Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Date Posted:  07/22/2009
Date Climbed:   07/17/2009
Author:  jrbren_vt

 Huron via NW Slopes (Standard)  

This is a trip report for my 9 day hiking trip from Vermont to Colorado for site seeing.

My background is I hike regularly in Vermont Green Mountains, NY Adirondacks and New Hampshire White Mountains for the last 20 years. I have been to Colorado once before in 1993, where me and a friend of mine climbed Mt. Elbert, my only previous Colorado 14er.

I have been to 14K' and higher on several occasions outside of Colorado, topping out at 6120 meters (20,075') on the cloud shrouded summit of Stok Kangri in the Ladakh region of India in 2007. I have also trekked in the Khumbu of Nepal in 2005 and attempted some Mexico volcanoes in 2006 but were turned back on Iztaccihuatl at 17K' due to electrical storms, and El Pico de Orizaba with digestive issues & fear of electrical storms. So I have a pretty good idea of what to expect with altitude going in and know what its like to be high on a summit ridge in an electrical storm with metal gear hanging off my person. The Asia & Mexico trips were all as a member of a guided group.

This trip would be all solo hikes, but given how well the Rocky Mountain National park trails and 14er routes are documented on this site, summit post, and in other books, this would be almost like hiking trails I have hiked many times before back east before ever stepping foot on them. So I am quite comfortable tackling this solo.

The week's itinerary is presented here:
Friday, July 10 - Fly to Colorado (Sleep at ~5280', Denver)
Saturday, July 11 - Drive to Estes Park - Hang out rest of day (Sleep at ~7800', Estes Park)
Sunday, July 12 - Climb Flat Top Mountain & Hallett Peak from Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, ~10miles RT and 3200' total elevation gain, maximum altitude 12,713' (Sleep at ~7800', Estes Park)
Monday, July 13 - Climb Chapin Peak, Chiquita Peak, and Ypsilon Peak from Chapin Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, ~7 miles RT and 3100' total elevation gain, maximum altitude 13,514' (Sleep at ~7800', Estes Park)
Tuesday, July 14 - Hike to Crystal Lakes, Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, ~15.4 miles RT and 3000' total elevation gain, maximum altitude 11,500' at Crystal Lakes (Sleep at ~7800', Estes Park)
Wednesday, July 15 - Travel Day in Car, 7.5 hours of driving & sight seeing from car (Sleep at ~9300', Twin Lakes)
Thursday, July 16 - Rest/Easy Day in Twin lakes, 2 hour easy Kayak on Twin Lakes in am, 90 minute RT walk to InterLaken Dexter House in pm, ~3 miles RT and < 100' elevation gain along lake shore (Sleep at ~9300', Twin Lakes)
Friday, July 17 - Climb Huron Peak via NW Ridge (Class 2 walk-up/Hike), ~10miles RT and 3700' total elevation gain, maximum altitude 14,003' (Sleep at ~9300', Twin Lakes)
Saturday, July 18 - Climb La Plata Peak via NW Ridge (Class 2 walk-up/Hike), ~9 miles RT and 4300' total elevation gain, maximum altitude 14,336' (Sleep at ~9300', Twin Lakes)
Sunday, July 19 - Drive To Denver, fly back to BTV

This report focusses on Friday's trek up Huron Peak in the Sawatch.

I choose Huron based on its frequent occurrence on the 14ers favorites list in this web site, and its name. I grew up in SE Michigan and my family vacationed along Lake Huron, so why not climb the peak with the same name.

The weather report was for mostly sunny skies with no mention of any thunderstorms before 3pm, so an early start was not mandatory. However I wanted to start early to 1.) beat the crowds, if applicable and 2.) beat the heat, if applicable.

I slept in Twin Lakes at a very nice B & B (minus the Breakfast since I was out the door by 4:45am), it takes about 30 minutes to drive from Twin Lakes to Winfield. I parked in Winfield since a walk up a road for 2 miles makes a very nice warm up before the actual climbing begins in earnest. Plus, I rented a Toyota Corolla to keep costs down. I was walking by 5:25am. It was light enough where I did not need a headlamp but the sun was not up, and would not be up for a while in this valley west of Huron. After about a mile and 1/2 the first and only 4WD drive vehicle passed me, and the driver politely offered my a lift which I politely declined for above reasons. We would wind up seeing each other several time on the trail on the way up.

Although I sleep at 150' above sea level for most of the year, from the above itinery one can see I was at altitude for several days before attempting this climb, plus I was coming off two rest days, so I was pretty close to 100% for this hike. The weather ideal, sunny, calm and cool. Every morning on my trip dawned this way and stayed clear at least until about 11am before any threatening clouds showed up. There would be no threatening clouds all day for this hike.

The route is described well on this web site in the route descriptions for Huron, NW ridge, so I will not reproduce the route description in detail here. Suffice to say it was a well travelled, easy to follow, foot friendly hiking path from the 4 wheel drive road all the way to the summit. It is in better shape then 70% of the maintained hiking trails in the northeast. Switchbacks and drier climate mean less erosion, less loose rocks and less tree roots then north east hiking trails.
Since the weather was excellent and there was no snow on the path, there was not route finding skills required. The only reason I would say this is not a best cadidate for a new 14er to start on, is the view is so good one might become spoiled on the others.

I do not recall my exact summit time but I think I arrived at ~8:20am and started back down around 10am. I spent a really long time on the summit. There were about a half dozen folks on the summit when I arrived, maybe another half dozen came and went. So I had company but it was by no means crowded.

I teamed up with another hiker from Fort Collins for the descent and had good conversation back to the TH.

We also got another offer for a ride down the 4 wheel drive road, this one was much more tempting to accept since it was hot and my feet were tired by then, but I did want to do the hike round trip from Winfield, so we again politely declined.

I saw many Pica's on this mountain but not many Marmots. A couple of days earlier I was on Chiquita in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I think that summit is to Marmots as Denver is to People. Saw one deer grazing near the river along the 4 wheel drive road on the way in, and another on the way out (could have been the same deer, so do not know whether to count that as 1 or 2 deer? ).

The rest of this report will just share some of the photos.
It appears my photos are too big to be accepted by this website, so these photos are actually links to my webshots page. Hopefully the link do not change over time, they show up fine for me, please let me know if the photos do not appear on your PC.

My version of the famous 3 Apostles in Early Morning Light

NW Slopes Trail to Huron, showing Excellent footing, and Dry, a treat for an Adirondack Hiker !!!

Looking up to Huron Summit from ~12.3K' Basin on way up Huron, route follows LH shoulder of Huron

Me on Summit of Huron, my second Colorado 14er, 1st in 16 years...

3 Apostles from Huron Summit

View East from Summit, Missouri, Belford, et al...

North Ridge to Brown's Peak, a route I was tempted to take down, but opted for the trade route. Described in Roach's book. Next time I will try that route up or down and do what Roach call's "tour de Huron".

SE Ridge and Collegiate Peaks in the Distance

SW View, Lake Ann is in front of the Ridge

West View Towards Elks, I would not make it to the Elks this trip, next time ...

Descending the NW Slopes Trail, without snow the Trail is easily visible for much of the way down to Treeline

Looking Back up To Huron on Way Down

Another View of the Trail from Above

Looking Back up to Huron on way down

A final View of the Apostles in afternoon light before descending into the trees...

Thanks for reading, happy hiking/climbing...


 Comments or Questions

awesome pics
07/22/2009 21:14
hey John, great pics on your trip report and glad to here you made it back to Vermont safely. I was the guy following you part of the way up and forgot to hollar at you before leaving the summit. John

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