Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Iron Nipple  -  13,500 feet
"Huerfano Pk"  -  13,828 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2014
Modified:  06/23/2017
Date Climbed:   07/19/2014
Author:  michaelgrundy
 Barking Humans and Mt. Lindsey  

Peaks : Mt. Lindsey, Iron Nipple, Huerfano Peak
Route : Northwest Ridge up, North Face down
Time : 7 hrs 45 min

Friday July 19, 2014

The goal of this hike was to bag my 39th unique 14er, Mt. Lindsey and also get Huerfano Peak (since it is a centennial and that will be my next goal anyhow). I left work a little early in an attempt to beat the bulk of the traffic out of Denver so that I could get down to the Lily Lake trailhead at a decent hour. Unfortunately, traffic slowed me down considerably through Denver. Once I got out of the metro area, things sped up and I was cruising my way south toward Pueblo. After a short pit stop for dinner at Chipotle, I was back on the road and heading for Gardner. I saw the 'Gardner Weather Station' on my way through and started picking my way up to the trailhead. The road wasn't too bad and only had a few interesting spots. First, I like to note that the road becomes pretty narrow and since I was driving an F-150, I brushed a few small branches with my mirrors. Not a big deal, just something to note. Second, there is a nice sized mud hole about 2 miles below the trailhead. It wasn't too bad but I was surprised to see that a small Honda sedan had made it through and all the way to the trailhead. Just goes to show you that you can get anywhere with the right line through the rocks and a little aggressive driving in mud!

I arrived at the trailhead a little after 8 PM and began the search for the flattest spot possible to park the truck. This is when I met Rich. He came over to me and asked if I was there to hike Lindsey, to which I replied that I was. He pointed me in the direction of a decent flat spot right next to his truck and we began talking while setting up our respective sleeping arrangements. At the same time, on the other side of the small parking area was a pair of guys that were gathering wood for a campfire. The sun was starting to set and Rich and I were both ready to get some sleep when the fun started.

BANG!!! A rather loud gunshot rang out in the valley. Since we were still setting up our respective vehicles to hunker down for the night, Rich and I shared a glance as if to say "really?". Apparently these two guys were going to be a pair of noisy neighbors. I crawled into the bed of my truck, under the tonneau cover, to try and fall asleep. Several more gunshots rang out and the annoyance level was starting to increase with the passing of time. It is kind of hard to fall asleep when there is gunfire happening next to you. After what must have been a few beers later, the two guys decided to turn on their old beat up truck's stereo and blare some kind of rap music that by comparison would have made Eminem's lyrics sound jovial. Luckily, I always carry a pair of earplugs with me so I was able to drown out most of the music except for some of the low end bass. Now that the gunfire was over with, the beat that I could hear in my head was almost soothing and I could fall asleep.


What the hell?!?!? And again... "AAHH ROOOF!!" Apparently one of the guys thinks he is a dog and likes to bark at the top of his lungs. Now how am I supposed to fall asleep with a random guy barking at random intervals? It is now approaching 9:30 PM and we have already experienced about a half dozen gunshots, loud and obnoxious rap music, and several "dog barks"... it was time to move. I slid out of the bed of the truck, approached Rich's truck, and told him that I was relocating. He agreed, and we both got in our trucks to drive down the road a little ways to another flat spot. On the way out of the parking lot, the two guys started barking again and also saying things that would lead me to believe that they were extremely proud of running us off. (You can't reason with people like that.) Rich and I both found a decent flat spot about 150 yards down the road and hoped that this spot would be better. It was. Sleep was pretty decent after this point.

Saturday July 20, 2014

I woke up around 3 AM and laid there until my alarm went off around 3:30 AM. I began to slowly get dressed and geared up for the hike. I spoke with Rich before he headed up the trail and watched as he took off up the road to the trail. I spent another 15 minutes getting ready and I finally left the truck at 4:15 AM. The path down from the trailhead was pretty nice and before I knew it, I was arriving at the creek crossing. I couldn't find an easy way of crossing without getting my feet wet so I shed my shoes and socks and walked across the creek. I put my shoes and socks back on and set a goal of trying to catch up to Rich.

I caught up to Rich in the gully just before reaching the upper basin. I had been pushing myself pretty hard to catch up to him so needless to say, I was pretty out of breath. We stopped and chatted for a bit and then took off together up the trail for a little while. He hadn't taken a break yet this morning so he decided to slow his pace down while I took off into the basin.

First light in the upper basin.

A short while later, I was ascending the slope up to the saddle and taking in the views of Blanca Peak and Ellingwood point to the West. Finally at 6:20 AM, I topped out on the saddle and was getting my first views of the upper portion of the route.

Alpenglow on Blanca and Ellingwood.

Upper route on Lindsey.

I planned on taking the ridge route to avoid the gully as much as possible. I figured that since I had just done the Little Bear / Blanca Traverse, the ridge couldn't be that bad. I grabbed a snack and started ascending the ridge toward the headwall. The path along the ridge wasn't difficult to follow and before I knew it, I was staring up the wall looking at the possible options of ascending.

Looking back at the saddle.

The headwall. I took the crack just right of center.

I decided to go straight up the center crack and a few short class 4 moves later, I topped out and was on easier terrain.

Summit of Lindsey from Northwest Lindsey.

I crossed over "Northwest Lindsey" and continued along the rest of ridge to Mt. Lindsey. Summit!

It is always nice when you have the summit to yourself. I snapped a few pictures, called my wife, had a shot, and spent a total of 15 minutes on the summit. The weather to the west looked as if it could rain at any moment. I knew that the weather forecast called for a chance of rain after noon and I didn't want to get caught in it (even though it was only 7:15 AM). I wasn't sure at this point if I should go for Huerfano Peak. I knew if I had any chance of getting that in, it was time to get moving.



Yours truly.

For whatever reason, I decided to descend the gully -- bad move of the day! Just before reaching the top of the really loose rock, I met back up with Rich. We stopped and talked again for a few minutes and he shared some pointers on where to be in the gully. We parted ways pretty quickly since we both wanted to avoid the weather and I started picking my way down the gully. The slope was pretty slippery with all of the loose rock and the steep slope.

The gully.

I had a slight slip and got a small cut on my arm, nothing big, and descended the gully without making any rocks fall. I made it back to the saddle at 8:15 AM and had a decision to make: go to Huerfano Peak or descend.

Me with Lindsey in the background.

The weather had seemed to get better during my descent. The dark clouds now were gone and the sky had turned a pretty shade of blue. I decided to go for my secondary goals of climbing Iron Nipple and Huerfano Peak since the weather seemed to be cooperating. I took off across the saddle and gained the summit of Iron Nipple pretty quickly. I didn't hang around for very long (since the weather seemed to be unpredictable) and descended off the north east side.

Friend on the mountain.

After some talus hopping, I was ascending the grassy slope of Huerfano Peak and before I knew it, I had made it to the boulders just below the summit. I topped out on Huerfano Peak at 9:00 AM. I only spent about 15 minutes on the summit and wanted to get back to the saddle as quickly as I could.

Lindsey from the summit of Huerfano.

Me on the summit of Huerfano.

I made it back to the saddle at 9:45 AM and started to head down in the valley.

Looking down into the basin from just below the saddle.


I caught back up to Rich at almost the same place I met him this morning and I walked back with him. During the descent, we had learned that we crossed each other's paths earlier in the season when we both climbed Mt. Sneffels on the same day. What a small world! We made it back to the trailhead at 11:30 AM, passed by the truck of the two partiers from the night before, and back to my truck shortly after that.

View of the valley on the way out.

View from my truck just below the parking lot.

This hike was very enjoyable and easy at the beginning but definitely increases in difficulty after you reach the saddle. I wish I would have had more time to spend on the summit but with the weather being unpredictable, I didn't want to risk it. Overall, a great day in the mountains!

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

07/21/2014 15:44
Nice job on the climb, I was up there and did the ridge as well that day. The headwall is a fun climb for sure!

Earlier, those guys had been coming around to all the camps asking if people wanted to party and get drunk or high. Glad all that finally calmed down...

Wish I lived in CO

You just can't reason ....
07/21/2014 15:49
.... with people like that. There was a Lindsey trip report similar to this back in '08, and another one a few years ago. Same guys? Anyway looks like it was great climb after all. Lindsey was my first 14er, a special place I'll have to get back to sometime.


07/21/2014 16:16
Nice work on the selfies, no stick required. Also, those guys at the TH embody the spirit of #mountaineering.

Chicago Transplant

Quite an experience
07/21/2014 16:31
You can't reason with people like that, but you can scream at the top of your lungs ”BEAR IN CAMP” 5 or 6 times when you walk by their camp at 4 in the morning on your way up the trail... at least that is what I would do

Sounds like a good trip otherwise!


07/21/2014 16:34
Probably not the best thing to imitate knowing that they had a firearm and were not afraid of discharging it in a National Forest. I am just happy they didn't mess with my truck!

Doug Shaw
what a difference a day makes
07/21/2014 16:37
According to my friends who were up there on Friday morning that mud hole was originally a mud slide that completely blocked the road, full of trees, rocks, etc. Someone had cleared it by the time they came back out Friday afternoon.

Either that or my friend just didn't want to get his Jetta dirty.

Call the sheriff
07/21/2014 19:55
Call the sheriff, the locals have a history of hating hikers.


Interesting Trail Head Experience
07/22/2014 02:24
That was definitely an interesting TH experience and not one that I want to repeat. Ditto on the ”..glad they didn't mess with my truck!”.

Super trip report Mike and a super job on Lindsey, Huerfano and the Iron Nipple.


I liked it...
07/22/2014 17:16
and then I saw the terrible towel... Looks like a fun scramble on those peaks and a solid day!


07/22/2014 21:02
Thankfully I haven't had to deal with the TH antics some have experienced! That sounds... scary.

Glad the rest of the trip improved! (minus the Lindsey gully descent)


Trailhead Rednecks.....
07/22/2014 21:46
Simply put, you can't fix stupid. That trailhead seems to attract lowlifes.

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