| Spring Creek Pass 13eners
February 11, 2011
Trailhead: Spring Creek Pass
Total Mileage: ~14.6, Total Gain: ~4,900
My technical climbing partner, Justin, had 2 days off and wanted to get on some ice. Since the weather forecast was supposed to be good, we compromised for a day of ice climbing and a day of 13eners. Lake City was our choice since neither of us had ice climbed there. Justin, my wife and I left Wednesday night and ended up using one of my several free nights at the Holiday Inn Express in Gunnison which was an excellent choice since it was -20 F that night.
We slept in since there was no hurry to freeze, enjoyed free breakfast and made the short drive to Lake City. The car struggled to get started. Upon our arrival in Lake City, we found out we needed to sign a wavier for the ice park which we did at the Mocha Moose Coffee shop. After talking with a local ice climber, we decided to climb at Ute Ulay Mine (~3-4 Miles up the Engineer Pass Road, south side) since it was in the sun while the ice park in town was in the shade. The Ute Ulay Mine had some short steep farmed ice and conditions were extremely brittle and very hard. Felt as though my pick was going to break hitting the ice.
Ute Ulay Mine Ice.
Ute Ulay Ice. Where is the beer?
Neat ice in a cave.
Upper view of Ute Ulay Ice.
Later that afternoon, we headed to the ice park located right out of town, now in the sun, and were able to fit in another lap. We were hoping to get in some more laps on top rope but we learned that top ropes require LOTS of webbing, at least 50-100 feet, since the belay posts are way back from the edge of the ice.
Lake City Ice Park.
Lake City Ice Park.
After eating dinner in town, we found zero lodging due to a balloon festival this weekend, and ended up setting up camp at Spring Creek Pass. It was cold, and if I recall correctly, -5 F in Lake City. The alarm went off at 4:45 AM where things were off to a slow start. Justin and I were planning on skiing but due to the cold, his tele binding broke, my skins broke and got dabbled in powder snow so they didn’t stick. We spent an hour trying to replace the parts on Justin’s bindings while I duck taped and strung together my skins, which is hard to do when it is close to 0 F.
So tropical. I love it.
At last, we started up the trail at 7:00 AM after wasting an hour with his bindings and my skins. Justin wasn't able to fix his binding so he switched to snow shoes. It was frustrating as we continued up towards Snow Mesa as I had to re-duck duck tape my skins at least 6 times. I brought the entire roll in anticipation of them not working. Justin was smoking me since I was stopping so much. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around since I was on skis?
Working our way toward Snow Mesa.
Oh the warm sun is so close.
Sunshine was nice once we gained the mesa and we started the long trek east bound on the mesa. The wind was blowing and we were both cold. As we continued east bound, we ended up climbing to the wrong saddle; the Baldy Cinco-13,162 saddle. I decided to ditch my skis and climb up and over 13,162, climb 13,510 and return back over 13,162. Justin didn't care much for 13,510, so I bolted ahead to climb 13,510.
Exiting Snow Mesa.
Climbing up the east ridge of 13,162 was easy and I arrived on the summit around 10:30 AM. 13,510 appeared close but ended up being a energy consuming fiasco. As I continued towards the 13,510-13,162 saddle, I encountered a steep snow loaded couloir with a nasty cornice. Going directly to the saddle wasn't an option. I followed some snow covered grass slopes on the southeast side of 13,162 to the saddle where I had avoided several snow loaded slopes. My path was very sinuous. Once at the saddle, I had some interesting rock formations on the southwest ridge of 13,510 which I avoided on the north side of the ridge.
Snow mesa. Now for the wind.
Baldy Cinco (right) and Baldy no es Cinco (left).
Working our way across Snow Mesa.
The climbing became easier and I reached the summit of 13,510 at 11:50 AM. I was not looking forward to returning up and over 13,162. The sky was clear of clouds but the wind was howling and my stay on the summit was short. I followed my path back up and over 13,162 and met Justin who was waiting at the 13,162-Baldy Cinco saddle.
On the south side of Baldy Cinco.
Upper ridge of 13,510.
Point 13,162 from the south ridge of Point 13,510
The south ridge of Point 13,510.
Looking south from the summit of 13,510 with snow mesa in the background.
San Luis Peak from the summit of 13,510
Looking north from the summit of 13,510.
Baldy Cinco from 13,510.
Justin was beginning to get cold so my break was short and we continued up the class 2 southeast ridge of Baldy Cinco arriving on the summit at 2:00 PM. We arrived on the summit later than both of us were planning and since Justin had to be at work at 6:00 AM the next day we passed on Baldy no es Cinco. The summit was so close but it will make a nice half day ski in the future. Perhaps I will combine it with some decent ice climbing on the south side of Spring Creek Pass.
13,510 from the southeast ridge of Baldy Cinco.
The southeast ridge of Baldy Cinco. Will the wind ever stop.
From the summit of Baldy Cinco, we descended the talus south slopes back to snow mesa and found our trail back to Spring Creek Pass. The trail had been freshly groomed so our descent was quick and arrived back at the car at 3:45 PM. Now for the long windy drive home and I'm glad I didn't have to be at work at 6:00 AM the next day.
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