Princeton has been calling me, every time I drive into Buena Vista from Denver, she's looming in the not so far reach of my climbing grasp. Today was her day. My 18th summit of the season started with a late start from home 630am, and an easy drive until the last several miles up the 4wd road. I have a 4wd Dodge Ram 2500 that made an easy bouncy ride of it though. The Aspens were in full fall swing, making the drive so much more pleasurable.
Aspens on the road to the trailhead.
Started climbing the steps on the side of the road at 920am. The trail was easy to follow as it wrapped around the south east slope of unnamed peak. The weather was perfect today! mid to upper 60's with a gentle breeze that helped keep me cool until I gained elevation. As you come around that slope, Princeton comes into view, where she will stay for the rest of the hike.
Princeton comes into view.
As you hike along the east facing slope of Unnamed heading towards Princeton, you can make out the slightly visible trail across Princeton's east slope and can see the old trail that branches up towards the ridge you need to gain. You'll be gaining the ridge before you ever come to that branch on the old trail. A medium sized, man-made rock wall will be pretty obvious to stop you from continuing on the old trail, unless you missed the steps off of the main road in the beginning of the hike, than you might want to pay attention here.
The rest of the route before gaining the ridge was fun! Rock hopping on stable boulders and route finding kept my mind sharp and focused on the task at hand. Taking breaks, I enjoyed the Aspens changing in the distance and the Arkansas Valley below to the east.
Aspens in fall.
After gaining the ridge, the climbing continued it's fun factor for me. More scrambling over boulders and awesome views to the south of Antero.
Antero to the south.
The summit push had me finding my own way through the talus and boulders. Tons of social trails lead you to believe you are on the correct trail. As long as you keep your eye on the cairn pile that sticks out like a beacon at the top of the false summit you'll be just fine. From there it's an easy scramble to the summit. Along the way though, I came across a plaque that had been erected for a climber that had lost her life on Princeton due to lightning. It was a somber reminder of the dangers associated with climbing. I started to think about the hikers I have seen beginning their summit bids at 10am when there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms after noon forecasted. Weather can be your best friend and worst enemy on a climb. Respect it.
I reached the summit at 1130am!
On the summit of Princeton! 18th of the season and 28th overall.
I took my own way across the talus towards the main trail back down...I was looking for a little adventure! Made it to the car at 110pm.
One thing worth mentioning, the trail was quite slippery with dirt and pebbles at times. I slipped more on this trail than almost any other. Take it slow and enjoy!
Yours truly, taking the headband to new heights.