Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  07/01/2010
Date Climbed:   06/19/2010
Author:  Jelgan
 A delayed report on Yale  

Late in getting in this one up, but I promised I would for reason's I'll explain in a bit, so here's an almost two-week-old report on Yale. My friend Dan and I had originally planned on doing Humboldt that day, however the wildfire in the Great Sand Dunes had flared up just in the past few days beforehand and worried about air quaility for climbing and general haziness possibly lessening the views in the Crestone group we decided to replan and Yale made the cut. We left Colorado Springs at aroud 4:00 and made the trailhead by 6:20, making it our second earliest start yet on a 14er (behind the 3:30 trailhead start for Longs last summer). We were feeling fairly proud of this until about 5 minutes into the hike when we came across a group of 3 going the other way, having already summited and made it almost all the way back down. Oh well, props to them!

The nice thing about Yale is its close to moderately large town, and the road is paved the entire way there, but the way other mountains surround it you can't see anything but wilderness until you're fairly close to the top. I took a number of pictures during the early hike below tree line, unfortunately I had the settings on my camera wrong and most of the pictures of the sunrise-lit mountains taken from the shade ended up very washed out.
The least washed-out of my early pics.

For me its sometimes hard to gauge how high I've actually climbed compared to the surrounding landscape, and I found a series of pictures I took of a nearby ridge helped cement in my mind how far I'm actually going on these trips.
The ridge, a decent ways into the hike but still a bit before treeline.

There were still some small snowbanks below treeline which for the most part didn't cause problems, though one fairly large one was icy and took some careful footsteps to get around without falling over. This was my first hike using hiking poles, and while I defintely appreciated them on the slopes, I wasn't sure I found them very useful on this section of ice. I would imagine all the snowbanks both above and below treeline have now retreated from the path except maybe this one.

Just above treeline there's a fairly flat section that goes on for maybe a quarter mile that serves as a nice rest area going both up and down. Its shortly after this that you can get your first good look at the majority of the remaining route.
Nice and level, right around treeline.

A fairly clear look at the route following reeline. That thing on the right is the Sun.

The ridge again, shortly after treeline.

There were a few small snow patches covering the trail above treeline as well. After the fun we had in postholing through Huron's basin two weeks prior we thought to just go around them which would have been fairly easy, but a quick test showed that the snow was actually very firm and we were able to walk acorss it with little difficulty. It was as we crossed the second of these patches that we finally noticed people in front of us for the first time, climbing the relatively loose, steep section before the saddle. It was while climbing that section that I appreciated the poles the most, both on the way up and down. Reaching the saddle itself provides some great views, and starts the class 2 rock hopping needed to reach the actual summit.
At the saddle looking at the beginning of the class 2 rock. Stay to the right, the summit is not directly ahead.

The route from the saddle to summit travels on the south sides of the ridge. We consistently traveled up a bit too high, thinking that the current bump in front of us was the summit, but there were a few to go around before we really got there. By keeping a careful eye out for the cairns we were generally able to correct our route and get back on the easier path. Some others in the area did end up going directly along the ridge most of the way there, and it looked like this moved them into class 3 territory at times.

We made the summit in short order and after locating brand new summit register sat down for a snack and the required pictures. We met a fellow climber at the top whos name I have completely forgotten who had forgotten his camera at home that day. I got his photo on my camera and promised to post it on a trip report here so he could continue his trend of having a photo of him on every peak he had summited, thus the reason for this delayed trip report, hope you can still find it this late!
That ridge again, from the summit, I guess we have moved up a bit.

Here's your pic, hope you can find it!

After finish the snacks and photos we started heading down. I made sure I grabbed a couple picutes down the side of the mountain for my Aunt Les, who apparently is deathly afraid of heights and has remarked after seeing my other climbing pics that this is simply "way too high".
It's not THAT steep...

Dan got ahead of me during the rock hopping back, as he usually does on the way down, and ended up descending off the rock too early when he mistook a drainage path for the walking path. It worked out fine initially, but eventually he had to do some nasty side-stepping across steep loose dirt to make it back to the main path. Make sure you don't start descending the side of the mountain until you get back to the saddle. The rest of the trip down was pretty uneventful, my trekking poles helped speed up my descent (I think) though I still lagged behind Dan for most of it. I'm contemplating picking up a pair of trail runners to use instead of my boots for the rest of summer and seeing if that helps further, though on the upside when I did get home I didn't have a single blister from this climb, a first for me! Anyway 8 peaks down now, hopefully next time around we'll get in our first from the San Juans or Sangre de Cristo.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great weather that day!
07/01/2010 17:02
Probably crossed paths with you at some point. I was at the summit around 8AM that morning. I saw the 3 guys you mentioned, I passed them a little after sunrise so I‘m thinking they may have been up there for a sunrise summit/camp. A very enjoyable day.

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