Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  06/16/2006
Date Climbed:   06/14/2006
Author:  cgrossman

 Mt Lindsey - Northwest Ridge  

I drove to the Lily Lake TH on Tuesday afternoon, June 13. The driving information taken from this website was perfect. The dirt road does indeed get steadily worse as you pass the various landmarks. Unless you really don't like your car, and don't mind getting stranded, don't even think of taking a "normal" passenger car up that road. Maybe a high-clearance 2WD vehicle could make it, maybe. My 4WD Nissan Pathfinder did fine. As a driver, I'm neither overly cautious nor overly aggressive, and it took me 1 hour to drive from Gardner to the trailhead: 30 minutes to drive the first 16 miles, and another 30 minutes to drive the last 6 miles. The views along the road and at the trailhead are simply spectacular. The Huerfano River valley might just be the most beautiful scene I've seen yet in Colorado, simply postcard perfect.

There are numerous spots to park and camp along the road just before the trailhead, and space for maybe 10-15 considerately parked vehicles at the trailhead parking area. It was only 6PM when I arrived at the trailhead, and since it would be light for another few hours, I decided to do some reconnaissance. I wanted to check out the first part of the trail and determine if I would need special gear for tomorrow's stream crossing. After walking for about 20 minutes on essentially level trail, I passed the Lily Lake Trailhead sign and soon thereafter came to the stream crossing. The photo on this website is indeed where the main trail crosses the stream, and I didn't want any part of that. Upstream about 10 yards is a log pile. I tested the logs and all except one were completely stable. The only "floater" just moved vertically and did not submerge when stepped on, so I decided it was OK to use and that I wouldn't need any extra gear to cross the stream.

After a restless night in the truck, I started hiking at 5:30AM Wednesday morning. I followed the excellent route information taken from this website and arrived at the saddle between the Iron Nipple and Mt Lindsey about 7:35AM. The North Face route still had a couple small snow patches in the gully which I wanted no part of, so I headed up the Northwest Ridge route. Everything went fine until I had an attention lapse and got too high on the first "Sharp Point" and had to backtrack to reach the base of the crux wall. By now, the wind was quite gusty and causing me some concern. I wanted to try the big center crack on the crux wall but it was just too windy for my comfort. Instead, I took the left route, which seemed more protected from the wind. I reached the summit of Mt Lindsey about 8:45AM.

Did I mention that it was windy? I hunkered down in the summit shelter, ate some snacks, took some pictures, signed the register, and started back down. Because of the wind, I decided not to descend the ridge, and headed down the North Face route, more easily acquired from above than I'd expected. Lucky for me, I appeared to be alone on the mountain, as I imagine that route would be a real mess on a crowded day. I was able to avoid the few remaining snow patches by staying to my left on the descent. I eventually hooked up with the traversing trail that took me back to the saddle.

I had wanted to enjoy a leisurely descent, and up to now the weather had been great, with just a few wispy clouds occasionally diluting the bright sunlight. But as I descended from the saddle, dark clouds started gathering across the valley over Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point, and they were headed my way. So I picked up the pace and got back to the big stream crossing a little after 11:00AM. I was back at the trailhead and headed home by Noon.

One last note about the road: it is indeed very narrow. The vehicle traveling uphill has the right-of-way, so when you're driving out, take note of potential passing spots, as you may have to back up to one if you encounter traffic.

That's all for now, thanks for listening.


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