Peak(s):  Mt. Hope A  -  13,933 feet
Date Posted:  10/16/2009
Date Climbed:   10/10/2009
Author:  bergsteigen
 Mt Hope - East Ridge   

Mount Hope - 13,933'
State Rank: 64
13er Rank: 11
Mileage: ~7
Elevation Gain: ~4,073'
Partner: KeithK

Having done all the 14ers in the valley where the Fall Gathering was being held, the 13er options looked really inviting. With the recent snowfall, I was also looking for a southerly route that would have less snow accumulation. The Mt Hope & Quail option #7 was it. So after slumbering in my truck the night before, I met up with Keith and the others at the Gathering campsite. With the less than optimum forecast, it seems many of those willing to do the 13ers never showed up, so I was facing hiking Hope & Quail solo. Talking with Keith over breakfast, he decides to come along with me on my quest, as slogging up Belford and over to Oxford, was not assured on this day. He was also looking for a more mellow ascent after the 11hr sufferfest on La Plata the day before. So off we went to the Missouri TH to meet and sign the register, bright and early ~7am.

The Hope Pass TH was just up the road a little further. We found a red truck there and wondered if there was someone else already there, never saw anyone on the trail. Just a group of 3 on the pass, ascending from the north, while we were high up on the ridge. After a bit of time to finish my breakfast, putting on my boots, and finding my ice axe buried in my truck from it's last adventure, we were ready to hit the trail.

Happy to have found my axe:

Photo Credit: Keith

The trail was quite nice and keeps up a sustained ascent through an aspen forest that would be amazing, if there were any leaves left on the trees. I could only imagine what the ~1.5 miles would have looked like a week or two ago when this area was at peak color.

Being in the trees, there was little wind at this point, and the warmer than expected temperatures had me wishing I hadn't worn so many layers (including gortex pants - good thing they have full side zips!). With Keith's story of wallowing in snow the day before, I began wondering where the snow was. For the majority of the approach, there was little snow to be seen. Every once in a while there was a hint in the trees. The higher we went, the more evidence of snow. Out of the trees, part of the trail had some snow on it, but the edge was still snow free. No need for gaiters just yet.

First views to south:


Looking west:

A little further up trail:

Still unzipped:

Photo Credit: Keith

Out of the trees, we started to get our first views of Hope and Quail. The top section of Hope looked rather rocky and not as straight forward as the obvious ridge ascent on Quail (trail is clear - especially with the light snow).

Trail to go:

Mt Hope:

The views to the south are captivating, and my camera repeatedly turns in that direction when taking a break. The colder temperatures have dropped the humidity and cut the haze that makes the sky look muddled. No more fire smoke to obscure the views. So far the weather looks clear, and the forecast of precip is way off!

Talk about a backdrop! Wow...


Gearing up for the impending wind:

Photo Credit: Keith

Moonset behind Hope:

Just before Hope Pass, I asked Keith "Left or Right?". I hadn't really planned which peak I wanted to do first, and with the warm temps and lower wind (at this point), I though we had a reasonable chance to get both peaks. Keith says, left because it looks father away. Fine with me!

On Hope Pass, the wind that was pretty manageable to this point, hits us dead on in the face. Time for the windbreaker and zipping up the shell pants! Looking left, I try to find a trail along the ridge. What is obvious on Quail, is not quite so on Hope. Seeing a small trail segment coming out of the snow on the pass, I head in that direction. We follow the ridge west, contouring along on the south side, to avoid the wind and to not gain more elevation than necessary.

Cairn on Hope Pass, pointing the way:

What the first part of the ridge looks like:

Photo Credit: Keith

Cresting the first ridge hump, I look up at the route ahead, trying to find where the trail or route should be. There are some mini couloirs/gully's up the face with rather steep looking rock faces. The ramp that cuts up and to the right looks like a good option. The north side of the ridge is quite snowy, so I'm glad the minor trail segments that we've been finding are on this side of the ridge. For all I know they are game trails.

The way ahead:

Nice view down to Twin Lakes, where I had spent a few days occupying a geodetic monument on a GPS campaign in grad school. I had wondered back then what these peaks were named, but as they weren't 14ers, I didn't think to climb them - back then.

Twin Lakes:

Getting closer to the peak, the ramp becomes more obvious and looks like a good way to avoid the snow filled gully's. Fall snow is not the greatest, as it isn't well consolidated and can hide ankle twisting rocks beneath, as Keith found out yesterday on La Plata. So I strive to find the most snow-free route to the summit. That and I have leather boots that are not really water proof and are showing enough wear and tear (literally) to be retired this year.

Looking for the route ahead, ramp looks good:

At the base of the ramp we go right and ascend up it until we are faced with the choice of an airy exposed traverse to the north, or to take the upper part of the snow gully we had diverted around below. With the wind, I wanted no exposure, so snow gully it was. Here is where Keith calls the route "a little scrambly". Parts were sure class 2+ in places, made slightly harder with the snow. At this elevation the snow is rather prevalent and in places shin deep, gaiters were appropriate here, but I didn't want to stop and put them on.

Keith starting up the ramp:

Soon we at the top of the gully looking over Hopeful Couloir and up to Mt Hope summit ridge. The wind that had abated for the previous steep section, once again hits us. Now for the last tricky class 2+ section of the route, getting around the rocky gendarme like obstruction at the top of the snowy couloir. Again, not wanting anything to do with the north side, we traverse around to the left and south, looking for a way up. Here we have a choice of going left or right, we choose left. (On the way down, the right gully was chosen, and is much easier.)

Near top of Hopeful Couloir, looking at last obstacle:

Me scoping out the way up the gendarme class 2+ section:

Photo Credit: Keith

Past this last obstruction, we are excited to reach the summit. Except as soon as we hit the first mini false summit, gale force winds hit us, and practically force me off my feet. We bow our heads and plow our way through the wind to the true summit.

Photo Credit: Keith

The summit has a meager wind shelter, that is amusingly facing the wrong direction. I quickly engage my SPOT to let those following me know that I made it safely to this point. A quick photo panorama ensues. We can see Uncompaghre in the distance, amazingly clear day! Not much desire to spend much time on the summit, even though I was starving and in need of food and water. We head down as soon as the blinky lights are done.

Keith looking tortured by the wind:

SE - SW View:

W - NE View:

Oxford, Belford, Missouri:

Huron & Apostles:

La Plata:

After only 20 min on the summit, we make our way down. We had no luck rousing anyone on the radios, just crackling. Must be the wind.

Starting down the ridge:

Descending the ridge, Quail in the background:

Passing the gendarme obstruction the slightly easier way:

Just something pretty. I love snow!

Keith leads the way down the ridge and around the obstruction till we are out of the wind. Here we find a reasonably sheltered area and eat and drink a bit. Now to just get down to the lower ridge, where the route should be easier, and more like what we were thinking the day would be like.

On the way down Keith wanted to take the snow gully down to the ramp, and I followed, hoping to not catch too many rocks hiding below. Without gaiters, I did get some snow up the pants, but I wasn't too worried, I just wanted to get down. I brushed off the snow easily on the rocky sections.

View down gully:

Descending the snow:

Once lower down and back on the easier part of the route, we made quick time mostly following the top of the ridge east.

A look back at our route, much more challenging than anticipated, but that just made it more fun!

At the pass, there was no communication or anything discussing the possibility of a Quail summit bid, we just went right, and down to the trees. Beer, brats and burgers were calling our names, and Quail can be done on another fall day when the leaves are at peak. Or at least that's the plan now!

We race down the multitudinous switchbacks that abound on this trail. Good thing, since the toes of my boots let in some moisture, and a steep trail would be tough on the toes. As we go down, we comment that it is a rather steep trail, never quite reaching that nice comfortable slope where you can just kick it down the trail. I don't remember it being this steep in the morning, I must have been half asleep. Before entering the trees, I snap the last photos of the day.


Now is just the pretty forest and sloughing the feet through the rustly leaves back to my truck and off to the fun of the Fall Gathering!

My full Photo Album:

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Awesome photos....
10/16/2009 22:49
and a great report. I‘ve done the route in August. What a completely different perspective in October.

Nice Report!
10/16/2009 23:51
It was great meeting you! I enjoyed visiting with you as well as reading your report! Good luck to you!

10/17/2009 02:10
to climb again or ski with you guys soon.
That is a neat scenic route.
Hope is one of the best coiloir climbs, I did it a few years ago in the spring. And some good ski descent options if you don‘t like to ski the steep stuff.

Great time!
10/17/2009 04:02
Thanks for letting me tag along Otina, it was a really good October day, all things considered.

CO Native
Love image #8
10/17/2009 15:20
Excellent photo!!

Nice report!
10/19/2009 23:33
Hope looks like a nice option once all the 14ers are done. Good job.

I was getting blow around on Belford/Oxford while you and Keith were getting blown around on Hope..and nice meeting you out there after the climbing!

10/21/2009 23:57
It was such a beautiful hike, glad to have you along Keith

That view of Huron was just amazing, I‘m almost surprised that I didn‘t take more photos of it!

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