted by a gorgeous valley with Blanca, Ellingwood, Lindsey, and Iron Nipple surrounding you.
You cross the valley and make the slog up to the saddle between Lindsey and Iron Nipple. With chest colds, a cold gusty wind, and no gloves (we or I forgot them…oops!), it was kind of miserable, but the purity and beauty of the valley made up for the misery.
As you approach the saddle the wind picks up and someone has built up some rocks to hide behind. It was a nice reprieve as we looked at the challenges ahead!
So with determination we went forward up Lindsey's North face. The first time up here we did it with snow in the gully and it made for an easy approach through the gully. This time there was no snow and we knew we were in for my most unfavorite climbing.. loose class 2+ rock! I tried to either stay right or left of the loose scree and talus, but there were a few times you couldn't avoid it. I would have climbed the class 3 stuff, but it was hard to tell how I would have made it to the top of the gully if I had stayed really far right. So slowly we got to the top of the gully with a few class 3 moves anyway.
So at the top of the gully we looked ahead at the rest of the class 2 + route and then looked right to a class 3 route up to the ridge. We saw a couple (who we later met up with) on the loose class 2 + route and then we saw an older guy motoring up the class 3 to the right of us. Christian said he wanted to do what the route said, but I looked at the steep loose class 2+ section ahead and then again at the class 3 section with solid rock and said I am going that way. "I absolutely don't want to climb that loose crummy rock." So we climbed the class 3 section.
From here the pics are all of the down climbing so I apologize for not getting better ones, but I firmly believe we made the right decision. There was some exposure and it was steep, but there were plenty of foot and hand holds along this route and we weren't the only ones doing this. We made it to the ridge safely without incident and climbed the rest of the ridge which was only class 2 to the summit. The ridge was super windy and a few times I thought I was going to get blown off, I grabbed onto rock several times. Also there is one false summit that will disappoint you if you don't know about it going this way.
Me on the Ridge
Pictures from the top.
We sat on top for about 20 minutes by ourselves when the couple ahead of us that had taken the looser route showed up. Ed and Robin hung out with us for a while and we chatted about 14ers and the routes we each had chosen. Robin didn't like the loose stuff and I had to agree with her. We offered to take them down the class 3 section that we had come up and they took us up on it. It was so nice to have another couple with us and they were good company. Also Robin hadn't done any class 3 stuff and I was excited to be able to help her down. The weather continued to stay absolutely clear and gorgeous with the only disturbance being the 50 mph wind with gusts slightly higher. We were appreciative everytime we were able to duck behind the ridge and get out of it. Christian led us back down the Northwest ridge to where the cairns were to hit the class 3 down climbing section.
There were a few times that I thought we should have dropped down sooner, but I couldn't tell him because he couldn't hear me with the noise from the wind. It was actually pretty nerve racking. Nevertheless, Christian found his way back to the cairns and we slowly, methodically made our way down the class 3. I faced in almost the whole time. I felt a lot more comfortable doing it this way with the hope that if I fell I could sprawl out and catch myself on the rock.
Pictures of some of the down climbing.
As we made our way back to the top of the gully we found many more climbers heading up the same way we were going and I started to wonder why this route isn't posted as an alternative to the loose class 2 section. There were a few places where I got nervous, but for the most part as long as I had my hands in a good spot I was fine. My only regret is that we didn't bring our helmets. We honestly didn't think we needed them looking at the route description.
We made it back to the gully all in one piece and slowly made our way down the gully.
Pictures of our group in the gully
There were a few people who had chosen the right side of all the loose rock to down climb and I think they had the right idea. We finally made it back to the saddle and were very happy to be back on a trail. We stopped and admired our accomplishment and then made our way back to the trees.
I have now climbed some class 3 such as Wetterhorn, Longs, Kit Carson, and I definitely love it. I think that down climbing this class 3 section of Lindsey was probably the most nervous I have ever been even with the extreme exposure on Wetterhorn, I felt more comfortable there. Not sure what made this worse for me, but I still had an exhilarating climb and look forward to less scary class 3 climbs!! Suggestions anyone???
Some other photos from the hike
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):