Arrow Pk - 13,803 feet
|Vestal Basin #3 Arrow Peak|
The final day of climbing from Vestal Basin began with a cloudy morning. We took our time this morning and were met at the base and top of the first hill by a group of accomplished veteran climbers on their way to Vestal's standard route. After watching the clouds grow then stabilize and shrink we engaged the wide Arrow Peak Ramp.
The base of the ramp is very smooth, look for the obvious weakness just above the lower part of the ramp and climb many grassy ledges to make it onto the ramp.
It starts very easy class 2 and slowly angles towards the sky. Great scrambling with very little loose rock the lower parts of the ramp went quickly by.
Before it gets really high above the main ramp you need to exit onto the right upper ramp. This avoids many big cliffs and large drops. We spotted it from a long way away and it's clear when the transition changes from class 2 to 3 and then 5. Move over when it is convenient if it is hard you've gone too far up.
Stay near the upper ramp's east side, on a small rib there was tons of handholds and no loose rock. The gully on the right side of the upper ramp is filled with loose rock and smooth slabs around it. At one point you actually traverse around the rib on the Left (east) side on a well used climber's walkway.
The route then leads back to the right aiming for the notch between Arrow and North Arrow peak. The chimney is to the left of this notch by 40 ft and then ascends across Arrow peaks upper North face, actually passes the summit and then cuts back right at the very end. We choose to climb directly up to the notch via a class 4 chimney and then ascended the ridge proper to Arrow Peak (class 4+).
The view of North Arrow from the saddle was amazing and Marc and I decided to trade summit pictures. He started up North Arrow and I climbed the ridge up Arrow.
When Marc was close to the summit of North Arrow a mini-fridge sized rock he was standing on moved and as he jumped off it cascaded off the North West edge of the tower exploding into a thousand rock shards that continued down into the gully for at least a minuet. Marc was visibly shaken and without his quick reflexes he might have followed the rock down the mountain. Luckily there was no other parties on Arrow peak that day, I'm pretty sure the rocks fell harmlessly in the gully that isn't climbed but anyone below us would have been in a very bad place.
I gained Arrow Peak and shortly after Marc joined me.
Success on all of our peaks was great, it was amazing to look to the East and see all the Mountains climbed.
We spent a good amount of time on the summit and left it quickly via the standard path.
Unfortunately after descending to the upper ramp Marc's Go Pro camera slipped and fell 90' and shattered into many flying pieces. It seemed to explode in slow motion with parts ejecting 200' down the ramp and gully. After over an hour of searching we found the busted camera, parts of the case, a piece of the mounting, and the battery. BUT NO MEMORY CARD!!!!
All the HD movies of our climbs (especially Wham Ridge) lost... If anyone finds a black memory card on Arrow's standard route that would be priceless to us. Marc joked that Arrow Peak tried to claim his life but when he was too fast it took his Go Pro instead.
After searching in vain for the Memory card we made short work of the rest of the ramp and were in the upper basin in no time. Lounging around for a while the Vestal Peak part caught up with us at the steep trail. Although there were alot of people in the Vestal basin that week everyone was very nice and super positive. I'm glad to see so many good people out doing the things I love.
We climbed the hill back up to camp broke it down and started the long steep trek back to the Beaver pond. The sky thundered for a while but never really got to raining until we were mostly down. BTW the vestal creek trail does not go near Vestal creek almost the whole way. It stays North of the Creek on the steep hill and without this trail climbing into the basin would be all but impossible with a heavy pack. Also there are around 50 downed trees between the beaver pond and lower meadow. Exhausted we made it to the pond early and got to see 3 different Moose do Moose stuff. (drink water from a lake)
We were asleep early due to the evening rain. I got up early enough to see the sun rise and we leisurely packed up and after one last visit with our friends.
We then made our way down to the Elk Creek trailhead with more than an hour to spare before the train arrived to take us back to Silverton. What an amazing 5 days in one of the best places in Colorado.
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