Peak(s):  Culebra Peak  -  14,047 feet
Date Posted:  01/25/2019
Date Climbed:   01/20/2019
Author:  Aostrander
 Culebra Peak 1/20/19 6:45am - 5:30pm adventure   

About a month prior the Climb a friend of mine sent out a FB message to see who was interested in climbing Culebra on the 20th of January. It would be his 57th 14er . Several were interested - I had had a recent tough experience climbing solo so even though this one cost $150 to climb I decided to go ahead and set it up since eventually i'd be climbing it anyway - why not make it #19? I went to the Ranch's website, filled out the credit card sheet and emailed it in. I got a text that it had processed and I was signed up to climb that day. It was on the calendar.

As the date got closer more and more people dropped off the list to go, and it ended up just being me and the one who had planned it. The Saturday before the climb I packed my gear including snow shoes, microspikes, ice ax, face protection, very warm gloves, hand/foot warmers etc. I brought chips, string cheese, turkey rolls, a variety of candy and (5) 16 oz bottles of water.

I tried to go to sleep early, but didn't end up falling asleep till around 8pm (that's practically my normal bedtime anyway...) I didn't sleep very wall as usual for these early hikes - too worried i'd forget something or not get up in time... My alarm went off at 2:30am - I started the coffee pot, finished packing, shoved some food down and put my base layers on including fleece tights, Under Armor fleece sweat whisking base shirt with a smart wool layer on top of it, and a vest on top of that... By 3am when my climbing buddy arrived the car was packed - he threw his gear in the back of my Outback and we were off.

It took about 2 hours to get there - the moon was super bright and the drive went pretty fast. We arrived at "the" gate at 5:15 am - and were greeted by 3 licking barking cute dogs. We tried to nap for a half an hour before gearing up. around 5:45am we got out of the warm car - it was around 0 degrees if I remember correctly. I got my hand and foot warmers ready, snow/ski pants on etc. At 6:05am we realized something must be wrong... no one came to open the gate. Thankfully we had some cell service so we looked at the Ranches direction page only to discover we were not at "the" gate, we were at "a" gate. Like some random person's gate petting and being licked by some random persons dogs... OOPS. Off we went to find "THE" gate. Google maps had failed us, but and the actual Ranch website set us right. We arrived at THE gate around 6:30 and were hiking by 6:45am. It happens... oh well.

boot pack trench after the 4X4 Road

We hiked up the 4x4 drive road for around 5 miles - maybe more. it was a stead up hill, but nothing TOO strenuous, just long. We arrived at the trail head to find a boot/ski packed trench (thanks to whomever for that!) - it was a beautiful day - the snow was sparkling and smooth, the sun was out... we kept on climbing and the trail kept on getting steeper.


the Trial slowly turned right and up a ridge at around 13k ft. After that we dropped our snowshoes and marked their location. We saw three sets of skis left also. We continued on down the ridge to the right then started a large bowl shape assent to the top. It was hard being that high for that long - It was slow going because the snow was deep, it was windy, we were climbing up and down and over rocks. The summit was a long way off but after about 4 false summits we finally made it and caught up with the skiers.

Final stretch.
at the top
Amazing views
Looking back at the peak

It was pretty cold at the top so we did not linger long. We started our decent around the bowl. I was pretty sad to see we had to climb up the final ridge before climbing down to our snow shoes - that was really hard because my legs were very tired by then, but we made it. After getting our snow shoes back on the trail to the 4x4 road was not bad... and the sun started to light up the clouds, so the views on the way down were stunning.

Coming down...
Loved seeing this!
One more...

After starting down the 4x4 road I started getting blisters from wearing snow shoes for so long, it was pretty uncomfortable and wow was that road LONG!!!! We made it back at 5:30pm - and I sure was happy to see the office around the corner. Next year I want to get a ski set up - skiing down would have been the way to go. It ended up being around 18 miles according to my phone, and over 5k elevation gain.

Sunset and almost down!

We let ourselves out the gate with the key code provided in the office, it's the lock box on the cable, not the one that's actually attached to the gate. We missed that detail probably just being tired.... but I called Carlo and he was able to help us get out... The drive home was ROUGH. I was so tired but managed to stay awake. the moon was amazing - and I had planned on staying up for the eclipse but by the time I got home my ambition for staying up for ANYTHING even the moon was gone. It was an epic day - as they pretty much always are when climbing mountains - it was harder and farther than I though it would be. I would recommend being very fit and determined if you choose to climb this peak in the winter - but well worth the effort! Happy Climbing everyone. The Mountains Called - I went - and it was wonderful.

Happy to be down! what a day!
The Moon coming up on our way out.

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

Nice work!
01/25/2019 19:18
Great area, love image #6. Thanks for sharing!

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