Peak(s):  Mt. Antero  -  14,269 feet
Date Posted:  07/22/2012
Date Climbed:   07/21/2012
Author:  claybonnyman
 Running Mt. Antero  

This is more than a quick update, but perhaps not a full trip report.

I wanted to make some observations on various modes of ascending Antero.

Having read about mountain biking, jeeping and hiking the peak, I decided to come prepared (in theory) for each method. But no matter where I started - from the 2WD trailhead on 162 or higher up at the Baldwin Creek crossing - I wanted to run part of the ascent, as I often do with 14ers, where possible.

I arrived around 8 p.m. at the lower trailhead. Everything I'd read seemed to indicate that, while steep and rocky, the jeep trail climbing southeast from 162 was doable for 4WD with reasonable clearance.

What I discovered with my 4WD Subaru is that yes, it's doable. But it was also terribly slow and frankly nerve-wracking. About 1/2 mile up the trail I found a place to turn around and head back down.

Next I considered whether to use the mountain bike I'd brought. Judging by the conditions I'd just driven, I thought that biking might be rather unpleasant, and probably slower than hiking/running. In addition, having read accounts of the descent, I wasn't even sure that my brake pads were up to the task.

That left hiking/running. And why not? I thought. After all, it wasn't as if my intention was to choose the easiest and shortest route (no matter how much my lazy side begged me to make that choice). Now there was no choice.

I am happy to report that of the 29 14ers I have now climbed, I find Antero to be the single most runnable. From the 2WD trailhead I ran much of the way to the Baldwin Creek crossing, then about 75-80% of the jeep trail ascent above the creek basin.

I left the trailhead at 6 a.m. and began running slowly up the jeep track. I can well imagine that this would be a little tricky in dim light, but the skies had lightened plenty. This is, in fact, the steepest, most difficult part of the lower portion of the trail (an argument, I suppose, for toughing out the drive - for those who must get closer to the peak).

But the track levels out considerably after about a mile, paralleling the creek far below on your left. Interspersed with a few short, steeper sections, this nonetheless feels almost like level ground while running.

The trail above the creek starts off pretty steep as well, and you will pass dozens of parked vehicles and campsites scattered around the area. But this part of the trail, too, "levels" out (relatively) as it begins to switchback up the hillside southwest of the peak. Good footing made up of solid packed sand and smallish gravel, interspersed with brief sections of close-packed scree, make for very favorable running conditions.

Near where the jeep track splits you will see a foot trail peeling off to the left heading up a steep hill. This well-established short cut saves only a very small amount of distance, plopping you out onto the jeep trail again.

However, based on Roach's description (or a misreading of it?), I headed straight up the southwest-facing talus slope, picking my way along a barely perceptible track, losing it frequently. I topped out at the high point described by Roach, then dropped and hiked along the narrow ridge leading to the final, 200+ foot ascent through talus to the summit; there are tracks both going straight up the ridge and traversing to the east, then back west.

Up top at 8:47 a.m. it was warm, without a breath of breeze. Only a few shreds of cloud to the west and I could make out numerous other 14er peaks all around. Beautiful.

On the way down I passed a couple of people. I made a snap decision to follow the jeep trail instead of returning over the talus through which I'd ascended. Judgment: Stay on the jeep track; it's faster and no doubt has less impact on the environment.

In addition, the track provided for excellent running - virtually the entire way back to the 2WD trailhead. I passed literaly dozens of 4WD vehicles crawling up to 13,000 feet - to search for gems or "climb" a 14er.

All told, the round trip (including 13 minutes on top) took me 4:53 - and I absolutely loved running much of it. And it's always a pleasure to have the top to oneself for a bit.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend Antero for anyone looking for some mountain running/training. Personally, my mountain biking skill level would have made for a miserable trip, and honestly, even for the more accomplished I question how much fun it would be.

Finally: Antero represents a longish haul, almost as long as up Longs, longer than Holy Cross. But why not do the whole thing self-propelled?

 Comments or Questions

07/22/2012 22:12
Be sure and post a user climb time.


Time amendment
07/22/2012 22:56
Just going back over my watch and this time should be 4:53 NOT including 13 minutes on top. So 5:06 including the time on top. My pardon.

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