Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Date Posted:  05/31/2010
Date Climbed:   05/31/2010
Author:  Barrett Cooper

 Huron on a Holiday  

After striking out on Quandary and Shavano due to weather this winter, Pat and I decided that Huron would be our spring attempt. We tried to do everything right this time. Look at a weather report, get an early start, pack well, and most importantly remind ourselves that there are no gimme 14ers.

Hiking 6.6 miles
Time up 4 hours
Time down 2.5 hours
Blue skies yes
Wind yes
Microspikes were a plus+

The start of this trip was stellar. We drove out the night before so we could get an early start. The road was surprisingly clear all the way to the upper trailhead, so we drove up the 4wd road to about a half mile below the gate where there was good camping next to the stream and in the trees. Setting up in the waning light we packed our packs and hit the sack. I awoke at 3am thinking someone was about to run over our tent, but came to find out it was a nearly full moon cresting the mountains and not the headlights of some maniacal hill-jack bent on crushing us becasue we were camped in "his" spot.

Not being able to go back to sleep Pat and I ended up hitting the trail just a bit before 5am. A good start and part of our plan to be back down before the snow softened up. I have done Huron before in May and knew from experience that it can turn into a post holing hell come 2pm. Pre-dawn in Colorado is one of my favorite times. The deep inky purple in the Colorado skies when the peaks are still covered in snow is amazing. Throw in the fact that it was a balmy 35 degrees and we were off to a good start.

We had one little snafu in the trees. We lost the trail for a while and ended up not catching it until just below tree line. All in all not a bad detour, but it may have cost us some time and produced a few curses as we had to pick our way through the drifts that still ensnare the trees on Huron. Back on the trail we caught daybreak on the Three Apostils and I got my favorite shot of the trip. Up in the bowl the snow was still firm and we made good time up to the saddle with Browns Peak. From tree line to the summit we had a relentless 20-30 mph wind. We ended up tacking our way like sailboats up the peak. Turning into the wind we would go until our faces were frozen, then we would turn until they warmed up again. In this manner we picked our way and got to the summit just before 9am. (A belated thanks to someone somewhere on the 14er forums that recommended the Patagonia Das Parka. I got one at the start of winter last year and it is now my go to jacket from October to June for 14ers.)

From the summit we were able to check out the surrounding peaks, and taking advantage of the wind direction, duck down and get out of the accursed wind. We spent a good while up on the peak eating pizza and soaking up the sun on the leeward side. But all good things must come to an end and if we wanted to get down before the snow softened too much we had to go. Departing the summit we were able to glissade, hop, skip and jump our way back to the trailhead and our camp in 2.5 hours. Back in the valley it was shorts and tee shirt weather. It was a far cry from the windy and cold peak of Huron. Springtime in the Rockies, I love it here.

A great trip but an unusual one in that for such an accessible 14er we were the only ones on the peak. From 5am to 11:30 we did not see anyone else. Signing out on the register we were the only ones who had put in their names. Not bad for a holiday weekend trip. Pat's 6th 14er, and my second time up Huron. On to the photos of the trip, hope you enjoy and I am psyched about this year's potential.

Alpine start and the moon over Granite Mountain, I love this time of day.

Three Apostles in the morning light

Looking up Huron from the bowl

Brown's Peak and Middle Mountain

From the upper mountain looking down to the bowl

Summit Shot of Pat and I

From the summit looking East (Missouri?)

My axe leash acting as a wind gauge on the way down. Ya, its blowing pretty good.

The rare Egyptian snow beast's shadow

Pat in the bowl playing Russian Roulette on the softening snow (will this step stand firm or will I drop through again???).

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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