Peak(s):  North Arapaho - 13502
South Arapaho Pk  -  13,397 feet
Date Posted:  08/11/2013
Modified:  02/16/2016
Date Climbed:   07/14/2013
Author:  MtnHub
Additional Members:   kimo
 The Arapaho Traverse  

The Arapaho Traverse

July 14, 2013

North Arapaho - 13,507'
South Arapaho - 13,397'
Fourth of July Trailhead, IPW

Climbers: Anna, Kimo, Peter A, & MtnHub (Doug)
Starting Time: 0420
Return Time: 1130


I love Colorado! I keep finding new places to visit and experience all the time! While I could always keep climbing and hitting 14ers til the end of my days and never tire of them, I keep discovering new and beautiful areas I've never even heard of.

Last year I was introduced to the Tarryall Mountains in the Lost Creek Wilderness and was delighted and amazed with the unique and unearthly beauty I found there. Lately I've also heard many members rave about the Indian Peak Wilderness and the gorgeous Gores. This year I finally made it into the IPW and was not disappointed. Next year, hopefully the Gores!

In recent years I've also come to know many members pretty well. I've shared many exchanges in various posts, PM's, and emails with some of you and you've grown to become my second family. I feel a very special bond with you and keep hoping to meet more of you and even do a climb together.

In the past I've mostly hiked solo. Living in Iowa definitely has its drawbacks in finding willing and suitable partners, and even in my own family there is no one quite so obsessed with the mountains as I.

With the experience I keep gaining every year I've also grown to love more scrambling routes and broaden my exposure (literally!) to more difficult climbs. But this also makes my loving wife more nervous about my personal safety when I'm alone. The recent news about Steve Gladbach and others has not aided this sentiment, so I'm continually seeking out more people to expand my partner base.

This past April I started a thread asking for recommendations for climbs in the IPW. Several people offered suggestions. (Thank you everyone! I LOVE this community!). I even got an offer to join Kimo and Anna as they were planning to do it sometime this summer! I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting both of these two veteran hikers and actually do a climb with them! We checked our schedules and set a date for July 14.

Two days before we were to leave for CO, my wife tripped over our garden fence and broke her left arm just below the shoulder. We debated at length whether to go at all or whether I should try to go by myself. We finally decided to go anyway as I would at least be able to help and assist with her care, and as the doctors told us, she could be sore at home, or she could be sore in CO.

The first couple of days of our previous vacations we will usually visit relatives in the Denver area. This gives us a chance to catch up on family members we haven't seen for a year but it also provides a day or two for me to acclimate a bit before doing my first climb. This year we eliminated the family gatherings entirely, as the last thing Karyn needed was to be around a crowded house packed with adults and little kids and dogs running around. The thought of someone or something accidentally bumping into her freshly injured wing was not pleasant.

So this year we drove directly to our friend's place in Longmont. Peter had previously lived in Iowa City and relocated to CO a few years ago. We had done a few climbs together in the past and he was planning to join us at least initially. It would be somewhat of a test for his knee, which he injured the prior year in a skiing accident. Being alone in a quiet, peaceful house would be the next best thing for Karyn to have while we tested our legs on the trail.

The Climb:

We meet Kimo and Anna at the TH around 0400. The weather forecasts predicted a moderate chance of storms so we wanted to have an early start. We begin at a leisurely pace and Peter does well at keeping up until we reach the trail junction. At this point he suggests that we continue onward, and he will go at his own pace and see if he can make it to the saddle between Old Baldy and South Arapaho.

By the time we leave the valley trail and we're ascending the slope, the skies begin to brighten with the rising sun. The valley below spreads out in glorious array -- a beautiful sight! There are a few clouds above us, however, that we will have to keep a close eye on.

The dawn's first light.

Anna & MtnHub coming up the slope; Mts Jasper (L) & Neva (R) across the valley. (photo by Kimo)

As we near the saddle, the trail passes through a wonderful display of wildflowers:
Kimo & Anna nearing the saddle; the east side of South Arapaho is lit up by the sun.

After a short breather, we start over to the steep slope up to South Arapaho.

Kimo about to lead us over to the ridge.

There are occasional orange markers on the rock highlighting a suggested route. For the most part it drops down from the ridge on the west side.

Anna looks up at one of the orange markers.

The scrambling thus far is fairly straightforward and easy. We reach the South summit at 0800.

Anna & Kimo on the summit of South Arapaho. North Arapaho behind them.

The Traverse across the peaks narrows and the route finding becomes a little more challenging. We tend to take a lower route bypassing some of the more difficult parts of the ridge.

More scrambling fun.


Anna finds a nice perch to rest for a minute. (Lake Granby in the distance.)

Looking back along the Arapaho Ridge with the Arapaho Glacier

When we approach the class 4 crux, we opt to bypass this as well looking for an easier way around. Looking at this now, however, I have to say that I may have to come back to it again sometime in the future and give it a try.

The famous class 4 crux. (photo by Kimo)

Anna & MtnHub climbing up a narrow spot. (photo by Kimo)

Clouds start to spill over us as we approach the summit of North Arapaho. It has taken us a little over an hour from the South to reach our destination, but we don't dawdle. We grab a quick bite to eat and then pack up and begin our return. The clouds are a concern now and we will have to retrace our careful steps back across the ridge.

Anna & Kimo reaching the North summit.

By the time we are descending to the saddle, the lovely, sunny view we had earlier this morning has changed dramatically.

Anna & MtnHub coming down to the saddle again. (photo by Kimo)

What a different view from before!

The clouds continue to follow us down the slope to the valley trail. By the time we join it, we are frequently engulfed in mist. It is reminiscent of some of the trails I've done in the White Mts of NH where this can be a common occurrence.

The clouds follow us down.

Still walking in the clouds! (photo by Kimo)

One of the reasons I was anxious to finally meet Kimo was so I could finally put a face to his name. For a long time he was always the person behind the camera. His stunning photographs were always amazing to view but since he usually hiked alone, you never got to see what he looked like. In a few more recent reports by other people, you would occasionally see a partial portrait of him, but he was still usually half hidden behind snow goggles, or sunglasses, or looking behind a beverage can as he was drinking. He was still an enigma to me and to many other members.

A little while back when Anna was cranking out heavy duty snow climb after snow climb every week, she would report that she always rewarded herself with a pie afterward. This got to be a tradition with her and comments posted sometimes inquired what kind of pie she ended up having. I thought it might be a nice gesture to offer a pie at the end of our climb.

The enigma revealed! Pie at the trailhead!

Doug, Anna, and Kimo. My new extended family!

Because of Karyn's injury, it was a little disappointing for us to miss seeing her family this year. But at least I had the opportunity to meet and hike with some of my new extended mountain family! Thanks so much for a wonderful time!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

08/12/2013 23:16
Is that the secret to getting Anna and Kimo to the trailhead that early? Hmmmm...

Nice report on a very fun route. Thanks for sharing.


Sounds like a nice visit!
08/13/2013 21:33
Too bad about your wife's arm. But it sounds like a pretty nice visit. Wish I'd been able to get out with you this year. Hopefully, we can make it happen next year.


08/15/2013 14:45
Doug, I had forgotten how pretty that traverse is ... the photos certainly drive that point home. I especially like the summit shot with Kimo and Anna, and the one with the three of you in the parking lot. The Man and I hope we can get together next year (after Karyn's FULL recovery ) ... I'm sure that bookstore/coffee shop will still be here waiting for us. Thanks for posting, my friend. Happy trails!

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