Galena Peak 12,461
Mt Otto 12,865
Bushnell Peak 13,105
Twin Sisters 13,012
Red Mountain 12,994
May 6, 2011
~19.7 Miles, 8,600 Gain. (~10.5 Miles Climbed, ~9.2 Miles Ran)
Trailhead: ~9,800 Hayden Pass Road (4WD Mandatory)
The Cristos have been good to us this year, with low snow levels, so we returned. I met Al at our usual spot at our usual time Thursday and made the drive down towards Hayden Pass Road. We worked our way up the road which was very rocky and had a few interesting steep sections. The first real place to set any camp without sleeping in the valley was around ~9,800. We could have continued further up the road but the snow was increasing, camping spots were lacking, and parking further up the road would have put us further away from our first peak.
The alarm wasn't too bad as we were able to get to bed early. We woke up at 4:30 AM and were hiking up the steep south slopes up Galena just a little past 5:00 AM. There is nothing like a steep hill right out of the gates. Our progress was good as we climbed upwards and around ~11,200 the snow increased but luckily the snow was well consolidated and frozen so travel wasn't very difficult. We left the snowshoes at the car.
Sunrise on the south ridge of Galena.
Taking in the morning sun. (Photo by Al)
Being careful not to make any post-holes, as there were some “soft” sections, we continued upwards and as soon as we got out of the trees, at ~11,600, it became a snow covered talus climb to the summit where we arrived at 7:30 AM. The weather was clear and sunny except that it was windy. Unfortunately we would be battling the wind for the next 6 hours. A constant 6 on the Beaufort scale. Our stay was short and we continued north towards our next objective of Point 12,620.
Out of the trees on the south ridge of Galena. (Photo by Al)
Out of the trees on the south ridge of Galena. (Photo by Al)
Al working his way up the south ridge of Galena.
Summit of Galena. (Photo by Al)
Descending off of Galena was steep and progress was hindered with the powdery snow covering the loose talus, a common theme for the rest of the day. Once we hit the saddle, we made good time to the summit of 12,620 where we arrived at 8:20 AM. We could see Hunts in the distance and it was rather intimidating that we were going to be traversing almost that distance and returning back! Just to the north of 12,620 was a neat looking spire that might have to be climbed when I run out of things to climb.
Descending the north ridge of Galena. (Photo by Al)
Looking back on the north ridge of Galena.
Starting up 12,620. (Photo by Al)
Al on the summit of 12,620.
Neat spire with Otto in the background. (Photo by Al)
As we continued onward towards Mt. Otto, we bypassed Point 12,840 (unmarked), on the west side of the ridge. Again, travel was slow on the snow covered talus. If the snowy talus wasn't going to knock us off balance, the wind certainly attempted too. We arrived on the summit of Mt. Otto at 9:30 AM and Bushnell looked impressive. Also, it was rewarding looking back on the peaks that we had already climbed. Fortunately, for some odd reason, there wasn't much wind on the summit so we took a longer break before heading towards Bushnell.
Descending 12,620 towards Otto. (Photo by Al)
Bushnell from the summit of Otto.
We descended the class 2 north ridge of Otto and unfortunately, we couldn't bypass 13,002 so we ended up climbing up and over on our way to Bushnell. The wind continued to hammer us as we summited Bushnell at 10:45 AM. Just a little over halfway done.
Descending the north ridge of Otto. (Photo by Al)
Otto-Bushnell saddle. (Photo by Al)
South ridge of Bushnell.
Otto, 12,620 and Galena from the summit of Bushnell.
Continuing onward to the north to Twin Sisters, we bypassed Point 12,730 on the west side and continued up the long broad class 2 ridge to the summit of Twin Sisters where we arrived at 12:10 PM. Still sunny and still windy. After downing another gel, we continued toward Point 12,924. On our way up the south ridge of 12,924, I could start to feel the days gain wearing on me. We arrived on the summit of 12,924 at 1:00 PM with great views all around. Another gel down the hatch.
Bushnell from the summit of Twin Sisters.
Al approaching the summit of Twin Sisters.
Red Mountain had the worst wind of the day and at times balance became difficult. We ditched our packs at the 12,924-Red Mountain Saddle and continued north towards the summit. Progress was slow due to the wind and the physical exertion we had already put on bodies by climbing 6 alpine summits. It felt good not having a pack and we arrived on the summit at 1:50 PM. Now, the wind continued to batter us at a constant 7-8 on the Beaufort Scale.
Fighting the wind up Red Mountain (Photo by Al)
Twin Sisters and 12,924 from the summit of Red Mountain.
We returned to our packs, inhaled another gel, and descended west down slushy snow towards Raspberry Creek. As we descended lower, the snow became a little deeper and at times we were post holing up to our knees. Around ~10,200 we were able to avoid the snow and progress was good. Eventually, we found a trail, less traveled, and continued towards the valley.
Descending towards Raspberry Creek.
Finally, we received a break from the wind and the temperature was warming up. I had been wearing my fleece, shell and balaclava all day as the wind was brutally cold. It felt good to shed a few layers.
The next best thing after climbing 7 peaks, besides a beer, is taking a nice long 9 mile run. I had no option as we didn't have a car shuttle; the run was mandatory. Around ~8,800, I stripped down to shorts and a T-shirt, changed into my running shoes and began the long run back to the car. I left Al with my pack around 4:20 PM.
Staring the run back to the car. (Photo by Al.)
As I followed the maze of roads dirt roads back to the car, I watched my progress of the peaks we had just climb pass by me. I saw several antelopes and the best part, zero people which had a nice desolate feeling. I almost love running as much as I love climbing.
Now for the test. The last 3 miles to the car gained ~1,600 feet and was steep. My running progress slowed, but I kept a good uphill pace until the last ½ mile. My legs were tired, the hill was very steep and rocky so I just ended up hiking the last ½ mile arriving back at the car just a little past 6:00 PM. Hiking was probably faster anyhow.
The drive back to Al was uneventful and took almost 40 minutes as the road was rocky and progress was slow. Kind of crazy to think that I almost ran that distance in the same time that I drove it. I picked up Al, and drove back towards Al's car after an extremely rewarding early May climb.
Al's GPX file.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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