Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  12/30/2011
Date Climbed:   12/29/2011
Author:  mrtimmo
 Mt. Princeton via Tigger Peak  

After an amazing day of skiing at Keystone and a nice soak in the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort we slept in the 4Runner at the Mt. Princeton Trailhead. We decided to summit Princeton as a winter peak due to its easy navigation and relatively straightforward ascent.

The day started at 0530 after a decent nights sleep in my 4Runner. We enjoyed a cold breakfast and started the ascent up the four wheel drive road leading to the radio towers. The snow was rather solid with a couple powdery, post-hole prone spots. We used snowshoes the entire way. After an hour or two the wind and clouds started to kick in endangering the awesome views.

Once we arrived at the trailhead at 12,000' we decided to take the road to Lucky Mine and bag Tigger Peak on our way to Princeton. We did this mainly because the Tigger Ridge had considerably less snow than the standard approach up Princeton's face. However as expected, the wind started blowing incredibly hard as we crept up the less popular spine.

We hit Tigger Peak a little after 1100 but had very little view to sit and stare at. So we continued towards the barely visible Mt. Princeton. The traverse between the peaks was probably the best part of the hike minus the wind, which was almost unbearable. At the very least, the talus and scree provided a different surface in which to put our boots down, because they were tired of being in snowshoes during the entire ascent.

After the traverse, we made summit at approximately 1250 and sat on the top of Princeton for as long as it took me to write this sentence. The wind and temperature coupled with the lack of view made it very appealing to get back down to treeline as soon as possible. We started working our way down to Princeton's main trail and took it all the way to the trailhead.

Here we put our snowshoes back on and pounded snow all the way down to the car. It had snowed to the point where our original tracks on the ascent were hidden. About two hours later, as the daylight was rescinding, we made it back to the car and headed back home.

This was an interesting trip in the fact that winter climbs are both incredibly fun, different, and always surprising. The weather and wind took away the awe-inspiring views but provided a different medium in which to climb the peak. Necessary gear included: an ice axe, MSR snowshoes with spikes on the bottom and extenders, a Garmin GPS with the primary and alternate routes preloaded, windproof layer with hood, ski goggles, and gaitors. Without any of the pieces of equipment, we would have turned back.

All in all, this hike was both fun, challenging, and rewarding. No matter how "easy" a fourteener is in the summer or how much people talk it down, this trip showed that if you respect the mountain, plan accordingly, and aggressively execute, you will achieve your goal. 26 down, so many more to go......

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