Saturday, July 16, 2011

Solo Day on Long's Peak

Date Climbed: 07/16/2011
Peak: Long's Peak (14255')
        Ascent Lambslide to Loft route- moderate snow Class 3
        Descent- Northface Class 3 with 2 rappels
Start: 4:40 am  Summit: 9:40 am  End: 1:20 pm
Gear: Crampons, Ice Tools, 50m rope, helmet, belay device, harness

Sunrise on the trail
I had been wanting to do Long's peak since I came to Colorado, but I always tried to get a partner to come. After failing multiple times to obtain a partner I decided to go alone since I have become more confident in my climbing skills. I left Boulder at 3:40 am and started hiking an hour later. I made it to tree-line in about an hour and to Chasm Lake in the next hour.
Chasm Lake and Long's
Long's East Face
Mt. Meeker (13911')
At the base of the Lambslide I put on my crampons and started up the snow.
Long's Gigantic East Face from Chasm Lake
The Lambslide
The snow quality is definitely suffering. There were a few occasions where the snow broke loose under my feet and I almost started sliding. After I got to the top of the Lambslide I continued to the Loft, a giant football field sized flat saddle in between Mt. Meeker and Long's. I kept an eye out for the cairns that mark the route to the summit. The route was hard to find at times since it is not very popular (though this says nothing of the quality and fun of the route).  The Loft route is an exposed class 3 traverse. I'm pretty sure some of the route was class 4.
Traverse from the Loft
Right before the route connected with the more popular Keyhole route at the Homestretch, I had to once again don my crampons for the surviving snow aprons on Long's south face. Once I got the Homestretch it was a simple scramble to the top of the mountain.
The Homestretch
I spent about 20 min on the top and had some lunch.
Toward Boulder from the summit
The rest of the Rockies
After lunch I threw on my harness, and set off down the Northface. The class 3 climbing on the Northface was pretty easy. When I got to the anchors for the rappel there was already a group of three making there way down it. It took them a very long time to exit the rock fall zone, so I had to wait for them to clear out completely so I wouldn't pummel them with stuff I might have knocked loose. I was finally able to set up my rappel, but I stuggled with the rope tangling over and over. I finally got it figured out and took both rappels to the snow slope below.
North Face
Last look at the North Face and East Face from the Boulderfield
The snow slope led to the boulderfield and the standard Long's peak trail. The hike down was painful, but uneventful. Long's was one of my favorite mountains, I would try another route again.

Tour d' Abyss- Mt. Bierstadt-Sawtooth-Mt. Evans

Date Climbed: 06/09/2011
Peaks: Mt. Bierstadt, Sawtooth, Mt. Evans
Route: Tour d' Abyss- Class 3 3000' 5 miles
Start: 6:40 am  End: 10:40 am

Josh, Michael, and I drove up to 13300' on Mt. Evans road and started off on the trail. The trail led to a gully that dropped down into the valley in between Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans.

Half way down the gully
Once we reached the bottom of the gully we made our way across the valley through some marsh-like terrain. Josh's shoes got soaked, mine are lined with gortex so my feet stayed dry. On the other side of the valley we were met with the most exhausting part of the climb, a large grass slope to the East Ridge of Bierstadt.
Near the top of the grass slope
View from ridge
Once we gained the ridge the fun class 3 climbing started. The climbing was very exposed at times. The most fun part of the East Ridge were the grass ledges. The ledges were only a few feet wide and were bordered by a deadly drop.
The grass ledges
Mt. Bierstadt from the highpoint on the East Ridge
Josh and Michael on Point 13, something'
From the high point on the East Ridge, we continued to scramble on both large and small boulders all the way to the summit of Bierstadt.
Summit of Bierstadt looking toward the next objective...The Sawtooth
On the summit looking toward the East Ridge
After we summited Bierstadt, we talked about our next objective... The Sawtooth. I overheard another group talking about the same route, a few of the other group expressed that they were gonna pass because they were worried about the difficulty and the reports of the women who had slipped and died on it weeks earlier. We decided to go for it. Glad we did because it was very, very easy. The exposure was pretty intense. The route up the Sawtooth is on a ledge covered in loose dirt and rocks and to the left is a 1000' drop. However, it felt very safe and secure.
Loose conditions on The Sawtooth
Josh on the Sawtooth traverse... the exit can be seen in the top of the photo
After the over hyped Sawtooth traverse we made our way to the trail for the West Ridge of Mt. Evans. The trail to Mt. Evans summit was very easy and straight forward. We hung out on the top for awhile and shot some summit photos. There were a lot of people on the summit, since Mt. Evans has the highest paved road in the U.S. After the summit we made our way back to the car.
Summit Diving Board
Josh on the Diving Board