Peak(s):  Cronin Pk  -  13,870 feet
Cyclone Mtn A  -  13,596 feet
Carbonate Mtn A  -  13,663 feet
White, Mt  -  13,667 feet
Date Posted:  01/12/2018
Date Climbed:   12/23/2017
Author:  Santanoni
 13ers near Antero in progressively worse weather   

Picked some 13ers that I figured would be accessible, make for a good ridge traverse. I went from Browns Creek TH and used Browns Creek trail (starts at about 8900, so easy to access). I had been up Little Browns Creek trail to do Antero in the fall, so I had some familiarity. Did this from 12/22 to 12/23.

I brought camping gear, spikes, axe, but not snowshoes. I was going to bring them, but it looked so dry overall. This was a mistake, as I would find on the way up Browns creek. The snow was manageable up until about 10500, then it became a real slog without snowshoes.

Starting off there was no snow, then just a dusting.
Shallow, sunny at first

The deep shaded valley was holding snow like nothing I had seen thus far this winter, probably ideal terrain to preserve snow. Someone had been up there, but turned around leaving unbroken snow.
In the shadow of Shav and Tab near midday, probably no sun in here during parts of winter

As a result it took me from about 10am till 4pm to get up to my camp spot around 12100. I thought about trying to grab a peak or two right then, but I figured rest and an early start was better than trying them in the dark. Lots of rocks were needed to get the tent stable, even with snow stakes the powder was about as useful as air. I put rocks on the snow stakes. I had my four season tent, but the wind was really ripping, making a ton of noise. Weather was already getting worse. Not the best sleeping conditions.
Ridge of Tabeguache in background

In the morning, I debated whether to go up at all, so I did not get the earliest start. I decided to go for it after all, and started with Cronin.
I went up part of its south face and then used the E the ridge. Had been wondering about possible avy issues, but snow was pretty well blown away up here. There was enough visibility to see my route at least somewhat in advance.
Cronin is mostly out of frame to the right, Lo Carb vanishing ahead.
First light, not looking so great.

Gaining the ridge of Cronin.
E Ridge of Cronin, probably the nicest weather wise all day.

Summit of Cronin was windy, but not much worse than the ridge. That E ridge of Cronin was the most protected high ridge of the day.
Summit of Cronin, Looking S toward Lo Carb. Which can't be seen

Moving on toward Lo Carb, the winds increased and visibility was getting no better. The notches in ridges had fierce winds all day, this one being no exception. I dropped a little off the ridge in this notch because it was possible and it helped cut the wind.
I skirted the silly named Lo Carb on the east side. Some hard, icy snow made it so I had to chop a few steps here and there.
Now Lo Carb is visible. Very mild peak, so I could traverse as I wished.

Looking beyond Lo Carb, I could see Cyclone at this moment. The winds were allowing Cylcone to live up to its name. There were times when I would crouch due to the winds being strong enough to knock me around. Mostly in notches, but sometimes in unpredictable locations.
Still, I managed the Cyclone summit.
Cyclone when it was visibile.

The summit canister, not much else to see.

Carbonate was not too far, so I figured I would at least round out my trip with that. I felt like visibility might have gotten a little better, but really, it was in and out, sometimes I could see a good portion ahead, sometimes not. Ice crystals were flying through the air, but not really snowing.
I made it to carbonate, and tagged both little possible summit lumps on this rather broad peak.
Can sorta see Carbonate.

Having ski goggles would have been better, but mountain bike style sunglasses work pretty well. Not quite managing 0 skin exposed.
Mostly covered up

The summit was one of these bumps.
Summit somewhere around here

Probably this one.
Maybe this one

Looking back at cyclone is when the weather turned snowier, visibility worsened. Lots of snow in the air now.
Cyclone was vanishing on the return trip

I retraced over a good portion of Cyclone, and then a good ways up Lo Carb as well. I was getting more used to the nasty wind and it felt faster to mostly stick to the ridge. I used the broad east ridge off Lo Carb to descend to the upper basin where I camped. I managed to avoid much snow, which was good given my lack of snowshoes.
This was as much as I could see on the descent.
Can't see much of descent ridge, but some.

Back at the tent, I had to decide what to do. The Browns Creek valley was low angle enough that I figured it might be a pain with all the snow on the way down just like it was on the way up. I had done little browns creek before, so I decided to jump over the ridge, and head down that way. I figured it was no worse and might be better.
Could see some of the White mtn ridge back at tent, but that line across was likely a cloud base I was about to head into, which was nasty.

Packing up the tent was tricky, but I left a few critical rocks and snow stakes right till the end, and then removed those only once it was folded flat and I was rolling it.

The road up to the plateau between Antero and White was nice, a quick walk. I entertained the idea of hitting Antero, but having walked up into what was likely the clouds, weather was really crappy and I at least had the sense not to even try that. High winds with blowing snow meant I could not see Antero or White, just some of the high plain. I had my compass out at this point to avoid getting turned around.
Road up between Antero and White, Cronin. Cronin would be visible ahead if there was visibility

I decided to try and hit White. Not a great idea. It looked like a road went a good way up it on the map so it might okay to dash up, and it did, but this was a really nasty ascent anyway. Driving snow, knock me down winds periodically. My glasses would ice very quickly. I could not face into the wind for sustained periods without ice issues, which made for some odd manoeuvres. I could also not see the summit until really close, visibility was a few hundred feet up there. At the top I found two summits, tagged both, and then headed down, which was more into the wind. I could feel all the ice on my eyebrows and had to crouch a couple times kind of in a ball for a de-icing of my sunglasses. Being in the cloud had a lot of negatives.
The summit was one of two bumps, hard to get perspective in this weather.
White mtn summit.

Or perhaps this was the summit. I took my ice axe back if you wondered.

The ice was sticking to any hair effectively. Would have kept glasses on 100% of the time but I needed to de-ice them periodically.
Ice building on any hair. The ice on my eyebrows did not completely fall off till I reached the car.

The compass saw me through visibility issues, and I got down to my jump off point, a junction of mining roads. With the conditions like this, having the compass and being really comfortable using was a very good thing. Lots of ways to get turned around. Having a clear map of the terrain was good too, but mistakes just judging terrain when you can barely see it are easy. Or I could break the compass and really have a great time. Time to head down.

A compass bearing and awareness of the rough location of the trail relative to the creek guided me down, as the creek gully was apparent enough.
My trip down the valley.

It was not till treeline that I could enjoy the wintry wonderland. Snow was accumulating fast here where the winds had lessened. Little browns creek valley/trail did turn out to be a better choice. It was steeper, so despite no recent trail breaking, I could plunge through it with generally less effort. I could find the trail in places, but it would vanish frequently. Snow diminished greatly going from 11250-10250k feet, and by then I could follow the trail most of the time.
I finished just after 7pm, with no more than a cm of snow at the TH elevation of 8900 ft.

The few inches of snow and substantial winds forecast was plenty to make lousy visibility and some really nasty conditions especially in certain locations. It was snowing more than forecast anyways, typical for a mtn forecast. I used to go up in the mountains back in NY on the worst days of the year for an odd sort of fun. This was a bit much compared to that, the last peak in particular which was in a snowing, windy, cloud. I'll have to restrain my bad weather aficionado tendencies before it gets to that point.

Summary profile and map:
A profile

And a map. 24+ miles, 8000+ ft of gain.

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

Great write up.
01/13/2018 10:40
Glad you made it back okay. A compass is always a must, and situational awareness can save a trip.


Gotta love 13ers...
01/15/2018 08:06
Thanks for putting this one up!


Tough Conditions!
01/15/2018 10:33
Nice job getting these peaks done in tough conditions. I am interested in trying out this route in summer!

It would be good that time of year
01/16/2018 23:08
I could see it being a very nice trip in summer. I could also see linking up with some others in better conditions, as it was these are enough to handle in winter. The camping would probably be really nice up in that basin too, as opposed to a sweeping winds like I had.

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