Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  05/17/2009
Date Climbed:   05/17/2009
Author:  emcee smith
 Drained of energy on Princeton  

Princeton Trip Report

Depart: 6:30am
Summit: 10:37am
Return: 1:39pm

Conditions: The road to the radio towers was not too bad. Drove my Tacoma up in 2wd, but would recommend a high clearance vehicle, as the drainage bars were wicked. The road above the radio towers was easily passable by walking, but the same snow bank blocks car passage past the finals switchback (with the stone bench). The standard trail still has snow, but wasn't too bad, in most places there was a little trench where people had walked. Note: we didn't take the standard trail up, and the snow was soft when we came down. From the saddle to the summit can be hiked snow free.

After Yale the previous day, and soaking in the Princeton Hot Springs, I drove up to just above the radio towers and set up camp. A friend from Denver was meeting me, so I picked the first spot on the right which had several tent sites.

We woke up about 6am, and broke camp early, setting off about 6:30. Whether from sleeping at 11,000', yesterday's post holing fiasco on Yale, or simple the hike up Yale, I was very tired and felt very weak.

Above the last switchback, showing the current conditions of the snow bank. Not much has melted

We got to where the trail turned up and right from the road.

The normal trail seems to be buried under the snow, but there are improvised trails up to join the route. Walking on the trail was easy to start with. We were discussing whether to try to cross the snow, or go up and over Tigger. Since my friend didn't have an ice axe, we decided to go up and over. We left the trail shortly after switching back to the west and began up the ridge, or to the right of the ridge.

I knew what to expect from Aubrey's report from last week, but the way up toward Tigger was steep, with big loose rocks.

It was way too early to be tired, but we were tired, so we skirted the summit and joined the ridge to the west. The ridge down to the saddle was fairly easy, and we welcomed the downhill rest.

Once we joined the saddle, we began up the final slope to the summit.

Again, being very tired, it seemed hard. There were a lot of unconnected trail segments, but reasonable easy to find the way. About 2/3 of the way to the summit, I walked up the snow to the left of the trail, as there were plenty of steps, and the slope wasn't dropping away.

Looking back down along the standard route, showing some of the snowfields.

Finally, we made the summit, joining a couple with their dog. The summit crew

I didn't stay on top too long; I was afraid that my legs would stiffen up too much, so I quickly retreated back down the trail We came down the first saddle, joining the old route as it traversed across the face.

Coming back across the snowfields was relatively easy. A few slips here and there, but mostly there was a small foot trench to keep you secure.

After crossing the 5 or 6 snowfields, we left the rock and joined the dirt. Back down the dirt trail to the road and back to the car was uneventful.

A few lessons learned here. First, if I am planning back to back hikes, I need to be more efficient with my energy. Spending too much time finding the trail on Yale cost me dearly here. We should have followed the standard route up Princeton. I had poles, my ice axe, crampons, and show shoes in my truck. We should have split them up and crossed the snow in the morning. Going up to the ridge was a waste of energy that I didn't have.

I also think that mentally, I was prepared for Princeton to be an "easy" hike. Not that the standard route was hard (at least on the way down), but anytime I underestimate a hike, I suffer.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

very nice TR
05/18/2009 02:43
I did the same route - ridge over tigger on Saturday but I had the same fog/cloud condition as you did on Yale and never got to see more than 75 ft until late in the day. It was nice to see some pics of the views I should have been seeing.


05/19/2009 19:41
Nice job! I can‘t believe how much snow has melted recently.

Tigger is tougher than it looks. And I imagine the talus was much looser for you than it was for us a few weeks ago. The snow acted like glue, causing less shifting than when it‘s dry.

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