Peak(s):  Navajo Pk A  -  13,409 feet
Date Posted:  09/16/2018
Date Climbed:   09/15/2018
Author:  ronbco
 Niwot Ridge and Navajo Peak - another perspective  

This report is just adding another perspective on this interesting route.

I started fixating on Navajo Peak about 10 years ago as I am trying to summit all the high points seen from Longmont. I had some hesitation based on seeing the white walled summit from neighboring peak climbs; it looked like a fortress that would require real climbing. But finally the year came to go for it. I had explored the Niwot Ridge last fall but a light snow had fallen then night before and so I did not go very far on the ridge. I had no idea how far I was across but it was all great climbing so I expected more of the same.

Our route was from the east and then down the airplane gully. The 4 of us have a fair amount of experience but granted none of us are rock climbers. The trip reports we studied did not mention much about the challenges and complexities of the ridge. The first part is all easy but it get's complicated and stays that way. We were not expecting what I consider about 4 required exposed class 4 moves before we even reached the actual Niwot Peak high point. Note that there is a high point with a man-made rock pile on top that is actually not the high point. As I recall, the tricky downclimbing beyond that was some of the most challenging. The rock is solid so this is not like the Bells, but there was a lot exposure and several places where we had to problem solve for several minutes and even spot each other for some downclimbing. It took several hours to get across the ridge to Niwot Peak, but it was much quicker after that. Another thing we found different than other reports is that most of the solutions around tough spots were on the south side of the ridge, not the north. Perhaps we stayed too high on the ridge in some places?

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Awesome view from low on the ridge looking into the Boulder watershed.
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Unexpectedly, after Niwot peak the rest of the way was trivial. From the top of the airplane gully to the summit of Navajo was 20 min with one 4th class move, but we could have worked around that one, as I did on the return.

To put a fine point on it, I've been on several ridges like this: Meeker, Wilson-El Diente, Arapahoe and this one is comparable if not more serious. It certainly takes as long as the Wilson ridge. Of course now that it is done I look at the ridge from Brainard lake and wonder why I expected otherwise.

This is not to say this this was not FUN! It was great. But make sure you have time, a partner to help and no one who will freak at some exposure.

What to say about airplane gully? Not a fan. One of the worst. Narrow, very steep, lots of dirt, loose rock. I'm glad we were going down instead of up. Looking up I imagined misery climbing it; crazy steep loose dirt with nothing solid and no width to switchback.

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Yeuch

Pretty exhausting trip at about 14 miles and 10+ hrs moving. It was a great day. The weather was amazing; blue sky, no wind. Great company with my son and good friends. It will be a pleasure to look up at this amazing part of God's creation with the satisfaction of having traveled it!





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