March 26, 2011
Trailhead: ~9,400 on FS 982. High Clearance, 4WD recommended.
Total Milage: ~8.8, Total Gain: ~4500
Naturally, the weather looked marginal. When hasn't it been this year? It has been over a month since I was at altitude and a long day with lots of wind didn't look very inviting. I met up with Al at Trout Creek Pass late Thursday and on the drive down to the northern Cristos, we decided to climb Hunts and 12,401. A longer loop on Bushnell didn't look very enjoyable especially if we were going to get battered by wind all day. Due to the lack of snow, we were able to drive up to ~9,400 on FS 982 where we set up camp.
After breakfast, we were on our way hiking up FS 982 around 6:15 AM. We were able to make good progress up the road and had to put on the snowshoes around ~10,300. Overall, the snow was fairly consolidated which was a nice change from the deep powder trail breaking we had been doing earlier in the year. Continuing up the road, we could hear the wind at higher elevations. Around ~10,800, we left the road/trail and proceeded directly up the west slopes of a northern thumb of the west ridge. The snow was much more consolidated and even icy in places. Although steep, the travel was fairly quick.
Al hiking up the snow covered road.
Al climbing up the steep west slopes of a northern thumb of the west ridge.
Close to tree line.
First view of Hunts.
False bump in the west ridge of Hunts. Photo by Al.
Once we broke out of tree line we were able to take off the snowshoes and proceed directly up the class 2 west ridge of Hunts. The wind was blowing a consistent 20-30 MPH; tolerable I suppose. We reached the summit of Hunts around 9:50 AM. Our summit stay was short since the cold wind was sucking our heat away and proceeded down the steep class 2 north ridge. 12,401 looked far away.
West ridge of Hunts.
Al out of tree line.
Start of the west ridge.
Al on the west ridge.
Al working his way up the west ridge.
Views to the north from the summit of Hunts.
Al on the summit of Hunts.
We found a nice niche out of the wind and took a break on the north ridge of Hunts. After our break, we continued onward. The wind was increasing. We skirted the southwest face 12,593 on fairly solid talus and climbed directly up and over 12,520. The wind was now 20-30 MPH gusting 40-50 MPH and 12,401 still looked far away. To avoid unnecessary gain, we skirted the southwest slopes 12,417 and from the 12,417-12,401 saddle, the climb was an easy class 2 hike to the summit. The wind eased a little and the sun was starting to shine. We arrived on the summit of 12,401 at noon. Again, our break was short and we started down the southwest ridge of 12,401.
North ridge of Hunts.
Me descending the north ridge of Hunts. Photo by Al.
The long path to 12,401
Traversing 12,593. Photo by Al.
Hunts from below 12,593.
Al making the final push up 12,401
Mt Ouray from the summit of 12,401.
Al on the summit of 12,401.
Staying low out of the wind on 12,401. Photo by Al.
Hunts from the summit of 12,401.
The descent between 11,800 and 11,000 was on steep lose talus and travel was slow. At ~10,800 the ridge mellowed and travel became faster. We stuck to the south facing slopes and were able to avoid snowshoes on the entire descent. We met up with the roads at the junction of FS 980 and 982 at ~9,680 and followed FS 982 back to the car arriving at 2:00 PM. A fine day even with the wind.
Rocky descent on 12,401. Photo by Al.
Descent on 12,401.
Snow free descent.
Snow free descent. Photo by Al.
The road home. Photo by Al.
GPX file courtesy of Al.
Directions to the Trailhead: Drive ~4.5 miles south from the summit of Poncha Pass and look for a dirt road on the left which isn't marked very well. After taking a left, follow the road for .6 miles and make a right onto FS 980 which is also marked as "S. ROCK CR. 2.5" Follow this road for 1.0 miles and make a right onto FS 982. Follow FS 982 for 1.7 miles and make a left (still marked 982). Follow FS 982 until a river crossing at ~9,640. Could drive higher?
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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