Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  07/27/2010
Date Climbed:   07/24/2010
Author:  AksarbenSchott
 Mt Princeton - Mt Princeton Road Route  

We decided to climb Mt Princeton a couple weeks ago. We had camped at the Railroad Bridge campground last summer and Mt Princeton was an awesome looking peak from the valley. We made a reservation at the same campground this year. It isn't a fancy campground, but it is only 3 miles North of Buena Vista and is right on the Arkansas River. It is a great base camp for all the Collegiate Peaks, and we will return next year to climb another one.
We decided early on that we would drive up the 4WD road to the Radio Towers and hike from there. We were concerned that we wouldn't find a place to park, so we left the campground at 1:15 AM, and put fresh batteries in our headlamps! We arrived at the Radio Towers around 2:30 and easily found a place to park. The 4WD road really isn't difficult at all, and I think any high clearance or even medium clearance vehicle will make it. The only concern is that it is a very narrow road, so it is difficult to pass other vehicles. Luckily we only met 1 vehicle on the way down, and it was a small jeep that squeezed past us. My buddy Robert and I started hiking a little after 2:30. Hiking in the dark is a different experience, and unfortunately, about 10 minutes into the hike, we noticed two pair of glowing eyes on the road in front of us. Then we heard growling, then barking. Turns out there was a group camping along the road with two dogs. They were mean dogs!! At one point they had us surrounded and started closing in, barking, growling and getting ready to attack. Robert and I were yelling at them telling them to back off, Robert had a big rock in his hand, hoping he wouldn't have to use it. They circled around behind us and we just kept walking backwards up the road. After we got further away from their owners tent, they relented. Nice way to get the adrenaline flowing! Dogs like that should stay at home!! We continued up the road talking about how those dogs could have ruined our trip. We were then on edge, and every strange sound we heard set us on edge. Is it light yet!?! We had read that the trail is hard to find, and guess what? Since it was dark, we missed it, and hiked all the way up to the bristlecone pine forest. After hiking back down, it was light and we saw the trail. Route was easy to follow and the summit is visible the entire way. There is some loose dirt and rock that made it just as slow coming down as going up, but overall the route isn't too tough.
On a sad note, there were two nice ladies hiking with their dog, and the dog took off after a marmot and didn't return. If anyone else reads this and was up there, and knows if the dog returned, let me know. Definitely not a good ending to their hike....Princeton was our first Collegiate 14er, and my 20th overall. Can't wait to do another one next year!

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