Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  08/08/2013
Date Climbed:   07/29/2013
Author:  Rick Canter
 Mt. Evans, Part One - Chicago Lakes Basin  

Mt. Evans attempt

Trip Report 4 of 7


On this 2013 tour, I had all of my hikes planned, only to get good advice from others, or simply opt to change plans. So my trip up Mt. Evans was "moved" as well, from Guanella Pass, with its swamplands and pesky willows, to the Echo Lake and Chicago Lakes route, which reached Summit Lake. From Summit Lake, I opted for the short-cut NE face route from the Mt. Evans Highway.

The way this morning started, I should have known how it would end. At 3:30 am, just as I was starting out from Frisco, I hit a deer on Interstate 70 in Dillon. A glacing blow at high speed, the rental vehicle suffered minor damage, which I later reported to my insurance company. The deer ran off and was not found in the median later in the day.

I started "late", at 4:30 am from Echo Lake. I saw the Milky Way, to be taken for granted perhaps in Colorado high country, but rarely seen in my neighborhood in Maryland. It was light by the time I arrived at the Idaho Springs reservoir and then, after sighting heavy machinery and the log cabin, I retreated to the untouched Mt. Evans Wilderness Area.

I found a bountiful assortment of wildflowers as I continued up. There were some white clouds, of concern so early in the day, but nothing ominous. I found the Lower Chicago Lake and eventually the Upper Chicago Lake. Marmots and pika greeted me from time to time. I was surprised by how lonely this place was on a summer weekday.

I started to make the grunt up the side of Mt. Warren and was surprised at how long it took to get up this steeper section. The clouds multiplied and darkened as I gained elevation here. I started to wonder about if I should take a shuttle at the summit, or at Summit Lake on the way down. I also considered a hasty retreat down to Echo Lake. Eventually, I realized the best way to proceed was to make it to Summit Lake and reassess the situation.

The clouds were getting even worse and I actually felt the need to hurry up to reach Summit Lake and its relative safety, at least there is shelter there and the possibility of a shuttle. I felt a bit sheepish as I realized my best option was to stick my thumb out and hitch a ride back down; using automation is not the expected way to safety, but I am slow in thin air. I have seen similar skies turn into nasty graupel storms within minutes.

A couple decided to park at Summit Lake and take "my" route to the summit, making my decision to bail all the more difficult to come to terms with.

It took about 15 minutes to catch a ride. The third car that went by stopped for me. This was a 20-something Russian-American lass who had already earned her masters in computer engineering. I was earning a degree in AMS; clearly we were in different spheres. As she had only been in the States for 5 years or so, she seeks out places such as Mt. Evans as wonderful outposts of American splendor.

Within minutes, I was back at my car, with its bent fender, still early in the day, and deciding to return to try again the very next day...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Beleive it or Not
08/08/2013 18:14
Same thing happened to me on my 1st attempt of Evans, made it up to the lakes and was about to start the ugly climb up to Summit Lake when I got sick. Only, I had to march back to Echo Lake, stopping every so often to puke, it wasn't pleasant, but it was an intro to the reality of altitude for a Cajun just up from the swampland!

It's good to see you out here again Rick, still plugging away I see!

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