Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mount Geneva to Mount Santa Fe Traverse

On June 29, 2008 Sean and I planned to ascend Mount Geneva, Mount Santa Fe and Mount Decatur. We felt this would be a good tune up for the summer hiking season. It is always fun to climb some 13ers since there are far fewer people: providing a more pure alpine experience.

To get there you take Guanella Pass Road, then make a right at FR 119 and take it to the gate. From the gate hike up the road past a nice cabin. We weren't sure exactly where to leave the road, so we decided to start bushwhacking just past the first Y. It turns out we ascended a very steep section of Mount Landslide. In hindsight we should have continued up the road further before leaving it. No matter, it was a good quad burner. Once atop Landslide we followed the ridge crest over to Geneva. This section is a pleasant high altitude hike with the usual stunning Colorado views (photo 1 atop Geneva). The descent from Geneva offered the only scramble section for the day, but you must work to make it happen. It is worth it since following the trail is quite uninteresting.

The ascent of Santa Fe is again steep and by now the legs were feeling weaker. Once atop Santa Fe we felt like conquerors so we chose to descend the steep ridge heading straight for the road far below (photo 2). This meant we wouldn't bag Mount Decatur, but from this apex it looked like a long way over there with much altitude loss and gain.

About half way down the face of Mount Santa Fe we found a wonderful snow field. I failed to bring an ice axe, but Sean had his. The run out seemed safe and the angle wasn't extreme, so I felt comfortable doing a glissade sans axe. It was quite fun! We found another steeper glissade heading down to lake. This one was a bit more challenging, and I started thinking I should never leave the truck without an ice axe. You never know when you will encounter good snow even in the dog days of summer. Check out the third photo.

Once down to the lake we plunge stepped the rest of the snow past the beautiful waterfall in this last photo. Our goal was to avoid the quagmire in the basin, but it pursued us no matter our course. We light-footed it across the swamp and were fortunate to find the road home.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Second FlatIron 2008

More fun times climbing Free Way on the Second FlatIron high above Boulder, Colorado. On this fine June day my climbing partner was my son Dalton. It was the first time Dalton had joined me; usually it is Matt. Both are better scramblers than I am, but I still have just as much fun.

Approaching the 2nd from Chautauqua Park there were many people on the trail. Too many. The bottom of the climb is the most technical, just because it is steeper and has fewer holds. The holds become more plentiful the farther up you go.

Eventually we climbed to the point where you must make a flying leap to the rock below. The jump isn't hard to make, but it makes one ponder it for a few minutes. The jump is much easier than trying the downclimb.

We climbed to the high point because the last few hundred feet is a whole lot of fun. When you do this you must downclimb in order to reach the exit point on the North side of the rock. The exit point is always a bit of a move if you don't do it all the time, but not hard.

I think Dalton had fun on his first FlatIron climb!

Holy Cross Bike Ride

My brother Larry and I hooked up for a mountain bike ride for the first time. Larry has recently taken up the sport and is gung ho to ride the entire Kokopelli trail in September. We headed out to Fruita Colorado to take on Mary's Loop. Instead we took a wrong turn and ended up riding Rustler's Loop.

After finishing the easy ride, we headed into town and the Board N Buckle to pick up some riding gloves. The friendly staff recommended a fairly new ride called Pet-E-Kes in the lunch loop area on the road to Colorado National Monument. Pet-E-Kes is an intermediate trail that is quite a hoot to ride.

At the top of Pet-E-Kes we decided to head down Holy Cross. Holy Cross is an expert ride with a few crucial crux sections. Larry and I walked our bikes quite a bit. He even crashed and gashed his leg. The trail is named after a particularly gnarly section next to an old wooden cross. We stopped and watched the Yeti Team give it a whirl. Most made it, but even some of them could not clean the steep rocks.

Stay tuned for more on our Kokopelli quest...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mount Eva Descent

On the last day of May, 2008 Sean and I hiked to the top of 13,130 ft Mount Eva and skied down. Well I snowboarded down. The road was not entirely passable up to the reservoir, so we had to hike the road for about a mile. From the reservoir you head south up a steep drainage from the upper lakes for about a quarter mile. From there you head west to the ridgeline. The mileage from the main reservoir is about 2.25 miles to the summit of Mount Eva.

The final leg to the summit is a fairly steep snowclimb. I had to remove my snowshoes and front point the final 300 feet. It might have been nice to have crampons, but the ascent was never unsafe.

From the summit you ski down the ridge line for about 100 yards to an old tower station. From there a notch in the ridge allows access to the snow slope. This slope was perfect corn snow. Bearing to the left allows access to another slope down to the flats and marshes.

After the flat marshes you get a final snow slope down to the upper reservoirs. This snow was much slushier. The stickiness of the snow caused me some problems on my board, but we made it back.