After an internal debate, I decided to head further west into the mountains - I had an itch to go play around on the glacier up at St. Mary's.
I knew the weather was going to be horrible, but one of the luxury's of St. Mary's is that you're not far from the car, and you can hone your winter climbing skills.
I set out about 10 minutes after a couple of fellow's in Micro Spikes who were carrying small packs. I didn't see them again - when I got back to my car they were gone. Turned around perhaps?
I made it up around the lake and the wind was howling.
To make things a little interesting, I decided to climb toward the right of the glacier (while ascending). This was steeper and I was able to make this into a spicy little class 3+, maybe class 4 climb with the ice. I had my crampons and an axe to help me along.
I continued to climb north/northeast and the slope started to even off. The wind really started to pickup. I was close to the summit of Kingston Peak, so I decided to go ahead and bag it.
On top of Kingston Peak the wind was really whipping around.
The weather for Mt. Evans said 3 degrees, with wind, -24 degree windchill. I'm guessing I faced around the same conditions. At the summit, I had to put on my mountaineering mitts and a down parka to keep warm on the way down. Conditions deteriorated and it eventually became a whiteout. I made my way slowly back to the glacier and followed it back down to the lake.
All in all, a great day of truly "winter" climbing conditions. Despite the bad weather it was extremely fun, and solitary. Car to Car was about three hours.
For those of you wondering about the snow conditions, I only ran into 6" to 10" deep snow. This was the deepest. The glacier could easily be climbed without snowshoes. I would bring microspikes though, at a minimum.
The couloir's above St. Mary's lake "appeared" to be stable. I only noticed what seemed like one small runoff area, closer to the glacier. I stayed away from these though, was by myself and didn't want be dug up a week later.
For anyone thinking of venturing into this area, it's imperative you come prepared. My goggles froze up, luckily I was walking away from the wind when they finally decided to freeze.
Any questions PM me - Barry, we'll get her done soon!
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