Peak:  Humboldt Peak (14er)
 Route:  East Ridge
 Range:  Sangre de Cristo
 Posted By:  vdavidoff
 Date of Info:  05/11/2013
 Date Posted:  05/11/2013

I had planned to do this hike with climbnowworklater but for a variety of good reasons we cancelled. I couldn‘t get it off my mind though, so at the last minute I headed out. I spent the night Friday at the Rainbow Trail crossing (see the trailhead status from 2013-05-11 by eskermo, who I am pretty sure I met up there today).

A little snow and ice came down Friday night, but it was a dusting. The Rainbow Trail is muddy, but on the actual trail there isn‘t much snow to speak of. The bridge is out (it‘s totally gone) but there‘s a quick and easy detour.

There was a small amount of snow at the start of little ridge you gain off the Rainbow Trail. I was in microspikes until about .8mi at which point the snow got very deep very abruptly. I switched to snowshoes and was fine. Snowshoes were required from that point on. On the way down, which was still before noon, things were already extremely slushy.

On my way down I ran into a group of 3 snowboarders who were on their way up (I think one of them was eskermo), and they had been postholing knees and higher most of the way up (no snowshoes), in my tracks. They turned around after talking to me about the conditions on the rest of the trail.

I had read that since the East Ridge doesn‘t have a trail, lots of route finding is required. This is true, but I found the route finding to be quite easy. I found the ridge to be narrow enough that it was very easy to know whether or not I was on the top of the ridge and moving in the right direction (rising elevation). To my surprise there were quite a number of cairns on the ridge, and as grateful as I am to whoever put them there, I don‘t think they‘re necessary. This is my experience, at least.

It was a beautiful day to be on the mountain, but unfortunately above about 12,900 cloud cover obscured visibility to a degree I was not comfortable with, so I turned back at around 13,200, after about 30 minutes in this cover and with more ominous clouds moving in and staying around. I should have been able to see the summit from where I stopped, and all I could see was white. I think turning back was definitely the smart move as things looked even worse as I was descending the ridge, and still looked very covered while I was driving away.

The picture of the trail crossing is from about 6am this morning. The snow on the road was totally gone by the time I got down. The shot of the ridge is from right about tree line, and gives you an idea of what the ridge looked like and the cloud cover, during my descent. In the image of my route, the only reason it deviates near where you gain the ridge is because on the way down, I went a little further east past where I gained the ridge on the way up. The last picture is just another view of the cloud cover looking south over the range, as I was on my way down.

Not very exciting images, but here are some more from today. They might be good to show conditions.

Photos (click for slideshow):
Image #1Image #2Image #3Image #4

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