Peak(s):  Baldy Cinco  -  13,383 feet
"Baldy no es Cinco"  -  13,313 feet
Date Posted:  05/28/2019
Date Climbed:   05/24/2019
Author:  WildWanderer
 Que es "no es"? Es lo que es.  

“Baldy no es Cinco” 13,313 & Cinco Baldy 13,383

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RT Length: 10.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 3357’

So far today nothing was going as planned. I took a 2 hour nap before getting up at 10pm to drive the 6 hours to the trailhead. I’d wanted to hike Point 13,811 today but ended up getting “lost” (apparently there are two Williams Creek Trailheads geographically close to each other) and long story short the workaround was a 3 hour drive, so I missed my window to climb Point 13,811 safely today.

I’d driven all this way and wasn’t going to drive back without a hike. I switched my hiking plans around and decided to hike Baldy and friends today instead. I drove faster than I should have and I made it to the Spring Creek Pass trailhead at 6:45am (after leaving at 10pm last night). It had snowed overnight and it was really cool seeing a black moose in contrast to the white snow on the ground and hanging from the trees. This lifted my spirits a bit (moose was too far away to get a good picture).

When I arrived at the trailhead it was covered in a layer of ice a couple inches thick so I decided not to park in the parking lot but just at the entrance to the road.

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I’m sure this was going to make some people mad when they arrived later in the day, but I tried to allow as much room as possible so after the ice melted other vehicles could drive past. And to be fair, a snow plow had put a foot or so of snow at the entrance to the parking area, so I guessed they expected people to still park on the road.

I’d planned on studying the route while spending the night at the trailhead (you know, after hiking point 13811 today), but since that didn’t happen I was just going to bring along my notes and hike from memory. On a positive note, I was starting this hike in the daylight, so while there was no visible trail route finding was easy. I’m pretty sure this is the first hike I’ve done this year that’s started before sunrise.

I crossed the road and a small creek and looked for an obvious sign of a trail. There wasn’t one, but I knew I was aiming for the bowl, so I started hiking southeast. Once again, I was glad I was doing this in the daylight.

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The trail follows the Colorado Trail, but with all the snow last night there was no clear path to follow. I was excited when I saw a trail marker (woot! I was headed the right way!)

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From this marker I turned left and headed towards the trees

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Looks like someone lost a snowmobile…

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I encountered a clearing and once again entered the trees, aiming for the gully that led to the bowl/mesa

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Wow! This was so cool! I made it to treeline and followed this drainage path. At first I wasn’t sure this was the correct way (it looked a bit dangerous), but it was

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Why was it dangerous? Check out those cornices! They looked ready to drop at any moment (and in fact, a few already had).

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OK, so I headed directly up and over the lip of a bowl that’s steeper than it looks

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And everything was white. I was on top of a very large mesa that had just been dumped on with snow.

View from Mesa:

I turned around to look at my path back down the bowl

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Time to get my bearings. The mesa was large, but the peaks I’d intended on hiking were obvious. I wasn’t able to find a lot of information about these peaks, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect or the best way to attempt the climb. I decided to cross the mesa and pay attention to optional routes, making sure to look behind me every so often so I wouldn’t get lost on my way out (a real consequence in all this snow). The wind was erasing my tracks as soon as I made them.

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As I got closer to “Baldy no es Cinco” (which means “Baldy is not five” in Spanish) I noticed a trench and was worried I wouldn’t be able to cross the area, but by sticking to the right (east) I was able to avoid losing too much elevation or entering the trench

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Here’s the route I took up “Baldy no es Cinco”

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Please note, I would not advise taking this route up. It gets very steep and I needed to use my ice axe and crampons, and it felt sketchy at times.

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Luckily the snow was very firm. If I were to do this again, I’d hike to the saddle of “Baldy no es Cinco” and Baldy Cinco and hike the ridge.

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The reason I hadn’t done this was my research had told me to just hike up the face (that’s the problem with no winter beta) and honestly, the snow was blinding, even with sunglasses on. You can probably tell by these pictures they’re overexposed and I’ve been trying to darken them up so you can see details. I wasn’t able to see details very well, and I couldn’t tell how big the cornices were on the ridge, so I didn’t attempt the saddle. In any event, I’d advise you to take the saddle.

The last bit to the summit was the easiest part of this climb. It was a bit icy and windy, but the ice made for great traction (the wind I could have done without).

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I summited at 9:15am. There was a massive cairn on the summit that begged to be in my summit photo.

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“Baldy no es Cinco” summit video:

I decided to take the ridge from “Baldy no es Cinco” over towards Baldy Cinco

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Also, the entire way down the ridge towards Baldy Cinco was one large cornice.

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Here’s a look from the saddle back up at “Baldy no es Cinco” and towards Baldy Cinco.

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The hike up Baldy Cinco wasn’t challenging. The terrain was a mix of ice and rock, with cornices all over

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The summit was icy rocks

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I summited at 10am

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Baldy Cinco:

Here’s looking back at “Baldy no es Cinco” from the summit of Baldy Cinco. Check out those San Juans!!!

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At this point I should have just turned around and headed back down the slope of Baldy Cinco, towards the mesa and down the bowl. In fact, this would have been another great way to summit these two peaks. (Summit up Baldy Cinco, take the ridge to “Baldy no es Cinco”, and descend using the saddle)

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But it was still really early (10am) and I knew there were more peaks out here, calling my name. I looked over at Point 13,162A and was seriously tempted. I looked over at Point 13,162A and was seriously tempted. I didn’t have any beta on this peak, other than its location. Once again, check out those cornices!!!


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What you can’t see in this photo is the dramatic drop in elevation (topo suggests 800’). I decided to go for it. Up close the cornices were intense

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I made it to the saddle and re-assessed where I was at. Here’s a look back at Baldy Cinco and up at Point 13,162A.

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The snow was starting to act up here. It was getting warmer and the snow was crunching and breaking under my feet, sending cornices falling. I was starting to get tired, and wanted to save my energy for tomorrow’s hike (which had way more mileage/elevation than today’s hike, which is why I’d initially wanted to do that one first).

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Ugh! I’d just descended 800’ in elevation, only to find a change in conditions. I decided to head back and attempt point 13,162A another day (with unnamed 13510A and unnamed 13020C as well).

I knew in my head the route back was southwest to the mesa, but the snow was seriously blinding and I didn’t know the area “that well” (read: I could see myself getting lost if I attempted to find my way back to the mesa with just a topo map). So instead of trying to route find in the blinding snow I decided to re-ascend Baldy Cinco to find my way back. Don’t worry, I didn’t re-gain the 800’ I’d lost, just enough elevation to see my way back visually (about 500’).

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I skirted Baldy Cinco and headed here (where I found a huge cairn! See, that would have been the way to summit Baldy Cinco. Oh well, today I got to be the beta).

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At the cairn I saw something green flying through the air. Cool! Someone was speedriding! They were zipping all over the mesa at high speeds. I was able to see their snowmobile sitting in the middle of the mesa as well (great idea btw).

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For those of you intending to hike up Baldy Cinco first via this route, here’s a look from the cairn up at the summit of Baldy Cinco

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From the cairn you might think you just head towards the obvious depression in the mesa, but this is not the way to exit. I was seriously glad I’d looked back over and over again at my route so I’d know how to exit the mesa. It’s not obvious. In fact, it’s counterintuitive: you head away from what looks like the exit and continue to the straight part of the mesa that looks like a drop off

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The snow on the mesa had changed dramatically: it was now quite soft under my feet and I was sinking in my snowshoes about 6-8 inches every time I stepped (quite a change from this morning). I was so excited to see the Colorado Trail marker!

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As you can see, it looks like you just drop over the mesa (which you do)

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It’s a quick drop back into the bowl. Here I started seeing snowmobile tracks (it’s steeper than it looks)

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The tracks followed mine most of the way to the trailhead. Very cool! He’d re-treaded my tracks, making the hike back easy. I wasn't sure what the protocol was for hiking next to/over snowmobile tread, so I decided to play it safe and just hike out parallel to the tracks (where possible).

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When I got back to the parking lot it had indeed melted out and there were a few other vehicles parked in actual spaces

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I made it back at 12:30pm, making this a 10.5 mile hike in 5.5 hours.

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Ok, now I was headed to fix my earlier mistake and head to the correct trailhead. Lake City, here I come!

Relive:

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
seano
Wow!
05/28/2019 16:15
It's amazing to see so much snow on the open plains. It really drives home how deep the San Juan snowpack is this year.


piper14er

skimming
05/31/2019 15:59
you said no winter beta but there are several winter ascents reported, maybe a different route not sure just skimming report, could be blinded by the snow too


zinj

Amazing
06/04/2019 22:37
Hard to believe those are the San Juans in (almost) June!



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