Peak(s):  Bald Mtn A  -  13,684 feet
Date Posted:  12/15/2019
Modified:  12/16/2019
Date Climbed:   11/16/2019
Author:  supranihilest
 Not Another #$%!ing Bald Mountain  

Super special secret subtitle: The Seventy Seven Sub-Summits of (Frozen) Hell

Bald Mountain is an extremely creatively named bi-centennial 13er southeast of Breckenridge that stands largely alone. It's near a number of other 13ers that could possibly be linked together in a big day but really is best done by itself. Oh, and did I mention it has the best name of all time? Bald Mountain, guys! Check out that name, wow! No other mountain has such a unique and divinely inspired name. None. Certainly not the 20 other mountains in Colorado also named Bald Mountain, or the 51 with Bald or Baldy in the name, not to mention that there are 96, yes 96 peaks/points in Colorado with any variation of "Bald" in the name (foamy spittle flies about in apoplectic rage) but this is the biggest and therefore the best Bald Mountain in a sea of impostor Bald Mountains.

Bald isn't particularly difficult mountain and would make for a quick, easy jaunt for my friend Michelle and I. I wanted to do the southwest couloirs but with Boreas Pass closed that added 13 miles to the day, plus I wasn't sure if we'd find no snow or pure sugar snow this early in the season. Instead we settled on the north ridge which had easier access and would get us home by mid-day. Since Michelle is training for Denali she loaded up a pack with 27 pounds of water to lug up the mountain, while I decided to keep going as light as I could. We both wore lightweight footwear (trail runners for me and hiking shoes for her) instead of boots though, since the trail/road from the closure point was packed very well due to the numerous hikers, skiers, and dog walkers who live locally and use the peak. If the road were open we probably could have driven a little farther, though the road continues up to over 12,000 feet, according to maps.

19965_01
Baldy Road from the gate. The mountain is officially named Bald Mountain and the road (and local-friendly name of the mountain) is Baldy.

We encountered various melted or icy patches along the way and while we wore spikes to avoid the usual step-slide thing on snow they weren't necessary. The road splits several times and at the first junction we took a right; left would have taken us to the Iowa Mill and probably would have been faster but the branch we took appeared on the map to take us to the same place eventually. As the road curved off away from where we went some tracks led off through the forest in the general direction we wanted to go. I asked Michelle "adventure?" and of course she said "yes!" so off into the woods we went, trying to stay directly on top of the tracks as best we could since they were nicely supportive and the snow elsewhere deep and unconsolidated.

We bobbed and weaved through the trees for a while as the tracks intersected other tracks and eventually we began to get views of Bald's long north ridge. It had some mining structures on the flank and a set of radio towers on the crest but otherwise was largely just open tundra and rock with a layer of snow on top. Not a tremendously inspiring peak, with a name to match, but it'd do for a quick training climb.

19965_02
The northern part of the north ridge with the mining structures visible.
19965_03
Snow, snow, snow. Staying right on top of the tracks kept postholing to a minimum.
19965_04
False summit number one of infinity.
19965_05
Up and up.

We hit another road and hiked a short distance to the mill. A couple of other hikers with two dogs asked me about my inReach and whether I'd recommend it. The answer was (and still is) a resounding yes! Michelle, who also has one, readily concurred. After a couple of minutes of talking to them we hiked up to treeline on the well packed road and were dumped into a sea of tracks. Ski tracks, dog tracks, boot tracks, megalithic space-faring ectoplasm tracks, you know, the usual. They were everywhere, crisscrossing and intermixing and generally just being an indecipherable mess that made it hard to follow any well established, well packed way up. We were able to mostly follow good tracks but there was sporadic postholing and punchy crust and the typical variable early season conditions one usually finds. Views of the Tenmile Range to the west across the Blue River Valley and Breckenridge were wonderful and helped tip the boredom scales on Bald from soul destroying to merely mind numbing.

19965_06
Tenmile Range with Quandary Peak on the far right, Mount Helen (the dry, flat looking peak), and Peak 10 dead in the center. Numerous other peaks are visible but generally too hard to distinguish (which pyramid is which?) for labeling.
19965_07
The remaining northern part of the Tenmile Range.

Conditions improved as we rose higher on the mountain, drying out incrementally as we went.

19965_08
Guess what this is?! It's a false summitttttttttttttttt!
19965_09
One woman. One mountain. Twenty seven pounds of water. Who comes out alive?

By now my hands and feet were getting cold. It wasn't all that cold as far as ambient temps went, somewhere in the low 30s or high 20s probably, but the wind was just belting across the ridge. We weren't moving all that quickly and I wasn't generating enough heat. I started scooting quickly ahead and pacing and doing air squats to try and stay warm. When we got to the ridge crest, if you could call it a crest given its width, more and more false summits appeared around the corner. I expected this since we were nowhere near high enough but for some reason it also just kind of annoyed me. This Bald Mountain had many more Bald Mountains we'd have to surmount to get to the one, the true, the only, the Bald Mountain of Bald Mountains. Other mountains to the east and southwest were now visible from our higher vantage.

19965_10
Lumps. Lumps everywhere.
19965_11
Peaks on the east side of Hoosier Pass. Mount Silverheels is the big girl in the back, Red Peak A and Hoosier Ridge in the center, and Red Mountain C on the right. I won't rant about how many mountains are named Red, at least not in this trip report, I promise. (What's up Whiley!)
19965_12
Mount Guyot to the east. I climbed this earlier in October via the south ridge, which is the ridge that makes up the entirety of this photo from right to left. It's a fun route, go do it!

The ridge proper was now the driest part of the mountain. Occasional snow fields still swept across the ridge but all of them had tracks through them that we could use.

19965_13
You guessed it! False summit!

What was once an open tundra slope down below became studded with small, rough, rounded bumps and blocks up high. Most of the bumps probably could have been bypassed on talus but why do that when there's scrambling to be had? Rhetorical question, I know.

19965_14
The first section of scrambling. A few of the right facing dihedrals held some simple Class 3 scrambling.

These little bumps along the ridge came one right after another, up and down as we worked our way along, clamoring over what was probably half a dozen or more of these little guys. Aside from the first bump, which went at Easy Class 3 via the "most difficult" line, all the remaining ones went at Class 2 or Class 2+, and a couple had snow traverses with some exposure that added just a hint of spice to the otherwise plain route. We made sure to scramble as much as possible to keep things as fun as possible.

19965_15
More rocks to scramble through.
19965_16
Rocks on a mountain. On a Bald Mountain. Hohoho!
19965_17
Talus leading to a... (finish the sentence).
19965_18
One of the Class 2+ sections.

I was freezing my tuchus off by now and was wearing every scrap of clothing I had with me. I was still doing the run-ahead-and-dance-vigorously thing in an attempt to stay warm but my poor fingers and toes, usually nice and warm without much effort, were painfully cold. Michelle understood my need to run around like a maniac so she did her thing while I did mine. She was warm, somehow, and wasn't even wearing a hat or gloves!

19965_19
Nearing the summit.
19965_20
Final pitch.
19965_21
Most of the north ridge in view.

I had run quite a ways ahead and gotten to what I thought was the summit. It was marked as the summit but by god when I got there it looked like I was on top of yet another false summit! A farther, higher-looking bump way along the ride sure appeared to be the summit. Michelle was quite a ways behind me so I ran ahead to tag the farther summit and be back before she made it too far off the first summit, if it was indeed the true summit.

19965_22
This is on the summit. Or is it? That sure looks like the summit over there, doesn't it?

Though a short, broken, cliffy area ringed the bottom of the second summit there wasn't really anything between except more Class 2 talus. It didn't take me very long to traverse between the two, about twenty minutes or so. Because I was speeding along I was finally regaining some warmth, which was nice.

19965_23
That's the smallest nipple ever on top there.
19965_24
A few minutes from the top.

Of course I got to the top and the summit I had just left once again looked taller than the one I was on! What the hell! These are nearly identical!

19965_25
I am on yet another false summit after already being on the real one. Oh the inhumanity!
19965_27
It's meme time.
19965_28
At least the scenery was good. Southern Tenmile Range and northern Mosquito Range.

I didn't bother celebrating on false summit #134,814,930 and started heading back to intercept Michelle before she got too far off the true summit. I caught her not too far from the top and we reascended where she dumped out the extra water she'd carried up since it wouldn't do her any good on the descent.

19965_29
Back down we go.
19965_30
Michelle coming down one of the steeper, semi-scrambly bits.

As we descended it began to snow lightly, just a few flakes at a time. The skies had darkened a little and the flat light made it a little difficult for us to find the exact tracks we ascended on, so we took a slightly different path down. This time instead of taking the detour through the forest once we hit the Iowa Mill we just stayed on the road, since it was a lot faster and easier.

19965_31
The flurriest of flurries coming in.
19965_32
The Iowa Mill named after Iowa Hill. This processed gold ore from the Carbonate Mine.

We made it our goal not to slip and fall on our butts on the ice patches on the lower road, lamenting that we have both totally ended up ass over teakettle after slipping on ice with the car in view. I've done it right in the parking lot more than once myself. It's a great showcase of my mad skillz as a mountaineer, obviously. We ended up both being fine, having successfully climbed yet another 13er and not fallen down on it once, go us! Bald Mountain isn't a particularly exciting peak and the name makes my teeth grind but it'd probably make a nice half-day outing in the summer. The summit is nice and flat so it might even be worthy of a picnic, but beware, lurking after each false summit is yet another false summit... dun dun dunnnn.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Michelle D.
Trailhead: Baldy Road (520), winter closure
Total distance: 8.80 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,436 feet
Total time: 6:16:27
Peaks: One ranked thirteener

  • Bald Mountain A, 13,684'

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Baldy Road Winter Closure Bald Mountain A¹ 3:47:38¹ 3:47:38 0:00
Bald Mountain A¹ Baldy Road Winter Closure 2:28:49 6:16:27 Trip End

¹This location and time are to the farther summit of Bald. I believe that it is the lower of the two summits (just based on a hunch from being there) and this is backed up by maps marking the northern summit as the true summit.

Version history:

Date Notes
December 15, 2019 Original publication.
December 16, 2019 Added version history, uploaded GPX that I forgot to include with original publication.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 27 28 29 30 31 32


 Comments or Questions
Stratosfearsome

You'll really tear your hair out
12/15/2019 19:00
when you climb all the Grizzlies and Reds!


supranihilest

Bald Red Grizzlies
12/15/2019 19:07
I've done a few of the Reds and Grizzlies already, and Grizzly doesn't bother me much, for some reason, but Reds... Oh man. I feel a lot like your profile picture: "Old man yells at cloud"!


whileyh

Red
12/15/2019 20:22
My soul lit up upon reading your mention of âœRedâ
Yes, yes i am obsessed with not only all the mountains that are named Red, but that have slopes dressed in red too ... perhaps one of the biggest reasons the San Juans stole my heart.
Red mountains, Red peaks, Red cones, and all the variations of Red like Ruby and of course Vermejo, which means âœreddishâ, over by the biggest and baddest Red in all the land of Colorado.
I think you still need those summits eh?
(I sense an Operation Ginger Blood pt.2...)
Good job on beautiful Bald and soaking in the views of the long line of Tenmilers. Thatâs the best part about these Front Range peaks across the street.
I canât even remember the route I took last summer. I just bolted up & across that ridge run as fast as I could for some cell service to call a tow for my 4th flat tire of that year... so this was nice to experience Bald through your lengthy description ;)


Jay521

And don't forget sheep...
12/16/2019 10:45
Lots of sheep mountains, too.

Nice report Ben. You had me laughing quite a bit on this one. As an aside, there are only a couple false summit when going up the south ridge - should you want to add to your false summit count...


Chicago Transplant

Or Greens
12/16/2019 13:34
Lots of Greens as well, especially in the lower elevations.

I always think of this one at the original bald, I guess because its the one I see the most (and have climbed the most!). All the others are just imposters! By the way the north (true) summit is a whopping 5 feet taller than the southern one.

The early explorers weren't very original in their naming. Generic Colorado route description: Follow clear creek to blue lake, then climb up to halfmoon pass and follow sheep ridge to the summit of Grizzly Baldy. It combines well with Green Mountain, especially if you descend the red gully!


Kevin Baker

trail runners?
12/16/2019 13:39
You might want to ditch the trail runners when you're dealing with cold and snow. You might be out of luck if you're forced to spend the night on the mountain.


supranihilest

Comment Commando
12/16/2019 14:25
@Whiley: I knew you'd like the shoutout. I think our back-and-forth on Reds and similarly over-named peaks has become a thing every single time we climb together so I had to make mention of it here too. Let's just say I need basically every summit in the San Juan and Sangre, including the Culebra range (with exception of Culebra and Red). But we already talked a bunch about that yesterday.

@Jay: There's a whole herd of Sheep Mountains out there! baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Thanks for the comment, I had to make this one funny or else no one would have read it!

@Chicago Transplant: Also lots of Blacks, Whites, various body parts, etc. I think your comment takes the cake, I'm laughing hard at your route description, it's a little too accurate!

@Kevin: The trail runners was a conscious decision, one I made only for myself, and is one I don't take lightly in these kinds of conditions. If it was a remote peak, or I was alone, or had to break trail (I knew how much traffic Bald receives with its proximity to Breck), etc. I would have opted for boots, but nonetheless your comment on safety is appreciated. For others reading this report and/or the comments, Kevin's point is valid: use appropriate gear for you, and don't let what I did here or what others do or say convince you to do something you aren't 100% comfortable with. Safety is always the number one concern in the mountains.


Marmot72

chuckle
12/16/2019 19:29
Yeah, way too many balds/baldys ("baldies?"), but I don't mind them too much, as I went bald in my late 20s. What really gets me....all the imaginatively named blue lakes. Really? Blue Lake? Like they don't all reflect the sky. I swear 1 of every 4 lakes is named blue lake. And then 1 of every 7 or so is named green....because, duh, the water reflects the trees around the shoreline.


supranihilest

Blue Lakes give me the blues
12/16/2019 19:49
@Marmot72: Those too. A search on the USGS Geographic Name Information System for 'Blue Lake' with the state restricted to Colorado gives 37 results, of which several dozen are actually Blue Lake(s). That's madness. I'm just really not a fan of anything that's oft-repeated to the point of becoming a cliché, like Bald, Red, Blue, Bear, whatever. I don't think every mountain or geographic feature has to have a unique name, as that'd be darn near impossible, probably, but it's silly having 90+ mountains with the same name in just one state. I really kind of like the mystery behind the peaks that are just a letter or a number like some found in the San Juan and Gore. Peak Twelve? Peak F? "V7"? "S4"? Gimme that weird alien stuff any day over a forty ninth Green Mountain. The letter number combos are bizarre and enigmatic at least.


piper14er

hmmmm
12/17/2019 12:28
so if it Bald Mountain why is it Baldy Road? or maybe I missed it in the report as I zoned out after the first 300,000 false summits


supranihilest

Bald vs Baldy
12/17/2019 12:44
@piper14er: Haha. I don't know, you'd have to ask one of the crazy Breckeridgeriteingtons. If I had to hazard a guess, and I will, it's because they too are bored silly with the name Bald and wanted to give the mountain a pet name. To be fair I did only mention the Baldy Road?name thing once in the TR and never again. Anton Chekhov is turning in his grave.



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