Peak(s):  Blaurock, Mt  -  13,616 feet
Date Posted:  05/30/2021
Modified:  05/31/2021
Date Climbed:   05/28/2021
Author:  bmcqueen
 Spring Snow on Blaurock   

I'm quite sure this couloir has been climbed many times before, but I didn't see a trip report for it with my quick glance, so I thought I would write up a quick one. Blaurock is of course usually climbed with its bi-centennial neighbor, Ervin. Since we got chased off Blaurock by lightning 200' from the top of Blaurock in July 2020 (see JQ's report), I needed to come back solely for Blaurock. This made for a nice little snow climb and could easily be used to climb Blaurock first, then you could traverse to Ervin and descend from there.

TH - close to West Winfield
Start time - 6:46 AM
Time to summit - 3:03
Roundtrip car to car - 5:57
Roundtrip distance - 5.5 miles
Vertical feet - 3,450

My plan was to go up the gully between Blaurock and Ervin, but when I parked my car just after the first water crossing between the Winfield Cemetery and the West Winfield trailhead, I was greeted with the view below. Without continuous snow to the saddle, that route was not going to be any fun. I saw some snow on the left hand side that looked like it might go. A quick look at my map showed two couloirs on the SW aspect of the peak that looked promising. I decided I would go up the creek on the west side of the south ridge and see if the snow looked appealing from there.

View of Blaurock from my car - prominent snowline just left of center is the route I took.

I stayed fairly close to the creek through the trees, crossing it twice before coming into a clearing with a good line of sight to my options.

SW aspect of the peak - I liked the line between the trees since it went all the way to the ridge.
Better view of the entire line from tree line. My line is the deeply inset snow that hits the ridge to the left of the trees.

The right branch of the snow above me kind of looked like Michigan, so I made a mental note to turn left at Michigan, popped my crampons on and started up the mellow snow at the bottom.

Just past my left turn at Michigan, starting into the upper part of the couloir.

The snow was firm and I was very pleased that it appeared I would be in the shade most, if not all, of the way up. I had started late for a spring snow climb, walking from my car at 6:46 AM, but the aspect being southwestern made that timing work just fine.

Looking down at the mellow section from the Michigan fork.
Sense of the slope angle in the upper reaches with Sayres BM in the distance.

The couloir was definitely steeper at the top than it was at the bottom. I stayed climbers right to stay in the shade. I would guess low 40's for slope angle in the upper part. The lower part was very tame mid-30's I would say.

Topping out at the summit ridge. The far side of this snow was corniced, but the ridge is fairly broad.
Looking south to Huron and a couple Apostles.
Looking north to the summit off in the distance with La Plata behind it.

I turned left and did the couple little ups and downs over to Blaurock's summit. I need a May summit of La Plata for my grid efforts, so I was tempted to go check out the ridge beyond point 13,686 to see if it might go, allowing me to connect into La Plata's Winfield route that I had climbed a couple times before. I was concerned about the three towers I could see on that ridge, so I approached with a cautious curiosity. I also considered dropping down into the basin north of me and climbing the snow I could see going up La Plata's south face. It was fully in the sun, however, and by the time I got over there, I would be pushing my luck to climb it safely. Plus it looked like I would be committing to drop to about 12,500', which would add 1,800 vertical feet to my day.

La Plata from the summit with unranked 13,686 and my descent glissade snowfield off on the left.

When I got to the top of point 13,686, it was 11:30 AM and my legs and lungs were telling me that they weren't yet in shape to hang out above 13k for this long and bolt on other peaks across the ridge. My map showed it being about 0.7 miles across the way to gain the easy ground of La Plata's SW ridge. It looked mighty chossy in between, so I decided against exploring and made a quick descent with a pair of glissades that took me back down into the basin.

Ridge to La Plata from 13,686 - maybe another day.
Glissade #1
Glissade #2

On the descent, I stayed on the east side of the creek and about 100' above it, following a series of game trails down until I popped back out at my car. I packed it up and drove home, watching I-70 westbound getting more and more backed up as the holiday weekend got started (I took Friday and Tuesday off for my climbing days rather than deal with the traffic of the actual long weekend).

I hope this fun little route is helpful to someone later this spring or in a future spring. Thanks for reading.

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

Comments or Questions

05/30/2021 14:50
Very nice, Brad! This route now goes on my to-do list.

Tim A

05/30/2021 20:00
Thanks for sharing, I was looking for an easy snow climb in this area off the beaten track to do after Hopeful and this might be the ticket.

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