Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted: 
Date Climbed:   08/06/2005
Author:  jho
 Princeton - Grouse Creek Trail - 8/6/05  

Hey all,

Climbed Mt. Princeton from the apparently less traveled Grouse Creek trailhead on Saturday, August 6th. This was a spur of the moment decision actually we were intending to drive all the way to Lake City and bag Redcloud, Sunshine and Handies. Alas, we got to Salida and decided not to spend another 3 hours on the road. Instead, with all of the glorious collegiates looming forth. We decided on Princeton.

Camped up on the Baldwin creek 4x4 road on Friday night and decided that the Grouse creek, altough "short, steep and ardous" was the route of choice. Hmmm.

So, we started at 7:20am directly behind two other fellas. Suffice it to say that you start climbing immediately. The route through the forest is deep, thick and lush following a raging Grouse Creek for about the first mile. Pretty cool really. Then we headed east still, straight up into the scree field to the top ridge. This is deceiving because you think... "wow, that was quick, were there." Uhmmm. No. Youre not.

From the ridge you can see Princetons summit in all of its glory still a ways off. The route from this ridge is up and over the "Point" as its called in Roaches guide at 13,971. We chose to skirt the summit of that by going down and around. It sucked. Very loose. Very crumbly, yet me, my wife and our two dogs were good for the task. Then we reached the ridge up to the summit. Another 45 minutes or so and we were at the top with many other folks who had come the normal route.

The weather held out. We summitted at 12:05. Enjoyed the view, nice temperatures and no wind. Chatted a bit then headed down from whence we had come. This time, summitted the "point" which was considerably easier than the "shortcut" we had tried to take earlier. Making good time, we just needed to head down the skree field and wed be back in the trees headed for the truck.

A slight miscalculation sent us down a steep, loose and somewhat sucky west face. That took way too long, but we made it and we were happy to be in the trees once again albeit about a 1/4 from where we were supposed to be. Then it was just a steep downhill through the forest back to the truck.

We did see one dude at about 3:15pm just heading up. We told him that wed been at it for 8 hours up to that point and that it was longer and harder than the little green line in the guidebook had let on. He assured us that hed done Pikes the day before so he wasnt worried. Uhm, OK. Whatever. He also asked us to check on his dog that hed tied up by the creek while he just bagged another peak. "sure dude, well check on your dog. Hope hes OK being there for about 6 more hours."

So, down the trail we went. Found his dog. Untangled the nylon cord from around his leg, wished him well and left him to his incessant barking. We also saw a big fatty porcupine lumbering along. That was cool. Hadnt actually seen a live one before. Then we were back at the truck and collapsed at 4:15pm. A 9 hour day and another tough summit. Thank you God.

Thats it. If you want a challenge on Princeton from another direction. Try Grouse creek. If not, stick to the normal route.

Until the next mountain. Bye.

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