Peak(s):  Venable Pk  -  13,334 feet
Date Posted:  07/30/2019
Date Climbed:   07/26/2019
Author:  glett74
 Gorgeous Summer Hike on North End Venable Comanche Loop  

Five of us backpacked in about 3.65 miles on the Venable Trail. There was a dilapidated log cabin with many good campsites nearby. We picked a site just off the south side of the trail about 20-25 yards. Water was only another 30-40 yards downhill to the south. We hit the trail towards the summit of Venable Peak at 5am the next day. The sunrise was just beginning as we quickly left treeline around 11,700'.

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5am Sunrise

A ten-point buck followed briefly just below us. The trail leads gently west about 0.6 miles to Venable Lake. There were a few fisherman the day before who reported wonderful fishing in this high alpine lake.

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Venable Lake

We continued past the lake walking the gentle Class 1 climb west toward Venable. Another 0.5 mile and we reached the beginning of Phantom Terrace. This is one of the most thrilling and beautiful sections of trail I've experienced. This nearly 0.5 mile section cuts into the east shoulder of the sharply slopped Venable Peak. Trekking this moderately exposed section at 6:30 am was a rare site. The new morning sun bathed the cliff face in orange light. It was a very refreshing experience. The end of the Phantom Terrace delivers you to the saddle between Spring Mountain and Venable Peak at nearly 12,800'.

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Beginning of the Phantom Terrace
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The Saddle looking southwest across the Sangre De Cristo Range

From the saddle, the Venable Comanche Loop continues south along the west face of Spring Mountain to the saddle between Spring and Comanche. In order to summit Venable Peak, you now must either choose a wayfinding route up the south slope of Venable Peak or climb the ridge which starts north and then levels out taking you west toward the summit. For our ascent we choose to wayfind across the south slope in a direct route to the peak. During this last pitch clouds were rushing up the slope on which we climbed from the western valley floor. Again, a rare and breathtaking moment!

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Caption Here

We gained the east ridge just about 100 yards east of the summit. The remaining route was simple and easy as we settled on the 13,240' summit by 7:30am.

Once we enjoyed the summit for 20-30 minutes, the decision was made to descend along the east ridge all the way to the saddle. The southern slope of Venable proved to be more difficult than expected and we all wished we would have taken the ridge from the saddle. So we descended the east ridge, which then turns south in a straight and easy shot to the saddle.

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Caption Here
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The point where east ridge ends and south ridge begins
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Descending toward saddle

I would recommend this route up as well. A couple of our buddies decided to summit Spring Mountain as well. They reported later that day back at camp, the hike up Spring Mountain was not as difficult as it first looked and recommended we make the attempt on another trip. They both liked Spring Mounting better than Venable as the entire hike from the saddle is a ridge hike with incredible views both east and west.




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