Peak(s):  El Diente Peak  -  14,159 feet
Date Posted:  06/07/2010
Date Climbed:   06/05/2010
Author:  Nelson
 El Diente  

On June 4th I hiked from the Navajo Lake trailhead to Navajo lake. This is a very pleasant 4.5 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1800 ft. The surprise was how good a shape the trail was in. It was almost completely clear of snow and very fast in the morning when I started. I made the lake in 2:30 and set up camp on a beautiful day next to the pristine Navajo lake. Because the hike went so well I had time to recon my route for the next day. I talked to one other party who did not make the summit. They reported that it had not been freezing at night and the snow was very punchy. They had been postholing quite a bit but they had started late.

That night the lowest temperature I saw on my thermometer was 50 degrees. At 11,200 this was one of the warmest nights I have spent. I awoke at 3 am and started hiking at 4am. Even then it was warm and the snow was very soft. When I got to the North Couloir of El Diente I could see that a large avalanche had come down (apparently caused by rock fall). The bed surface of the avalanche was very firm and provided excellent cramponing up to 13,900. Here it got messy again but after 100 ft. or so I was on the ridge line and on rock. Although the climb from this point on is mostly class 3 scrambling there were many large patches of snow and the question was always "crampons or no crampons". After two changeovers I decided to just go on the ridge and not bother with the changeovers. This increased the difficulty to class 4 but saved a lot of time with changeovers. I summited at 9 am which is not a fast time for 3000 vertical feet but given the conditions I was very pleased to be at the summit of such a proud mountain on such a beautiful day. I was back in camp at noon where I had lunch and broke camp and back in Telluride by 5 pm where I enjoyed a great dinner with my family.

I had taken several pictures of my dog, Max, the day before and managed to leave it on and run down the battery so I have no pictures. I'll be sure to take some next time.


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