Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Date Posted:  01/11/2012
Modified:  07/08/2015
Date Climbed:   01/07/2012
Author:  kimo
 Heaven Up Here: Huron Peak  

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. -Albert Camus

Approaching the summit of Huron Peak.

Huron Peak is an elusive mountain in winter. It's tucked deep into the folds of the Clear Creek drainage, a hidden kingdom guarded by sentinels that rise even higher. In summer, the mountain is typically approached from the old town of Winfield, which is accessed using county road 390 from highway 24. In winter, county road 390 is usually closed near highway 24, and that can add 15 to 20 miles of snowy foot travel to the standard summer route.

But this winter season is different. The 2-wheel drive summer trailhead at Winfield remains accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles. This is a rare ocassion in winter, and impossible to ignore. A team comes together: Mike, aka Chicago Transplant; Kevin Baker; Darin Baker; Scot, aka Floyd; Colin, aka Astrobassman; Kevin, aka Papillon, and Sarah, aka Wooderson. We meet Terri Horvath on the road.

It was an honor and pleasure to climb with new friends and old. In the past few years, the tales of adventure and the sage advice that these climbers provide on have been a great inspiration as I make my own journey. But I's time to hit the trail and make this climb happen. We lace our boots, shoulder our packs, and set out. Together we learn that Huron Peak is not an easy proposition in winter, especially when the forecast is for snow.

Heaven Up Here: The Huron Peak Standard.

Huron Peak - 14,003 feet (ranked 52nd highest in Colorado)
Climb date: Saturday, January 7, 2011
Trailhead name: The town of Winfield, approx. elevation 9,600 feet
Total distance: Approx. 11 miles roundtrip
Total vertical gain: Approx. 3,800 feet
Difficulty: That depends on your point of view
Forecast: 80% chance of snow, 2 to 4 inches, 10 to 15mph wind. And it was just like they said it would be.

Captions on top of photos.

Some of the crew arrive the night before to sleep in our cars. The silvery mountainscape is revealed by a full moon in the clear night sky. And then sometime in the early morning, under the cover of sleep, the clouds move in and it begins to snow. By 8 AM, we walk the road toward Huron Peak.

The view, back over the shoulder.

The upper trailhead for Mount Huron.

A well-used winter boot track - a rare sight in these parts.

We hike back and forth through the trees. The trees thin, and the track goes straight up the slope.

The trees.

We climb higher and higher.

The view to our right.

We leave the trees behind as we crest the slope and gain the lower basin. The wind gains speed and the snow flies. At this point, due to illness, Scot and Colin turn around to head down the mountain. We will miss them on the remainder of the hike.

Huron Peak appears mysterious and playful. There is no menace here. But I keep my guard up - it's a hard lesson I learned on my first ascent of Huron Peak in 2009.

We reach the upper basin and continue toward Huron's north ridge.

Now that feels like winter.

The north ridge is in sight - we push on.

We cross talus slope to gain the ridge. The cold wind stings bare skin.

Looking down.

Looking back.

We reach the ridge in pure white light.

And the team vanishes into thin air.

The northeast face - a ghost ship in heavy fog.

Apparition or Huron Peak?

The clouds break for a moment as we push on.

We can't see the summit but we can feel it. The cold wind continues to howl.

Onward and upward, toward the light.

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill

The summit is guarded by Banshees. We keep our heads down and push on as the Banshees stomp and crash about.

And sometime after noon, in the stark darkness of midday, we reach the summit of Huron Peak. The wind relents. And we celebrate.

Papillon and Wooderson.

Chicago Transplant and D_Baker.

Kevin Baker.

The summit is quiet and still, so we linger for awhile. This moment did not come easy and no one wants to give it up. But there comes a time...there always comes a time. We begin our descent as the storm clouds break apart.

The view opens up. I nearly stumble and fall into the roiling sea of white caps.

Kevin Baker stays high on the ridge as the rest of us drop down into the basin. Kevin is going for Browns Peak, Middle Mountain, and UN13462. He will make it.

The view downward is breathtaking.

I look back toward enigmatic Huron Peak and say thanks. Some mountains come easy. Huron isn't one of them.

The standard summer trail is visible in the snow, so we follow it down.

Bodies are descending but our spirits remain high.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. - Maori Proverb

We swim in the moment.

Clouds lift from Huron Peak, revealing its shy grace.

The come down.

We are greeted by silvery trees.

We walk on the road, behind a vanishing sun. Twilight lingers on the high mountain tops.

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. - Aaron Rose

The difficult weather provided a strong sense of accomplishment. It was rough, but it was a lot of fun. I need to thank my partners for making this an enjoyable and unforgettable day in the hills. And thank you, the readers, for joining us on our adventure. Climb on.

 Comments or Questions

Nice job...
01/11/2012 16:05
to the team. Kimo, I love photo 10. The bright red of the jacket against the white winter background. Beautiful. Looks like a rough but fantastic day. Great write up.


01/11/2012 16:05
The things some people do for fun! Great trip report and surreal photos. You guys rock!


And yet again, you draw me in ...
01/11/2012 16:21
With the music (so many facets and hauntingly compelling). 8) Thank you, Kimo.

Climb on indeed.

Happy trails, my friend!


01/11/2012 16:52
As always, I enjoy your reports and even more, your photography. they always make me jones my next hike even more. Congrats to all for a well earned winter summit. You guys are burly!!


Crack Kills
01/11/2012 16:59
Kimo, what a great crew you had for this trip. Amazing to see the sparseness of the snow up there. Hopefully that will change as we'll need it. So glad this trip didn't require any crack.


As always
01/11/2012 17:00
A very impressive TR and photos, great work guys!


Nice Write-Up
01/11/2012 17:16
Sorry I couldn't join you guys for the summit. Floyd's whiskers were covered in ice and I was seriously doubting my 2WD's ability to navigate the road out with all the fresh snow. I kept thinking back to last year with the Explorer stuck on Guanella Pass all winter.

Kudos to Kevin for perservering for the 13er as well - what a glutton for punishment.

Great crew indeed, it was a pleasure to finally get out with everyone.

Ridge runner

Tough conditions
01/11/2012 17:51
I was hoping to join you all on Huron last weekend, but after looking at the conditions you endured, I'm not so sure I could have made it. You guys/gal are tough! Really nice pictures, Kimo!


I like it
01/11/2012 18:47
Kimo, great job writing this one up, and great job on the photos! I'm shocked. ;)
Kevin B and I were saying in the morning that it wasn't going to be much of a photo day, but you proved us otherwise!!

Fun & challenging day out, and it was fun getting together with everyone! Let's hit something again! (And Johnson, I'm not talking about the crack pipe.)


a who's who of climbers
01/11/2012 20:33
well that report almost makes me wish I had been with you guys rather than the nice sunny and picturesgue day before - not

And the sun is pouring in
through the window
and right onto your skin
and I've never seen a portrait quite so picturesque
and the hours slip away
I always struggle for the right words to say
by Chase Coy


01/11/2012 21:00
Wow that picture under the Maurice Freehill quote is quite amazing. Seems like an all star lineup...poor Huron

Chicago Transplant

Captured the Moment
01/11/2012 22:24
As always, you really captured the moment in your words and photos. Nice to finally meet you!

Huron is normally hibernating by now, but its been busy this early winter with the road staying ”open”


Twas a bit nipply up there...
01/11/2012 22:41
You delivered the goods again, my friend. It was great getting out with new partners and ones from the past. I look forward to our next adventure together.

@Johnson - You should join the band for our next ”gig.”


always a treat...
01/11/2012 23:03
...your TRs, that is. Of course they're even better when I was fortunate enough to be part of the trip.

It was a memorable outing, dudes... hope you didn't mind having a token chick along for the ride. 8)


Nice job!
01/12/2012 03:41
To all of you! Beautiful shots once again, but I especially enjoyed the 2nd to the last one, ”Twilight lingers...” Thanks, Kimo!


And the challenges weren't even over!
01/12/2012 04:00
I bet it was a heck of a drive home. Congrats.

Kevin Baker

Nice shots considering the bad light!
01/12/2012 04:21
Nice to finally get out with you, Kimo! You have an eye for some spectacular shots for sure. Hard to believe Kevin's wind meter was only registering 10 mph or so up there, but I think the summit was in a wind shadow. It was great to take advantage of a rare reasonable winter day hike on Huron!


great job!
01/12/2012 12:47
Nicely done guys! Shawn and I just missed you all.

Kevin Baker

Summit vid
01/12/2012 14:54
Here's a short summit video that I took.


01/13/2012 19:48
Any chance the road from Winfield to the upper TH was packed well enough for a snowmobile? Were there any recent snowmobile tracks up there?


01/13/2012 20:06
Bill...I think a sled would have enough depth & coverage to make it in there without dinging your skis too much.


01/13/2012 22:05
I've used the sled to get in there in the spring but wasn't sure how much traffic it's received so far this winter. May just have to get up there soon and give it a whirl.


01/15/2012 15:53
Great photos and writeup on a rare winter peak, nice job!

”The 2-wheel drive summer trailhead at Winfield remains accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles.”

Wild what this winter is giving up without a fight. I remember skinning up that road last year from the ranch, four miles each way, just to get to Vicksburg. Huron seemed like another world away at the time. Certainly seems like a good year to try for some of the difficult to access winter peaks.


01/15/2012 18:01
Beautiful photos and write-up, Kimo. I enjoyed your report.


01/17/2012 15:20
To all who read, commented and/or ”liked”, thanks for taking the time and I'm happy you enjoyed the report. The conditions look difficult but Huron was a lot of fun - I owe my gratitude to my great partners for making this an unforgettable adventure. So fellow readers, mountaineers, and partners, I'll see you in the hills sometime. Climb on. And thanks again.

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