Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  10/01/2013
Date Climbed:   09/29/2013
Author:  lpeabbles
 Windy Day on Princeton  

I managed to drive my 2002 Subaru Impreza up to the radio tower the night before, although I'm not sure I would suggest this to someone who is especially fond of their vehicle. She did ok, but clearance was an issue in some places, and there is a gigantic root ball (maybe 4ft by 5ft) blocking the road about 2 miles up that is very tricky to get around. I managed to squeeze by it by having my friend get out and coach me around, but it was a little hairy there for a while. I saw some larger vehicles up above so it must be possible to get something bigger around it, but be prepared for a bit of white-knuckle maneuvering.

We spent the night at the bend in the road next to the radio towers. It was very windy, so it was a little tough to sleep. We got up at 5 and started walking up the road around 5:30. The walk up the road didn't feel very long, and provided amazing views of the sunrise as we progressed up through the switchbacks. After doing about 3ish switchbacks on the dirt road, the trail started on our right. It was pretty hard to miss, look for the stone steps. Even in the dark, we had no trouble finding it.

Once you start on the real trail, you go through a beautiful meadow. The sun was coming up behind us, and with Princeton towering ahead, it was a gorgeous hike. This part of the hike is a little deceiving, it make the peak look much closer than it is! We gradually moved onto the boulder field and enjoyed some pretty stable walking through the gullies. Once you get to the rock wall blocking off the old trail, look up to your left to see the new trail up to the ridge. We saw several other groups that missed the wall and continued up the old trail, and they all said that it was real difficult to find once you got further along and that they regretted it, so keep your eyes pealed for the new trail.

Up on the ridge, it started to get out-of-control windy and cold. We had to stop every so often to brace ourselves and hold on to keep from being blown off! Hiking along the ridge was one of the more discouraging parts of the hike (it started to feel like the peak was getting FURTHER away!), but stick with it because it's worth it. The trail became hard to find the closer we got to the peak, and we ended up making the mistake of bearing right around the face and having to scramble up some pretty steep (and unstable) rock for the last 45 minutes or so. We were excited to find that we were the first summiters of the day! Once on the summit, the wind was so strong we couldn't hear each other talk, so we didn't stay long. I wore heavy-duty alpine mittens that I thought would be over-kill (they weren't), and the nozzle on my Camelbak froze several times.

From the top we discovered where the REAL trail was, so we walked the correct way down the ridge. I would suggest people doing this in the future stick to the ridge while they're ascending, it was a much easier than the convoluted route up the face that we took! Going down was much faster than expected when using the correct trail. There were already some places with ice and snow on the upper parts of the mountain, but most of it disappeared once we were back down by the gullies.

We made it back to the road at 12:15pm, making our total RT 6hrs 45min including the walk up from the radio towers, but we caught a ride with some other hikers back to my car on the way down. After a very cold and windy hike, I was looking forward to a beer at Eddyline!

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