|Peak:||Engelmann Peak (13er)|
|Route:||NW slopes from Urad Mine area|
|Date of Info:||05/05/2012|
Failed attempt to climb, but I hope others might learn from my mistakes:
The Trailhead: The Urad Mine area has interesting signage, some suggesting that you might be trespassing in certain areas. Just make sure to stay east of the mine and you should probably be OK. Parking is about 50 feet before the avalanche danger sign as indicated in the other reports, large turnoff, plenty of parking for a 5-6 cars or so. There's more parking farther up and about 1/3 mile back on the road.
Route: The route up the road is well packed and can be easily walked on with boots. It will probably take another month or so for it to all thaw out. Off the trail though, it's postholing hell. You need snowshoes to go off the main road, and you need to go off trail to get to Engelmann. Thus, you need snowshoes for the time being at least. The snow is deep, and very weak under the top layer. Even in the early morning I was postholing up to my waist. Without snowshoes, you're probably looking at an hour long journey to go a couple hundred yards... Keep in mind, this is in a "low snow" year. In a normal year you'd probably need snowshoes until July for this area as it didn't seem to get much sun.
Make sure to turn off early on the road to head up the slopes of Engelmann. It looks like the best bet is to turn off in a (very apparent) avalanche chute about a mile from the gate. If you miss this chute, then you need to bushwhack your way up. Otherwise, you'll make my mistake, which was going too far up the road. If you get too far up the road, you're basically screwed as far as getting over to Engelmann and Robeson, as the slopes are blocked by exposed Class 3 - 5 cliffs. I tried to work my way around the cliffs (back towards the trailhead, while looking for a route up) but the rock is completely rotten, even walking on the talus was a nightmare. I've seen some guide books that suggest that you could go even further south into the basin and ascend the saddle between Robeson and Bard, but I wouldn't suggest it. It looks very steep, and again the rock is completely rotten. If you get to this point, the best way to recover is probably to head SW towards the saddle between Woods and Parnassus, as it's a pretty gentle and reasonable climb.
Maps: The topo maps for this area are very outdated; most show a summit to Red Mountain that no longer exists! Be aware, that Red Mountain's summit has collapsed due to underground mining. While I was planning on making a full loop (with Red Mountain last), I wouldn't recommend this plan now that I've been out there. Red Mountain overlies the mine, so the ground could be unstable if you walk out on it.