Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  05/07/2008
Date Climbed:   05/03/2008
Author:  covfrrider

 Humboldt - for Talus Monkey  

Humboldt Peak
May 3rd, 2008
Route: SE Gully/Face
Round Trip: ~16 miles
Elevation Gain: 5800'
Andy(Bobby Peru), Karen(Georgie), Brian(covfrrider), Heather and Kota

For Talus Monkey

As I approached the summit, with Bobby Peru and Georgie having summited just minutes before, I somehow felt strangely connected to a man I had never had the pleasure of meeting. Flushed with emotion, I climbed onward and upward, knowing that the spirit of the Talus Monkey was watching over me, peering down through the cloudless sky.

The trek:

Bobby Peru had the idea of doing Humboldt a couple of weeks ago, and I was certainly game. Having lived in Colorado most of my life, but spending absolutely zero time in the Sangre de Cristo range, I was chomping at the bit. So after some discussion, it was decided that we'd do Humboldt on the 3rd, with a pre-climb trek in as far as we could on Friday night.

We arrived (Bobby Peru, Georgie, Heather and I) at the lower parking area at about 6pm. Bobby Peru decided to try and bust the first snow bank in Georgie's 4-Runner and managed to get it stuck. We spent 45 minutes getting it unstuck, after unloading all the gear by the side of the road. This was not in the itinerary!

Looking back down the road, 1/4 mile above the start of the private property (Bobby Peru)

Getting into the serious snow (Bobby Peru)

The girls pose in the dark (Bobby Peru)

We started up the road at 7pm, about an hour and half behind our original plan... at this point we knew we'd be setting up camp in the dark. At about 9:30, we started looking for a flat spot along the road to pitch the 2 tents. It was a clear night, and the temperature dipped into the upper teens. We all slept restlessly, knowing a big day was ahead. The plan had been to get to the upper trail head, or even beyond.

Andy enjoys a little late night libation

The climb:

I was wide awake at 5:10, 20 minutes ahead of our agreed upon 5:30 wakeup. I dressed, and set up my stove for a warm breakfast of oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar. Everyone rallied, we packed our day packs and hit the trail at 6:50. Heather (and her dog Kota) decided not to climb with us and were instead just going to hike up towards the lake later in the day.

The trail away from camp (Bobby Peru)

About 30 minutes up the road, we stopped at a wide spot in the road and discussed the possibility of climbing the SE gully. It looked pretty good, and if the conditions weren't optimal, we could use the talus along the edge. We decided to go for it and began the bushwhack through the trees. I had read on another trip report about the "freak show" forest, and it lived up to it's name. It was like climbing stairs covered with trees, only the steps were 6, 8, 15 feet high. We finally broke into a clearing at about 8am. The snow was perfect for climbing, hard consolidated with small penitentes. There was a trace of new snow from the storm that rolled through a couple days prior, but the climbing was pretty easy from here.

Georgie and covfrrider break tree line (Bobby Peru)

The goal! (Bobby Peru)

Bobby Peru and Georgie find the route

Small people on a big Mountain!

We decided to stay on the slope to the East of the SE gully and just pick our way up. Bobby Peru chose a more direct route, involving a lot of talus and scree hopping, Georgie and I stayed a little further east and worked our way towards the east ridge. About 500 feet below the ridge, Georgie turned towards the summit and started talus climbing. I continued further up the face and was working the snow patches. I find climbing on snow to be less taxing. About 200 feet below the ridge, I traversed what would be the crux of my route. A very steep, snow patch... it was an interesting traverse, as it was bulletproof, then rotten, then perfect wind pack, then icy... rinse and repeat... not overly difficult, just very tedious and mentally demanding.

The SE Gully

Broken Hand and the angle of the SE Gully

Georgie and covfrrider at the bottom of the slot gully (Bobby Peru)

Looking down the slot gully

Georgie takes a break climbing the slot gully

Georgie negotiates the upper part of the east ridge

Looking back at the east ridge, the snowfield traverse is on the right

The upper 400 feet of the east ridge

The summit:

Bobby Peru was the first to summit, at 11:11, followed by Georgie at about 11:15. I finally stood atop Humboldt Peak at 11:22.

Georgie approaches the summit (Bobby Peru)

Georgie takes it in! (Bobby Peru)

Bobby Peru does the same! (Bobby Peru)

covfrrider arrives at the top! (Bobby Peru)

The crew with the Crestones as a backdrop

We talked for a few minutes about Talus Monkey, how none of us knew him personally, and how it was one year ago this weekend that he had summited this same peak. We dedicated this climb to his memory. We all agreed, that this is what David would have wanted all of us to be doing on this day; enjoying the wonderful mountains of Colorado that he so dearly loved.

I quietly reflected on the accomplishment of summiting this peak, of the beauty of this place and how infinitely small and fragile we are in the midst of these mountains. How they can so accommodating one day, and so vengeful the next. On this day, David's day, they were accommodating.

Some scenics:

Crestones and Kit Carson/Challenger

The Crestones

Crestone Needle

Crestone Peak

Broken Hand Peak

The descent:

We contemplated the SE gully for a return, but being just after noon, we weren't sure about descending the snowfield. It was agreed that we'd take the standard route down and turn this into a loop. After we took some pictures and had some snacks, we started off the summit at about 12:30.

Tracks on the west ridge

Georgie is just a happy plunge stepper!

Georgie and Bobby Peru pose in the Sangres, the Blanca group looms on the horizon

The decent was uneventful, a mix of trail and snow patches. The plunge stepping above the saddle was awesome, as the snow had just enough give. Below the saddle, glissading was in order!

Bobby Peru glissades

Here comes Georgie

Another postcard shot from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Crestone Needle

We crossed S Colony Lake on the northern shore, and started down the stream bed. At this point we were all about short cuts, so into the little slot canyon we went. Some interesting ice formations and just all around cool scenery.

Some cool ice in the ravine

Marble Mountain from the ravine

A couple miles downstream and we were back at camp. We hastily broke down the tents, packed up and started the 3 mile slog back to the lower trail head. Bobby Peru had parked the 4-runner near the downed tree, and we all arrived at about 5pm.

After some discussion, Carl's Jr in Florence would be dinner... I can't believe I spent $9 on fast food, but the Super Star with cheese, Chili Cheese fries and super tanker of lemonade was just right!

Thank you Bobby Peru and Georgie for a great day in the mountains! And, thank you Talus Monkey, for your inspiration... your spirit lives on in all of us.


 Comments or Questions

Nice sentiments for TM ...
02/05/2011 00:22
Great trip report, beautiful pictures ... what wonderful weather you had! Thanks for posting.


Muy Bien
07/29/2013 18:29
Good job! Great pics! I could potentially be out there in a couple weeks, so the pics were very helpful, esp. the Broken Hand Peak one.


Beautiful photos.......
05/07/2008 18:44
looks like a very special weekend. Great views, happy faces. Would have loved to be there with you.

PLease, please, please......DON‘T take this as criticism. It is offered only as a rememberance of the lesson Talus Monkey paid dearly to teach us. I wasn‘t there; I did not evaluate the conditions as you did. I do know, from years of hard-won experiece, that you can hit an unexpected icy patch at a moment‘s notice.

Therefore, it was disconcerting to see photos of the glissades using ski poles while ice axes were strapped to the packs. David died on that mountain glissading without an ice axe; that mistake has been made. We will best honor him by repeating the mantra, ”Glissading requires proper knowledge and use of an ice axe”.

These comments are not against you or anything you did. They are in support of making David‘s death meaningful.

Glad you had such a good weekend. What‘s up next?


11/30/2010 17:28
point well taken.

All of the glissading we did was down lower below the west ridge saddle, on slopes that were barely doable. In fact, simply sitting in the snow, you couldn't get any momentum without some hand pushing.

I couldn‘t agree more about proper knowledge, assessing the conditions (whether climbing, traversing or glissading)is paramount when you are in the mountains. Then using sound judgment and proper equipment based on that assessment.


Thanks for the update!
05/08/2008 03:33
I really enjoyed the pictures and info. I hope to make it up within the next couple weeks so this was very helpful. Good luck with your future climbs.


Thanks for the Crestone traverse beta
06/23/2008 01:17
I‘ve been searching for recent pics of the traverse. Great pics!

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