Peak(s):  North Arapaho Pk  -  13,502 feet
South Arapaho Pk  -  13,397 feet
Date Posted:  07/30/2012
Date Climbed:   07/28/2012
Author:  JasonF
 Freedom of the (Lower) Hills  

Party: Jason (JasonF) & Adam (avs88fan)
Trailhead: 4th of July (near the ski town Eldora)
Route: Traverse via SE Ridge to S. Arapahoe Peak

Leave TH: 5:25 AM
Summit S. Arapahoe Peak: 8:10 AM
Start Traverse: 8:15 AM
Summit N. Arapahoe Peak: 9:25 AM
Repeat Traverse: 9:40 AM
Summit S. Arapahoe Peak: 10:50 AM
Back to TH: 1:00 PM

Stats (mileage/vertical gain): 10.2 miles & 4,168 feet (per GPS); Roach's "Colorado Indian Peaks" guidebook indicates 9.2 miles and 3,560 feet

Prelude to a Traverse:

freedom (n.) absence of confinement or restraint (Webster's dictionary)
freedom of the hills - being given the keys to mountains via experiential knowledge

"...The beating of my heart is a drum and it's lost and it's looking for a rhythm like you,
You can take the darkness from the pit of the night and turn it into a beacon burning endlessly bright,
I've gotta follow it 'cause everything I know, well it's nothing 'til I give it to you." Jim Steinman, excerpt from "Making Love Out of Nothing at All"

One of my dreams formed in high school was to climb the Colorado 14ers. The dream turned into reality, reality turned into a passion, passion turned into an obsession, obsession turned into "the list", the list turned into a hatred (why so many dang peaks ), the hatred turned into a rededication to the dream (which for me means God first, then family, then me) and rededication finally led to the ability to live the dream on Wilson Peak last September. Since completing the Grand Slam (all 58 14ers) I've been asked several times about what's next - repeat, do all the 13ers? My typical response is "that there are no more lists as the first list almost killed me" . I certainly have a deep respect for those who pursue lists as they are exciting and give us the desire to stay in excellent physical shape (along with many other reasons as well).

At this point in my life I'm enjoying freedom in the hills, whether it be summiting a Front Range 7er with my 8 yo daughter (who was recently diagnosed with asthma), tending to my garden in Aurora's Seven Hills, summiting Mosquito Range 13ers Mt Tweto and Treasurevault Mountain with my 10 yo son (along with the opportunity for passing along the keys to the hills), attending the 10th Royal Ranger Camporama in the Ozark hills, and finally helping my oldest daughter (a recent high school graduate) to discover her own dream and passion (which on certain days feels more difficult than climbing a 14er). The most important freedom that I'm enjoying is the perfect peace found only through a relationship with the Rock (read Psalm 31 if you want to overcome the stresses of this world).

The Traverse:

traverse (v.) to go back and forth over or along; cross and recross
forecast (v.) to serve as a prediction
friend (n.) a person whom one knows well and whom is on the same side in a struggle
gendarme (n.) a sharp pinnacle of rock on a ridge

I've had pretty bad luck with multiple peak days so I was less than enthused about doing these peaks in anything less than blue bird (i.e. no clouds) conditions. This being a true traverse scared the heck out of me even more. As the week progressed the weather forecast grew more dim for my expenditure of time. I didn't really need practice on this hill as Adam and I had just tried it unsuccessfully last year. Not wanting to disappoint my friend and best hiking partner I agreed to head out from Aurora at 3:30 to improve our chances for success (and give up my freedom of sleeping in on a Saturday morning). As we pulled into the trailhead at the break of day the Indian Peaks Wilderness (IPW) wind showed up like an old friend, along with some streaky cloud cover. The parking lot was nearly full so at least we'd be in good company to share in embracing the forecast, which was calling for 50% chance for precipitation (which in Colorado in late July could mean anything from light rain to whiteout conditions with 2-3" of snow or better yet lip-splitting hail). As we neared the turnoff for the Arapahoe Glacier Trail our spirits were lifted as the Colorado azure was in full force. And our strength was renewed on our approach to the Arapahoe Saddle as we looked past the Continental Divide and saw a sea of low hanging cloud cover - a sign of good weather for a few hours based on past experience. Now it was time to turn on the afterburners and accept this gift of clear skies. After paying a short visit to the lower southern arapahoe (and 4th highest point in the IPW) we started the fun part of the hike. We got into one section that required some Class 4 downclimbing (aka "kids don't try this at home") but otherwise it was a real scrambler's delight - solid rock was the main dish and we ate up each gendarme like it was our last meal. It would be an understatement to say we had a blast - I'll let the pics speak for themselves. As we neared the end of the traverse I said a quick thanks to the Master Forecaster for wrapping this day up in a big bow. Even as I knew this adventure was a gift, it is nothing compared to the gift that can be found only in Him (flip through John 1:1-5 if you want to start a real adventure).

Enjoy the pics and I hope you find freedom in the hills of your life

Peeking over the Continental Divide from summit of South Arapahoe Peak - Jasper Peak (12,923') and Mt. Neva (12,814') (l-r) frame the picture with Lake Dorothy in view

The Traverse, as taken from the summit of S. Arapahoe Peak & the upper reaches of the Arapahoe Glacier (part of the City of Boulder watershed)

Closeup of the North Arapahoe Peak (highest point in the IPW) summit block

Peering out into the northern reaches of the IPW with Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker in the distance

View down the Arapahoe Glacier cirque and drainage

Adam climbing the 10 foot slab that forms the 2nd crux - thanks to a great camera angle it looks much worse than it actually is (sort of)...

On our way to the 3rd crux - follow orange painted arrows and footpaths; here I believe that we aimed for the large notch just left of center

Final approach shot to North Arapahoe summit block - rock was solid and trail was typically on the ridge or just below the ridge on the western face

N. Arapahoe Peak non-descript benchmark

Another shot of the Arapahoe Glacier drainage basin - big fines from the City
of Boulder for being in this general area

The traverse from a different perspective, this time from North Arapahoe Peak

I believe this is the 3rd Class 3 crux that Roach mentions - there are two climbers hitting what I thought was more Class 4 conditions. We had to face the rock with a fair amount of exposure - a fall here would require something more than a bandaid

I'm hung up on glaciers I guess as here's another shot; Old Baldy (13,038') is the green hump in the upper right-hand corner

Shot of some climbers having successfully passed the 2nd crux (10' slab) - see, no big deal

Kids don't try this one at home

South face of South Arapahoe with Skywalker and Streetwalker couloirs - short season for these babies

Waterfall shot, feeding from Diamond Lake

Plenty of fireworks lie beyond this sign - who would have thought that sub 14,000 foot peaks could provide so much freedom?

Obligatory hero shot with the day's handiwork in the background

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
07/30/2012 15:38
Great trip report. Carlee and I are in the background of the shot you took looking down the slab! Glad you guys were able to make it to the top.

Dave B

”who would have thought that sub 14,000 foot
07/30/2012 15:44
Yeah, it's amazing what lies beyond (or below I should say) the arbitrary 14,000 foot benchmark...

Nice report of a nice climb, stop apologizing for a non myopic view of the Colorado mountains.


Welcome back
07/29/2013 18:29
Very cool to see you getting after it again. Nice choice of peaks too. Gotta love the freedom of choices.

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