Peak(s):  North Star Mtn  -  13,614 feet
Date Posted:  03/02/2008
Date Climbed:   03/01/2008
Author:  heather14
 A Day Full of Ups & Downs  

I was eyeing the long ridge of North Star this summer during my romp up Quandary, but soon forgot about it. Then I saw it in Dave Cooper's CO Snow Climbs book and my interest was rekindled. Luckily, so was Matt's (climbinfool).

We left Hoosier Pass under welcome blue skies with our snowshoes on our packs. We soon came to the base of the sledding/ski hill. The trail went both left and right. I remembered the route description saying go right, so we did. Soon the well packed trail disappeared and we were breaking trail up the slope, needless to say the snowshoes went on. We ended up skirting across a small peak of which we could see a nice packed trail at the bottom....apparently we should have gone left at the hill. Trying to avoid an avy area we hiked across to the south side of the ridge where it was a little wind scoured.

A look at the 1.3 mile ridge

There had been a strong breeze blowing all morning and I was hoping once we reached the ridge it wouldn't turn into a repeat of last weekend's Princeton attempt! After a quick break we started the monotonous job of rock hopping. It was broken up by a few welcome snowfields along the way. I was glad to finally reach the top of the first false summit, but it was short lived because the ridge immediately started going down. This feeling would be repeated many times today!

A look across the ridge from the 1st false summit

A great view of Quandary & the Cristo Couloir

The first part of the ridge was fairly easy. There were quite a few little ups and downs and more or less some heel plunging into the snow...not too bad. I started getting pretty warm and realized there was no wind! A very welcome first this winter! As we were on our way up the second false summit we started to do a little postholing and encountered a few narrow sections. Once on the second false summit we didn't have the satisfaction of seeing the true summit as it was hidden behind the third false summit.

Looking across the ridge from the 2nd false summit

We were encountering every snow condition possible along the ridge. One minute we were walking on hard wind packed snow, the next we were in powder up to our waists. At one point I thought I was going to have to dig Matt out. You could only see him from his waist up! Crampons would have come in handy in a few spots, but of course they were in the car. There were a few bumps along the way that seemed to be all snow, not so sure there were any rocks in there.

Here's one of them

Once we topped the third false summit, the true summit was a great sight!

Doesn't look too far away, does it?

This last section of the ridge was torture mentally. I was beginning to get a little tired of all the ups and downs! I was happy when I saw that big cairn that marked the top! We hung out on top for quite a while enjoying the views and weather. The wind wouldn't stay gone forever. It started to get a little gusty so we grabbed some pics before heading back.

Wheeler Mountain

Fletcher, Atlantic, Pacific & Crystal

Looking back at the final section of the ridge

As we were descending the second false summit we crossed paths with the first group of people we would see all day, until we reached the sledding/ski hill of course. We also decided to follow the road back to the TH....I wish we would have gone left in the morning!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

03/03/2008 12:32
Great job, Heather! You guys sure picked a good day to do this one; I can‘t believe the wind cooperated. Thanks for the beta!


03/03/2008 19:03
North Star is on my ”to do” list, so it was great to see your report. I know it will torture my quads, but I‘m looking forward to it. Thanks for the report!


Thanks Guys!
03/04/2008 00:26
It was one of the nicest days this winter and the ridge was fun. I had a few of those are we there yet moments at the end good thing I‘m a little stubborn!
KeithK & Greenhouseguy: you guys should have a great time on this one!


03/05/2008 23:02
Looks like a fun trip... Congrats on the summit


Way to persevere!
08/28/2008 00:37
North Star is a fun peak in the winter, but those ups and downs are a bit of a pain. Good report!

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