Peak(s):  Mt. Antero  -  14,269 feet
Date Posted:  03/15/2012
Date Climbed:   03/13/2012
Author:  gprandall
 Winter sunset from Mt. Antero  

On Monday, March 12, I hauled my sled up the well-packed track along the Baldwin Gulch jeep road and camped at 11,600 feet in the tallest mature timber. The snowpack alongside the road is completely bottomless sugar. You can push a ski pole to the ground in most areas without difficulty, and if you step off the track, you plunge in a foot even on snowshoes. I suspect skiing would be atrocious, although there were some ski tracks on the Baldwin Gulch jeep road.

On Tuesday, March 13, I continued following the well-packed track. Starting at timberline, the normal summer route follows a jeep road that criss-crosses two gullies as it switchbacks up the west flank of Antero. The packed winter trail leads up into the right-hand (southerly) of those two gullies. This gully would be a death-trap in a heavy snow year, and could be again this year if we get snow. It is threatened both by slides coming down the two main branches of the gully and by slides coming off the steep gully walls. In short, it is a perfect terrain trap. At this time, however, the gully walls are almost completely snow-free, with only small, shallow, crusty patches of snow that pose no threat. I followed the broken track until it ended where the gully steepens and forks at about 12,600 feet. Here I cached by snowshoes (which were essential from the trailhead up) and hiked up the rib that separates the two forks of the gully. I crossed the jeep road at about 12,900 feet and angled up and right to the south ridge of Mt. Antero, then followed the south ridge to the summit.

In retrospect, it would probably have been easier to have turned right (south) when I intersected the jeep road at 12,900 feet and followed the road a short distance to the short-cut trail, then followed the jeep road around the south side of the 13,800-foot knob on the south ridge and on up the jeep road to its end on the saddle between the 13,800-foot knob and the summit. This would have been slightly longer in miles, but would have avoided a lot of tedious scree and snow-covered talus and 100 feet of elevation gain during the return trip. The summit ridge, from the 13,700-foot saddle up, is straightforward. You can follow the normal summer route without venturing out onto the potentially avalanche-prone slopes on the east side of the ridge. I cached my ski poles at the saddle at the base of the summit ridge and used an ice axe (advisable) but did not need the crampons I brought.

I hung out on the summit for five hours, shot sunset on the summit, then descended at night via my ascent route, using a GPS to relocate the correct point for leaving the south ridge and begin my descent down the rib on the west flank of Antero. In the dark, it would have been much easier to have followed the jeep road around the 13,800-foot bump on the south ridge rather than fighting my way down the snow-covered talus of the south ridge itself in a strong wind. I camped again at timberline, then hauled my sled out on Wednesday, March 14th.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Beautiful Sunset Pics
03/15/2012 16:42
5 hrs on the summit?!? Wow. 8)


Gorgeous sunset!
03/15/2012 16:49
I was shocked too, then I noticed the 'occupation'. All in a day's work for a professional photographer eh? Superb sunset pics!

Wish I lived in CO

Worth the Wait
03/15/2012 17:05
Great Sunset Photo Op!


More Pics
03/15/2012 19:52

Summit Lounger

03/15/2012 22:49
5 hours is awesome.


03/15/2012 23:28


03/17/2012 03:15
Fantastic pictures! Thank you for the TR!

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