Peak(s):  Mt. Lincoln  -  14,286 feet
Date Posted:  08/16/2010
Date Climbed:   08/14/2010
Author:  northcountry
 Lincoln--Quartzville (Putnam Gulch)  

A tip about climbing the Putnam Gulch route up Lincoln.

I tried it on Saturday, the 14th, and ran into a problem on that route. It started out fine. I had the maps and the description and printed out several of the pics of the route from this website. I left the jeep road and the route was clear across the stream in the Gulch below the black rock cliffs and up into the trench that heads NW. I found a trail up the right side of the trench paralleling its way maybe 20 feet above the bottom all the way up. The trench is very tempting as it's nice and stable, grassy, with little or no loose scree and the trail is easy going, albeit rather faint in spots. I followed up maybe half a mile and several hundred vertical feet from the stream crossing in Putnam Gulch till I saw a couple of 4"X4" posts near the top of the trench next to a squarish white rock, one smack in the middle of the bottom of the trench and another a little way up the slope to the south. So I thought I was on the right track. I crossed the trench there heading south and west up the north slope of the east shoulder.

It's still a very easy slope"no trail, but you can climb almost anywhere up that slope and you can see the 4WD roads above. I climbed up to the road and discovered that I wasn't sure if I was on the right one. I was going to just turn right, but the road started going down and back north toward the head of Lincoln Amphitheater and the top of the trench I'd just come up. Bill's trail guide states that if you're on the main 4WD trail, to keep left, as several mining roads take off to the right.

Well, I think I may have found every damn one of those roads. They were there, but they were overgrown and they would crap out unexpectedly (one stopped just short of the top of the black rock cliffs that you can see from the stream in Putnam Gulch). I had my 8-year-old daughter with me, who loves climbing and has done four 14ers in the last month with me, including Democrat and Cameron from Kite Lake the week before. But when I got turned around several times, trying to figure out which road led back to the main 4WD road, where I could turn right and continue the climb, she finally said, "Pops, you don't know where you're going, do you?" I had to admit she was right and as we were both getting tired with the false alleys we'd take and then have to backtrack, I realized we weren't getting any closer to the top, so we finally got disillusioned and turned around. On the map, it looks like we were about 13,400 when we did.

The problem (I think) is that I stayed in the trench far too long. I think that's the one that has the pics for skiing down on the website. I believe my error was staying in the trench at all. As easy and stable as the route is, there's no trail, so you're never sure if you're going the right way. That's why I stayed in the Trench"it was the only trail, so I thought that was the one I was supposed to be on. Even getting onto the 4WD trails turned out to be a false hope as we couldn't find out where the main road from Cameron Amphitheatre was (and wouldn't have known it if we did, as there weren't any signs on those roads, at least the ones we were on). As I looked at the pics on this website again, I see I should have left the trench immediately and crossed back to the south side and climbed out of the trench to follow the east shoulder from its beginning. Maybe I would have known the 4WD road when I saw it. I've got a fair amount of high-country hiking experience, including Alaska, where I lived for many years, but when you're not on a trail and aren't sure if you're going the right way, you can get pretty weirded out.

I may try the Quartzville route again this weekend, but I think I'd rather stick with the 4WD road up through Cameron Amphitheatre. It's longer, but it's a little more of a secure feeling than not being on a trail and thinking you're lost that high up.

The other problem is the pics don't look the same when you're there in summer. The pics are mostly winter shots and I didn't recognize the landmarks.

Ah, well. My fault. My biggest mistake was that I never picked up that there wasn't a trail. I should have been a lot more sure of my route from the maps and pics, especially when there was no trail to follow. Too easy to get lost, even when you can see the summit the whole way. Hope this helps someone else who tries this route. Joe

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