Archive for the ‘breckenridge’ Tag

Colorado 14ers

Three of them in two days.

I woke up in Leadville to find frost covering my car, and stared out the window to see the peaks of the Sawatch Range covered in snow. Originally, I was intending to attempt Mt. Elbert, but instead headed further east. I figured that there would be less snow cover the further east I traveled, so I decided to hike Quandary Peak (14265′, 4349 m), Breckenridge’s local 14er, accessed by a relatively short, Class 1 hike. After some switchbacks in the woods, the trail gains the ridge and follows it to the summit.

Mountain goat

Trail following the ridgeline

Tenmile Range, view looking north

Tomorrow's 14ers, Bross, Lincoln, Cameron, Democrat, Mosquito Range

I drove the following day over Hoosier Pass to Alma, and took the very rough, steep road up to Kite Lake. The road is barely passable for 2WD vehicles, and requires plenty of care for 4WD, low clearance vehicles (like mine). After yesterday’s 3500 ft. elevation gain, I was ready for something a bit easier. Kite Lake is a gateway to a cluster of 14ers, Mts. Bross (14172′, 4321 m, closed), Democrat (14148′, 4313 m), Cameron (14239′, 4341 m), and Lincoln (14286′, 4355 m). I hiked to the saddle, and headed to Cameron and Lincoln. The first of them, Mt. Cameron, is little more than a broad, rounded pile of rocks, pretty unexceptional. Mt. Lincoln is a short walk away, down a couple hundred feet to another small saddle, and then a scramble around a false summit and finally up to the true summit.

The view from Lincoln is expansive, with the double bumps of Grays and Torreys to the northeast, the Sawatch Range to the west, and far in the distance across Park County, Pikes Peak and the Sangre de Cristos.

Mt. Lincoln from Mt. Cameron, Grays and Torreys Peaks on the left

View looking southeast, Kite Lake basin in the foreground, CO 9, Park County, and Pikes Peak in the background

Summit of Mt. Lincoln, that's a very steep drop in front.

Well, that was enough. I skipped Bross and Democrat, made my way back down, and carefully drove back to my lodging in Silverthorne.

They’re tough hikes, punishingly steep, but short.

The outstanding website 14ers.com has loads of useful information for anyone interested in hiking / climbing these peaks in Colorado.

 

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Colorado and New Mexico, March-April 2010, part 1

Now that I’m unemployed (anyone want to hire a highly qualified biochemist?), I seem to have plenty of time on my hands.

So with the help of an Epic Pass, the string of Colorado resorts along or near the I-70 corridor are within financial reach.

March 30- After a 90 minute drive the night before from Albuquerque to Espanola, I drove the last 60 miles to Taos. This was my first legitimate spring riding day this season, with a cool breeze on the ridgeline, slush at the bottom, and one lousy last run down an icy Al’s run. I got on the road by around 4:30 PM and drove north along the spine of the Sangre de Cristos to Salida, CO. This is the wickedest range in Colorado, a jagged ridgeline rising 6000 feet from the San Luis Valley, somewhat reminiscent of the Sierras and the Owens Valley in California.

The Sangre de Cristos

March 31- Breckenridge, turned out to be the only nice day, packed powder at the top, with moderate winds, a bit icy in the middle and windy, and spring slush and warm temps at the bottom. It was a smooth drive from Salida with great views of the University Range, with the exception of a near wipeout on an icy spot on the hairpin turns of Hoosier Pass. Good times otherwise. They groom the resort perfectly, and the various rollers and hits are fun to bomb down. It’s not a steep mountain overall, though.

Mt. Princeton and Buena Vista, CO

Top of Imperial Express, Breckenridge, looking north

April 1- Beaver Creek, dust on some very rough crust in the morning, which became a whiteout by late morning, and continual snowfall and winds in the afternoon. The snowfall turned a crappy day into a great one, despite a broken binding that needed fixing. The bonus was getting over Vail Pass during that 45 minute window of being open, otherwise I would have been stuck in a shelter in Vail for the night. But the driving was downright hazardous.

Mid-afternoon break in the weather, Beaver Creek

April 2- Breckenridge, powder day in early April. No, not bottomless stuff, but still excellent. It was downright cold, though, luckily I packed the cold weather gear.

April 3- Breckenridge, this time it lived up to its moniker Breckenfridge. Rode the top lifts until it was shut down due to high winds in early afternoon. The crowds were minimal, nobody was riding the top lift, although the snow was excellent. Oh, and I think the reason why was the beerfest in town.

April 4- Keystone, okay half day, since I went all out the past five days. The sun finally came out, although it was still somewhat unsettled. Hooked up with another solo rider who showed me some of the goods in the woods. And he proceeded to take multiple bong hits, Keystoned indeed. Then it was back south towards New Mexico, via Climax, Leadville, Alamosa. . .

Leadville, CO

April 10- An afternoon at Ski Santa Fe, probably my last day this season, nothing exceptional, but it was outstanding snow cover for New Mexico, which had an excellent season, and I hiked the peak behind the top lift. It’s a 15 minute walk or so at 12,000+ feet, and, it looks like excellent backcountry / sidecountry descents back there, but well, I’ll save it for another day and do it with a partner.

Obligatory self-portrait at the summit, showing off my $2 beanie purchased in Morocco

Sangre de Cristos in New Mexico, Santa Fe Baldy and Truchas Peaks

So that’s my season, 21 days. I was hoping for more, but who knows?