Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  08/17/2009
Date Climbed:   08/16/2009
Author:  jedrejcic

 Making Friends at Lindsey  

I left the relative comfort of an ongoing block party in my neighborhood on Saturday afternoon with Zach and drove down to the Huerfano trailhead in order to get there and set up a place to sleep before sundown. We saw a Sheriff's truck leaving the area and reasoned that he must have been patroling for some sort of youthful rediculousness in the area, but we saw no sign of anything realted. It turns out that it was because one of our people was harassed by a group of folks with beer and guns - see the forum post here. In any case, we had no idea at the time, and we made our way to the campsite to meet up with the rest of our climbing party - a total of six folks, Zach had climbed with a few of them, and two folks we just met came down from the Denver area.

It was starting to get dark, and some of the folks were sleeping in their cars while a couple of us were tenting it. I brought this little tent that my wife and I had used to tour the country, but I haven't seen it in years. I thought that I should set it up while I was still at my house just to make sure it was all in once piece, but I was lazy. Sure enough one of my poles was, well, not entirely broken, but badly bruised, so as to make the shape of the dome tent something more oblong and irregular than was designed. No worries. The wind was howling up when we got there although the skies were clear, and I found a little spot that this small tent could fit under the branches of some trees, and I felt no wind at all despite the torment going on outside of the grove of trees we were in. I also have to mention that the old tent had no stakes in the bag since I had taken them all out when I got a new tent years ago, and I had brought all of my required gear minus one sleeping bag. I remembered it about twenty minutes down the road from my house, but I didn't want to have to turn back - I had plenty of material with me that I could use to stay warm through the night, and figured it would be a good lesson for me to remember my freakin sleeping bag next time - lol. I didn't take the mistake lightly, but I reasoned that I wasn't putting my life or the climb in danger, so I went forward and accepted the punishment I deserved for making such a mistake.

I slept comfortably and had my alarm set for 4am, but I woke up at (what I believed to be) 3:30 am on my own. I packed up my stuff in my tent, and then went outside and placed my stuff down by a tree next to Zach's car, which would be storing my stuff for the day while we climbed, and I realized that nobody was stirring at all. I re-checked my phone to make sure it was 4am, and it said 4am. The phone had gone out of service, and turns out that it was really 3am. I figured it out eventually, and I went back into my tent with all of my stuff and I just laid down and rested for a while - I wasn't going to undo everything and get only 10 minutes of sleep out of it, so I just stayed awake until the real 4am rolled around. The rising crescent moon cast some shadows on my tent at quarter till, and I went outside to enjoy the gergous skies, and I even saw about 7 meteors left over from the Perseids, along with the Andromeda galaxy at zenith, and a beautiful Milky Way.

We assembled at around 4am, ate some food and prepared for the climb. The weather was fine, and it seemed that the winds had died down enough that they woudl present no trouble for our climb, and the sky was clear as could be. We were on the trail at 5:10am and made what I would call quick time of the first hour. I was without a doubt the slowest climber out of the group, so I'm sure everyone would have made an even quicker pace, but none the less, we ascended about 1000' in that time, and made it up to a beautifully hilled alpine plateau where Lindsey and Blanca were both prominently visible. We crossed that and ascended up to the saddle between Lindsey and the Iron Nipple, where we were met by some Southerly winds that were rising up between Lindsey and Blanca, and we all donned some extra warmth, some helmets, and some sunscreen as we basked in the somewhat warming glow of the sun - the first we had seen all morning. But the wind was unrelenting, and we went on, upwards along the ridge. Here is a picture of me with Lindsey as we made our way up the slope to the saddle:


Three of us were taking the Northwest Ridge route, and the other three were taking the standard route up the North Face, so we parted ways not too far from the point at which we gained the saddle. The Ridge route looked intimidating from far off, but the closer we got to it, it got better and better. We had to climb along the ridge for a while before getting to the advertised "crux" of the route, and it turned out that climbing along that ridge was probably just as difficult as the actual crux. Granted, there were one or two places at the crux that required a little more than just hand holds, but traversing the ridge was much more exposed, and having the wind surprising you every now and then with a strong gust was not comforting. We kind of made our way up the slope in a path that is most like the middle line in Photo #5 in the route description, but I think we may have been off to the right of this line, and we just climbed up what seemed reasonable. We also came at it from climbing much nearer to all of the "Sharp Points" labeled on the photo as well, rather than from below it, as shown by the line in the photo. Probably Photo #8 shows our line the best (we chose the middle one).

After surmounting the crux of the route, we continued to climb along the ridge, and now with a bit more confidence and comfort, knowing the worst was behind us (not counting the descent of course). And man, those false summits get you every time. I even knew there was a false summit, and it still got me. We ascended just enough to see above the peak we had been working towards all this time, and sure enough, in the distance, is an even higher peak - the true summit. Well, anyways, we made it there in short time, and quite frankly I was pretty tired. I hadn't climbed a 14er since March or so, and I'd just spent three weeks at sea level, only having had a week at home to recover. But I made it, we made it through the Ridge, and the rest of our climbing party that had gone through the standard route was waiting for us, having gained the summit about 20 minutes prior. Here's our group photo at the summit:


The skies were clear, the weather was nice, and we stayed there another twenty minutes or so and began our descent. We took the standard route down through the gully, and it took as about as much time to descend this route as it did to climb up along the ridge! It was painfully slow, with every step a measured maneuver, spilling rockfall at every step. We unleashed only one large stone that went screaming down into the valley below, but as we screamed "ROCK" we knew there was no one below - we had seen a total of 14 people on the mountain that day, and that included our party of 6.

Eventually we made it down to the saddle again, where we basked once more in the sun and the southerly wind scouring the area, and then the remainder of the descent began. The path was steep (for a walkpath) nearly the whole way down, and my joints were aching for a rest. It took us nearly four hours to get down the mountain, where it had taken us just less than 5 to ascend it. But we eventually got back to our cars, and celebrated by... well, we just kind of sat down. We parted ways soon thereafter. Here's a picture of the Huerfano River valley looking south as the day drew to a close:


Note the weather was still picture perfect. Anyways, here's to a great day on Lindsey, and to a group of fine climbing partners. I hope to climb with all of you again.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice account of the day!
08/18/2009 02:27
You‘re right, looking back at the pictures in route description, we did stay too high on the ”sharp points” of the ridge. Dropping back down was probably a good idea.

Great to meet you yesterday, we‘ll have to join up for a climb again soon!


Good Writeup
08/20/2009 22:08
That was steep! Lindsey is definitely one of the tougher Class 2 peaks. It was good hiking with you!

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