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Mt. Lindsey: 14,042 Route: Standard with a diversion
(3.2 miles short of the Huerfano/Lily Lake summer TH/ Elevation: 9.950 ft.)
Crew: sgladbach, paulperea, globreal, Chipper, and Fepic1
Climb date: Saturday, May 08, 2010
Start Time: 4:22am
End Time: 6:56pm
Total Time: 14 ½ hours (total hiking/climbing/summit time)
Trip Length: 15.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
This trip began on Friday, May 07th.. There were five of us going to do this climb together. Due to the long approach this time of year (snow covered Forest Service Road), we decided to camp out the night before. The snow stopped us 3.2 miles short of the summer (Lily Lake) TH at an elevation just below 10,000 feet.
Steve wanted to start at 3:30am. I was thinking 5:00am. So, we compromised and aimed for 4:00am….but didn't' get on the trail until 4:22am… from L to R: Britt (globreal), Steve (sgladbach), John (Fepic1), Collin (Chipper), Paul, (paulperea).
As we started off in the morning, the snow across the road and in the meadows was firm from the overnight freeze, which was great, no post holing! (At least not yet.) Me (on the right) and Collin taking a breather after about an hour's worth of hiking just as first light is happening. This is a long hike along the road on the way in.
Hiking in-Collin and Britt (Photo by John Forshaug)
To the east there was some blue sky showing through however, to the west the clouds were causing some concern. That small nub just to the left of the prominent peak in the foreground is the Iron Nipple where our joining saddle is. (Lindsey is behind that foreground peak.) Our route took us just to the right of that peak in the foreground up a steep slope through the forest.
Open meadow at first light (Photo by John Forshaug)
Once we crossed the snow covered Huerfano River and turned left, the route became quite steep. Paul is NOT having a concerned look on his face! In fact he WAS determined to summit this day after just recently being rejected by Little Bear.
Heading up above the Huerfano River
Upon exiting the forest at treeline, the skies looked quite promising.
Above treeline/below open basin
Coming into this open basin was beautiful. I think Cooper (Steve's Australian Shepherd who is really a mountain sheep in disguise), seems to like here.
Enter basin (Photo by John Forshaug)
This is a look back down into this open basin. A ski down this chute would be awesome right now.
Looking down lower basin (Photo by Paul Perea)
Once John caught back up with us, he gets his first view of Lindsey (right side of photo). That's the Iron Nipple in the center.
John gets 1st view of Lindsey from basin
And it's from here looking south-west, that we got the most magnificent views of Blanca and Ellingwood Point.
Blanca & Ellingwood (Photo by Paul Perea)
The sun is shining and the skies are looking promising. Steve seems to be enjoying the views.
Steve at top of basin
As you can see, this west-facing slope is primarily a wind blown/snow free slope. So, we cached the snowshoes back down in the basin at 12,400 ft. As we are approaching the saddle that connects the Iron Nipple and Lindsey, Steve waits for me as I make some gear adjustments. (Excuse to take a break! Steve has more patience than anyone I know.)
Britt & Steve below saddle (Photo by John Forshaug)
Finally reaching the 13,100 ft. saddle, John gets…
John reaches the Iron Nipple-Lindsey saddle
…the view of our goal, Mt. Lindsey!
But which route? Do we take the really steep snow gully (Standard Route), or the Class 4 ridge with steep exposure? (1 dimensional photographs don't do the steepness justice! Pictures flatten out everything.) One slip in that gully could send you 70mph down into those rocks at the bottom. One slip on that vertical rock…well you get it.
Mt. Lindsey from the saddle (Photo by Paul Perea)
The decision was made before I caught up to the team. Neither route. So crampons are going on and we're going around. Cooper wasn't worried (like we were) which route we took. In fact, he was napping.
John & Steve put on crampons while Cooper naps
While it's going to add a couple extra miles/couple hundred extra feet of elevation gain, we head down and around to the east to be able to climb up a less steep snow gully. This route in Roach's book is Route 20.13 on page 181.
Heading east around the summit cone
After reaching what we think is the skier's gully, we turn it uphill. In the bottom of this gully it's looking nice. We are getting some good kick steps in the spring snow and it's holding our feet in place well.
Britt & John heading up our gully ascent
I think Steve is checking his watch and saying to himself, "crap, this is taking waaay longer than anticipated!"
The gully is getting steeper...
And in fact, this gully felt just as steep as the route we avoided!
And it's NOT the nice, wide, rock free slope we were expecting. We run out of snow and have to take off our crampons. Darn it. Then we had to put the crampons back on….and then take them off again for more rock. In fact, we actually ended up climbing Class 4, pretty steep rock on this route. Steve actually pulled out his rope to assist John as I think this was his first time on anything like this.
As it turned out, we turn up-mountain 2 gullies too soon. And during the Class 4 rock climbing we had to do, none of us thought to take our hands off of the rock to take any pictures. Sorry.
It's funny, now that I've done some roped-up, Class 5 rock climbing back in Colorado Springs, knowing that I'm roped in, it doesn't feel nearly as scary, as doing Class 4 rock climbing with no rope! Kinda like comparing the safety of a roller coaster to free wheelin' & flying on a mountain bike, where one slip and your hurtin'-4-certain!
The snow runs out and rock scrambling begins
Once on the ridge-line, it was quit nice. Of course you had to watch your step, but the adrenaline wasn't flowing the same way here on the ridge. Steve seems to be enjoying the views while John follows.
Steve & John reach the summit ridge
There she is…Mt. Lindsey. This photo is taken from what is called "Northwest Lindsey." I had to ask Bill Middlebrook where this mild summit really was. Most just call it "the false summit." The trek over to Mt. Lindsey is really fast and easy. Especially compared to all that we've been through to get this far. If you look carefully you can see Paul making a bee-line for the summit. (I think he had summit fever.)
Paul leading the charge to the Lindsey summit
According to my GPS, this little jaunt was 7.46 miles one-way and it's taken us 8 ½ hours…and we were pooped. I know John is really excited to have made it, but he doesn't seem to have the energy to show it. Who knows why Steve is heading off to the San Luis valley. Cooper says forget it…not going that way!
John, Steve, Cooper on the summit
The 4 stubborn bone-heads determined to summit…L to R, Britt, Steve (crooked bicycle helmet!), John, Peace-Paul, Cooper (saying, "Dad…let go of me!") Collin, being the humble man he is, was suffering from allergies and decided he didn't want to slow us down. So, he turned around just prior to the Iron Nipple-Lindsey saddle.
Mt. Lindsey summit, 14,042 feet!
Britt (Me) holding Paul's (Gaby's actually) summit sign with the most ominous summit cloud!
Britt under the ominous cloud (Photo by Paul Perea)
The Crestone's to the north. I'm sorry we didn't have more sunny-blue skies to show the splendor of this region. It really was spectacular even though these clouds makes it look kinda erie.
We took the "correct" gully down which is the route the skiers usually take. It's in PRIME condition for a ski! It's the first gully, just to the north of the true summit, as you head back down the ridge towards Northwest Lindsey. You drop off to the east-side of the ridge. This gully, was quite steep during the top portion…so much so, none of us felt comfortable glissading up here. (In fact, the whole top portion of this mountain is very steep!) However, after 2-300 feet of elevation, the glissade became quite safe and fun. Cooper stays right behind Steve all the way down.
Steve glissading with Cooper on his tail
I don't have the photo to show the bottom of this snow gulley, but it's really quite wide with a nice run-out…no rocks at the bottom to run into if you lost control of a glissade, (which I doubt would happen cuz of the declining slope angle as you get lower). It's just a matter of getting into the right gully if you are okay with taking this longer, yet safer route. It is a pain to re-climb the 150-200 feet back up to the saddle, but if safety is a priority, then it's probably greatest alternative in snow/winter conditions.
I'm sorry my camera didn't auto-focus correctly, but back in the basin on the west side of the saddle, I thought the heat-sink function of this giant rock was quite amazing.
Back down of of the saddle and below the basin, we come back to the Huerfano River. However, this time of year, this was our route we hiked, on top of the Huerfano River!
Huerfano River under a snow blanket
And back on the Lily Lake Rd. in the late evening, the post-holing became ugly. You see, the problem was, there were places where the road was melted out and then places where it was 3-4 feet deep in snow. So, it became of guessing game as to when to take off the snow shoes off and when to keep them on.
I hate the feeling, and the work that comes when the bottom just falls out of the snow. John here shows what hiking the road looked like. Argh!
John on the road less traveled
A parting shot...at the end of the day. We didn't' get back to the vehicles until almost 7pm. A 14 ½ hour day of hard hiking and climbing. We were all toasted, done, out-of-gas…and very glad to be back safe and sound to the vehicles. I am grateful to God for one more successful, injury & trouble-free climb in this amazing, mountainous back-country that He has created.
Good-bye back country. You've been kind to use today.
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