Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Post Date:  01/11/2011
Date Climbed:   01/07/2011
Posted By:  Dancesatmoonrise

 A January Day on Mount Yale   

A January Day on Mount Yale

Route: Denny Creek TH
Date: January 7, 2011
Length: About 9 miles RT
Vertical: About 4300 feet
Ascent Party: James, Darin, Greg, Kevin, Mike, Jim

James ("Fletch") crests the summit ridge on Mount Yale, January 7, 2011


It’s 7:00 am; a bluebird morning. The familiar Denny Creek parking lot finds us scurrying to pack last minute gear. We’re all thinking - the weather and avy window is almost too perfect - we wonder about “wasting” it on a meager class two – though none of us is willing to incur the wrath of the mountain gods by voicing aloud such hubris. Still, venerable old Mt. Yale knows what we’re thinking, and decides to throw a little divine humor our way.

Mike ("Bean")

The gang rolls at 7:10 and leaves Mike and I busy changing thumbs in the parking lot. Normally the pack is ready to throw and go, but for some reason I can’t seem to get my make-up right this morning. By 7:30 Mike and I are on trail – till I realize the poles are in the car. Mike offers to share his. Nice gesture, but not good. We’re not too far down the trail – I’ll play catch-up. Once again, back at the car, it’s 8:00 am. Jim, can we put down the purse and get moving now?

The fork is well marked.

Ah, here’s the Hartenstein turnoff – where’s the gang? Apparently they’re upshifting, and I’m stuck in first. No matter, it’s a gorgeous day. I plod along, thankful that Mike, still in his ski boots, has scouted the occasional landmine on the otherwise well-established track. Soon the buffeting becomes too frequent. At 11,000, I declare “uncle,” settle for a long break, put on snowshoes, get some breakfast, and generally enjoy a gorgeous morning outdoors.

The well-established trench heads north up Delaney Creek.


At 11,800 the track decisively leaves the main drainage, cutting NE through a small, pretty meadow. I hear snowshoes, and find James struggling with steep terrain in the last of the trees. James, a linebacker of a fellow at 245 pounds, is working with short Evo’s, and no tails. He definitely gets the award for working the hardest with the best attitude. His next ascent will be on 30” ‘shoes. Way to hang in there, James.

Group ahead!

James crests the hill into the alpine

The 12955 saddle

Intrepid alpinists

Mount Yale summit, and a nice line through the alpine

The west-facing alpine is scoured; several ribs offer passage to the summit ridge. We take a line to the left, which is a little too steep and loose for my liking on the first 60 verts. At the top of the miserable steep stuff, I spy Greg way ahead. Greg is strong, and a very fast mover. He’s taking the lead toward 13,605. I look up at the peak, and then over to Yale on the right. From this perspective, 13,605 looks taller. I look again at the peak on the left, then the right, then the left, and scratch my head. Has Yale moved since I was here last? I must have missed the change of address.

I'm pretty sure that's our Yale over there to the right, and I see a fairly dry, direct line. I round a small hill, where I regain visual contact with the group, and wait a few minutes till they see me. I hold a pole up, and get acknowlegement. Cool, let's go get the Yale Direct.

A separate reality

There’s not too much terrain which had been hidden from our view at our snowshoe stash; it’s all pretty straightforward. I stop to take photos, check on the crew’s progress, and before long a few cairns appear. Some clean talus hopping gains the summit ridge near 13,950.

The sustrugi monsters seem friendly enough here...

Looking down...

Looking up...

The summit ridge on Yale holds a warm place in my heart as one of the first joyful alpine experiences on a 14er. Today is nearly as warm as that mid-August memory. “Rapture of the steep” sets in, as I begin to experience inexplicable ecstasy. A friend recently asked, “Are your outings fun?” Oh, no, absolutely not, they’re strictly religious.

Blessed alpine

Walking the line...

Rapture of the Steep!

11:30 am. I look back across the beautiful NW ridge. Over on the south side of the summit, wind-block offers some nice solar lounging. After lunch and some photos, a progress check reveals Greg standing atop the 13,800 area, heading this way. Back over to the solar south side for more R&R.

Greg gains the summit

Darin is seen at lower right center, working the summit ridge

Closer shot of Darin coming up the summit ridge

The team arrives

The team lounges

By 1:00 pm, the crew is assembled in the sun, minus James. We’re confident he’ll make it, so we go over to the north side to find him making way up the ridge. We can’t believe how nice it is for a January day at 14,000 feet.

James arrives

The guys like the Yale Direct, and decide to take it for the descent. We pack up and get started down.

Looking back

Greg is careful to stay off the restoration areas

A summit is an elusive thing. While it feels like the work is done, it’s less than half done. One still has to turn potential energy into kinetic energy, which increases the risk of injury substantially, just when one is most tired. Since the springs in my ass are pretty much worn out, I usually prefer to take it a little easier on the descent.

Mike eyes Dreamland below

Greg leads the way, as we follow my ascent footsteps back through the alpine.

We assemble on the bench at the snowshoe stash, below, for more lunch, repacking, and general camaraderie, before starting into the trees.

Men at Work

On the way back I figure out James is nearly a foot short on snowshoe length, and needs a pal. Despite trying to ferret out the land mines for him, my light weight more or less cruises what he falls through, with one glorious and slightly embarrassing exception. James tries politely to ignore my struggle with the snow snakes in Delaney Creek. After composing myself, I assure him we all meet this ignoble fate from time to time. We share a good laugh, and chat about everything from California 14ers to art history. The time goes by quickly and soon we’re tipping one and chatting with Kevin and Darin at the TH under the waxing cresent moon.

Homeward bound

Great trip, guys, thanks. Kevin, thanks for the Upshot! James, you’re the man, dude! Darin, glad to finally make a trip together, and thanks for the gas money. You’re a gentleman, undeniably. Mike, it was great meeting you, kindred spirit! Greg, nice to climb together; you’re fast. Let’s do it again.




  • Comments or Questions

Re: Apostles     02/15/2011 01:30
Thanks, Darin!

BTW - looking at your photos again... Sweet!!!



Apostles = LOVE     02/16/2011 02:37
Thanks, d_baker...qb is now the Apostles' biggest fan. And that cirque between them is just beyond description. Incredible beauty.



Apostles     02/14/2011 22:46
”What are the names of those gorgeous twin peaks that show up in a few of the pictures?”
qb....those are the Apostles. Ice Mtn is on the left, N. Apostle on the right.


Great pictures !     01/11/2011 23:12
As always, great pictures. I wish I had half your talent with a camera. Looks like a gorgeous day !

Summit Lounger

Winter Wonderland     01/11/2011 23:32
Thanks for spearheading the climb. It was a great day with an even better group. Fletch, what is the going rate for a 245# hot water bottle to sleep next to on the Horn Fork Basin trip?


Once again...     06/02/2011 14:57
Great pics and report. I really like the one of Bean and his softshell!


.     01/12/2011 02:41
A few pix I took...





James & Kevin

Great day out!
And nice photos Jim.


Excellent work gentlemen!!     01/12/2011 02:58
Although work is the wrong word. What a beautiful day to be out in the mountains.

Beautiful photos as always Jim.


Nice write up     01/12/2011 03:23
Great climbing with you all, look forward to getting out with you gents again.

My pictures and words here:


Thanks everyone.     01/12/2011 19:14
Thanks, all.

Yes, very good trip, guys. Let's get out and do it again!


wow     01/12/2011 21:40
I wish i could go with you, Jim some of us working fridays


My favorite photo this time is ...     01/12/2011 23:29
The Team Lounges ... looks like an album cover. 8) Uh oh ... am I allowed to say ”album”. Maybe the Lounge Lizards should have come up with that while they were still around. Looks like you had a good group there, Jim. Thanks for posting. Happy trails, my friend!


Crack me up     01/13/2011 00:59
Thanks, Presto. (Chuckle, chuckle...) I kind of felt that way about that shot as well. Yeah, we did have a great group, good guys all; I was honored to be able to travel with them on this trip.

Sen, thanks! The planets will align one of these days and you'll find some sick time. Seriously, let's get one soon. Kidnap Kimo.


.....     01/13/2011 04:40
Hey Jim i'm open this weekend, imagine....both days


That Final shot....     01/14/2011 00:14
should be your avatar photo!!! I goes perfect with your 14er screen name.

Nice report, great photos, and you scored excellent weather. You are getting some good one's this winter. Hope you join you on one before to long.

Thanks for the report.


Dammit Jim...     01/14/2011 05:44
... I'm a mountaineer, not a spectator. Still I find your reports and photos inspiring. Thanks for another great story.


Your photography...     01/15/2011 02:20
is the bomb. Nice work, photos and story.


Those two twin peaks     01/19/2011 23:56
What are the names of those gorgeous twin peaks that show up in a few of the pictures?



Hint?     01/20/2011 00:57
qb, can you give me a hint as to which photos? Thx.

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