Peak(s):  Pacific Pk  -  13,950 feet
Date Posted:  06/22/2011
Date Climbed:   06/21/2011
Author:  svkooi

 Pacific Peak West Ridge  

Climbed Pacific Peak from Mayflower Gulch via the West Ridge. We started bright and early at 11:30 am, and summited at around 5:00pm after stopping for about an hour in the meadow between Mayflower Hill and Pacific and Atlantic Peaks. We returned to our car at 8:00pm.

The hike was still pretty snowy; we alternated from mud to snow to rock to snow the whole way up. Starting from the trailhead, the road alternates from mud to snow in patches all of the way up. We did not opt to climb to the top of Mayflower hill; we instead followed Pacific Creek up to the base of Pacific. This was almost all snow, or slush rather; even with snowshoes i sunk in to about my knees with every step. Because of this, we stayed on dry ground as much as possible. Once we climbed above 12,000 ft., the snowpack was more stable and our snowshoes were effective. After stopping for an hour lunchbreak, we continued up the west ridge of Pacific Peak. This route is fairly steep and exposed, so be prepared for some climbing on all fours. The rocks were wet and slippery in some areas. There is not that much snow, but enough to make things a bit slippery. We had to hand my golden retriever to each other on some steeper spots that he couldn't manage on his own. The ridge took about two hours at a leisurely pace. I have hiked this mountain before, but upon reaching the signature notch near the top, I was still amazed by the breathtaking North Face of Pacific Peak. The views down the Tenmile Range from the summit were very nice: it is neat to look down on the mountains that I look up at every day from Frisco. You also have a nice view of Quandary's North face, Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, Holy Cross, and Grays and Torreys. Pacific Tarn is still frozen solid. We descended straight down the southwest face and hiked back on solid snowpack to the base of the west ridge, and descended the way we came up, in lots slushy snow. Be prepared for wet feet and legs if you do this hike anytime soon.

A word of warning: I made a VERY dumb mistake and forgot my sunglasses. Never having experienced snow blindness before, I proceeded without them. I was fine until about one in the morning, when I woke up to the excruciating sensation of hot sand being poured in my eyes. A word of advice: don't be a moron like me, and remember eye protection for any hiking involving snow reflection.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but there was no camera to be found in my house before we left. If you do this hike soon, just be prepared for a wet, slushy trip. Otherwise enjoy the views and journey on a hike of a very beautiful and spectacular mountain.


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