Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  04/23/2012
Modified:  04/25/2012
Date Climbed:   04/22/2012
Author:  RJansen77
Additional Members:   mainiac24, Fisching, SurfNTurf
 Taking a breather on Lindsey  

From Little Bear to Lindsey:
Taking a Breather

Mountain: Mount Lindsey (14,042')
Route: North Face with standard gully
Climbers: Greg (gregory_fischer), Jeff (SurfNTurf), Rob (RJansen77)

Three weeks ago, our group of six managed a successful climb of Little Bear in mixed conditions via a less-than-common route. I can't speak for the others in our party, but I stumbled down the Lake Como Road feeling like I had just completed the Longs-Wheeler-K2-Chipotle traverse. While I recovered physically over the next few days, my mental state had taken quite the beating from that peak. Even a climb and ski of Mount Hope a few weeks ago couldn't seem to shake off the spell Little Bear had cast over me, and despite hearing positive reviews of the snow conditions in the Sangres, I struggled to round up the motivation to head down there again for a Lindsey attempt. Then, on Wednesday of last week, Jeff (SurfNTurf) woke me from my Little Bear-induced coma, and a Lindsey attempt was scheduled for this weekend. The idea of a 2.2 mile hike to a campsite, followed by a 3500 vertical foot, 8.25 mile round-trip day seemed like it would be a nice, gentle breather after our "Tour de Little Bear," and I was excited that a Lindsey summit would leave me with just Culebra and Humboldt to complete the Sangres. Proven friend and partner Greg (gregory_fischer) joined us to create a strong trio.

We left Denver around 1:45pm on Saturday and immediately jumped on I-25 north, bound for the Springs. Quickly realizing that the trip wouldn't happen if we continued in that direction, we regained course. Several hours and three stops later, we approached the town of Gardner. Views of the Blanca and Crestone groups greeted us, and our spirits were high.

Expert driving by Jeff and abundant rock removal by Greg and me allowed us to reach the current end of the road, which is ~2.2 miles below the summer trailhead. There are several downed trees beyond here, as well as snowdrifts that will likely persist for a couple more weeks.

We started hiking at 7:30pm, and quickly lost the sun, opting to camp in an obvious clearing on the right side of the road.
Jeff on the brief hike to our campsite

We set camp as the sun vanished, and scanned the sky unsuccessfully for meteors until around 10pm.

The alarms went off at 5:20am, and snooze buttons were immediately hit. It had dropped below freezing overnight, and once again I found myself not wanting to exit the comfort of my sleeping bag. Once we heard Jeff stirring, Greg and I were up and ready. A 6:30am departure saw us at the trailhead maybe 30 minutes later.

Blanca in the morning, it's very impressive from this area

Greg in the meadow, with a sun-washed Blanca looking on

The trail began to disappear under snowdrifts, and we were able to walk over the snow until the river crossing with minimal post-holing. After this point, however, we began plunging to our waists and opted to strap on the snowshoes. We quickly proceeded through the forest, following a faint track that had been left by prior climbers, and reached the gully described in the route description. The elevation gain began in ernest here, and we pushed for treeline on fantastic, frozen snow.

Looking up from where we gained the gully

Greg ascending the gully to treeline

After the top of the gully, Lindsey shows her face

We reached the top of the gully, and continued into the basin as Lindsey began to show herself. Opting to stash our snowshoes, we took a break to hydrate, down some calories and slap on the sunscreen. We followed the gradual snowslopes under a gorgeous Sangre de Christo sky.

Greg and Jeff ascending into the basin

Blanca and Ellingwood dominating the view to the west

Jeff contemplates a free-solo of Gash Ridge

The snow was frozen and allowed us to move quickly, and before we knew it we were staring up at the Lindsey / Iron Nipple saddle. Picking our own lines, we ascended scree and loose talus, and after grinding upward toward the sun we reached the saddle. Views of the Sangres, the San Luis Valley, Iron Nipple and Huerfano surrounded us.

Greg grinding toward the Lindsey / Iron Nipple saddle, with Jeff at upper right

Snow coverage in the basin

Climbing toward the sun

Nearing the saddle, Lindsey looms tall

Jeff charges toward our goal

With the other peaks surrounding us, we stared up at our main goal. We had planned on making our route decision upon gaining the saddle, and opted to proceed closer to the mountain before electing an option. The class 4 section on the ridge appeared to have some snow, and the idea of descending over to the North Couloir only to regain that elevation wasn't the most appealing thing. As we continued beneath the ridge, we noticed a boot ladder ascending the standard gully, which sealed it for us. Crampons, helmets, and axes were donned at the base of the gully, and we began climbing the standard couloir.

Peering up the route from our crampon point

Greg leading the charge

Jeff climbing

Greg nearing the constriction

Jeff approaches the notch

An idea of the conditions on the upper mountain

The final stroll to the summit

Perfect snow and an existing boot ladder lead to a fast ascent, and before we knew it we had reached the notch at the top of the gully. It was at this point that Conor (mainiac24) caught up to us, and joined in for the final ascent. The upper slopes held a mix of rock and snow, and we stayed off the rock when possible, reaching the false summit shortly after leaving the notch. Crampons came off, and a few minutes later we reached the summit of Lindsey just under five hours from camp.

Jeff, Greg and myself on top of Lindsey

Conor on top

My best Crestones zoom

Little Bear, Blanca, Ellingwood

We ate, took photos, admired the spring Sangres, and discussed our descent route. Jeff walked over to the top of the North Couloir, and noticed that it was completely filled with snow. Rather than descend mix class 3, we figured a plunge-step / glissade down this couloir, followed by minimal elevation gain back to the saddle sounded pleasant.

We descended 100 feet of the North Couloir before coming to a realization - the snow was bullet proof, and failure to arrest a fall could lead to an unpleasant outcome. At this point we turned upward and regained the Lindsey summit, traversed to the false summit, and descended the class 3 rock and snow to the notch at the top of the gully.

Upon reaching the gully, it was a quick plunge-step back to the saddle, where we de-layered and admired our work.

Looking down the gully

A look back at Lindsey

Several glissades and pleasant snow walking had us back to the snowshoe stash before long.
Strapping these to our packs, we glissaded the gully. The snow eventually became too soft to glissade, and at the bottom we donned our floatation and descended to the river. This section wasn't without postholing however, as I went stomach deep several times. Eventually we reached the river, and crossed a log with our snowshoes on. There were no casualties during this crossing.

Ending the day with some fun

A look back from near the trailhead

From here, we put it in cruise control and reached the meadow before long. A quick descent to camp, the shouldering of heavy packs, and an easy 30 minute road hike had us back at the car around 4:45pm.

We picked up some chocolate milk (required for post-climb) in Walsenburg, and stopped for burgers in Pueblo before chasing the silhouette of Pikes Peak north, back to Colorado Springs and eventually Denver.

In short, it was nice to unwind from our Little Bear adventure with something a bit more traditional. A beautiful basin, a fun snow climb, and a new Sangre summit put smiles on our faces as we discussed future plans.

See you at the Spring Gathering!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice work sirs!
04/24/2012 02:59
Great photos of the approach and the gully; sorry the class-4 was not in play this time but no matter... Snow technique always looks more bad ass than climbing that gully in shorts and trail runners as are my photos. Congrats on another great summit!


04/24/2012 03:19
Great report and Ihad a great time. Thanks for letting me tag along.


An apology
04/24/2012 03:35
I'm sorry you had to wake up to the sound of me putting on socks. I forgot how much you both enjoyed the predawn Justin Bieber tunes. If I want to call myself a friend and climbing partner, I should have provided it for you.

A fun time, as usual. So what if my car needs an alignment?


Great Hike
04/24/2012 13:33
Liked the pics, thanks for sharing. You guys are definitly hardcore.


Well look at you boys
04/24/2012 13:39
I'm a little disappointed that you didn't go for the Lindsey/Blanca combo, but I guess your effort was sufficient. Great work once again my friends. I hear Culebra calling...

I Man

Very cool
06/20/2012 13:38
Nice TR Rob, and I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the views so much. Congrats on getting another peak closer to your goal, Jeff!


Looks like fun!
04/24/2012 14:34
Glad you guys had a nice day out there, and it must have been nice to ascend that dang gully with snow! Seems like you had a good group and showed Lindsey who's boss

Scuba Steve

You made the right decision
04/24/2012 14:48
I climbed the North Couloir on Saturday (actually the rocks next to it) and your ascent appeared much easier. Nice job on the summit and for finding some of my lost gear.

Matt Lemke

Chocolate Milk???
04/24/2012 15:22
What is it with all you Colorado natives and requiring chocolate milk after a climb? I'll be the evil one here and say IT IS DISGUSTING!! Real milk is where it's at!

That aside, nice report. I think I'll take the easy road on this one and wait a month. My face will thank me


River crossing...
04/02/2015 19:45
Seems to be a non-event for you guys. This was the highlight of my trip last June! Nice work.


Is this Lemke guy serious?
04/24/2012 17:25
Last time I checked, chocolate milk is real milk; and it's real chocolate. It comes from real cows: real, brown, cows. 8) Nice work, fellas! Sorry to miss this one.


04/24/2012 20:10
Wish I could a made it for this one guys. Looks like an awesome trip. Whats next after the Spring Gathering?


04/24/2012 20:26
Thanks for the kind comments everyone!

Conor - No problem, it was great to meet you and share the climb.
Dan - I traversed to Sneffels during the descent, can send you the .gpx file if you want it.
Aaron - I can't imagine that gully in summer, I'd be on the ridge for sure!
Steve - glad we found some of your gear too, hope we can meet up soon. Thanks for the beta on your descent also.
Matt - None of us are Colorado natives, but I like most milk.
Ryan - Post gathering, not sure. If I get Humboldt that Saturday I may try a Collegiate on Sunday, and I know we've got some more couloirs in mind...


09/24/2012 15:44
Thanks for taking the time to post this for us, Rob. Also, kuddos on the title for the climb; I have nothin' on that.



04/25/2012 03:49
Looks like it was beautiful day on a stunning mountain!


Great report!
04/25/2012 13:37
I really enjoyed looking at your pictures many of your shots mirror the pictures I took on my hike up Mt. Lindsey a couple years ago....but yours have snow! Looks like a great time!


03/10/2013 20:23
Guys, What type of vehicle did you use to get 2 miles from the trail head?

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