With my primary adventure partner (Derek) living in California this year as a rocket scientist (SpaceX), I decided it was a good time to branch out and do new things, things on my todo list. With Derek I was mostly trying to expose him to the classic routes and mountains. Since it was all new to him, why not do the most famous things? He’d have been fine doing about any adventure in the mountains, of course, but nevertheless it was the slight extra bit of motivation I needed to do new things.
On the 4th of July I did a cool traverse in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. I’d actually been over all the terrain before, but never this exact link and it had been ten years since I’d done the Kasparov Traverse. I hiked up to Pawnee Pass and then traversed over Shoshoni, to the Kasparov Traverse to Apache and then up Navajo. I finished by going over the Niwot Ridge, which had some more 3rd and 4th class terrain.
That adventure was solo and those can be fun, but great partners make for more fun adventures, so for this weekend I sent an email to Homie with four ideas for adventure on things I’d never done before. We settled on visiting the Never Summer Mountains in the western area of Rocky Mountain National Park. Climbing any peak there had been on my list for ten years. I kept not doing it because the drive required you to drive past the trailheads to so many other great mountains. Plus, anything there would be a pretty long outing. Perusing the guidebook I read about loose talus on every mountain. It was enough to keep putting it off. But the allure of something new is great. Real adventure has to have something uncertain about it. These mountains had been on Homie’s list as well, so there we went.
|Hiking along the Grand Ditch|
We hiked north on the dirt road for 1.7 miles until we hit a bridge crossing the aqueduct. We crossed and headed up the ?? Gulch. We followed that until the trail ended in a valley below the peaks we wanted to climb. We were both carrying Katadyn soft water bottles with a built-in filter. Unfortunately, we both forgot to fill them when we were next to the creek. We were now away from a water source and we saw no chance for water en route to our first peak: Never Summer Peak. Dang. We could hear water to our left, towards our planned last peak: Howard Peak. We made a command decision to do the traverse in the opposite direction.
|Fun scrambling up the Lake of the Clouds|
|Homie at the Lake of the Clouds|
Next up was a craggy, exposed, loose-talus scramble across Hart Ridge. This had three or more “summits” on it and, of course, Homie had us tagging them all. This wasn’t a lot of extra work because the slope to our left was steep, loose talus and to our left was a vertical precipice. Staying on the ridge, though not to close to the edge, especially with all the loose rock, was the most efficient passage. Still, it was tiring.
|The East Ridge of Howard Peak|
|Steep scrambling on Howard Peak|
We descended talus to tundra and then steeply down through sparse trees to more talus and back to our trail. Most rest of the hike out was uneventful and passed with great conversation. Then the hail started and we got a flash of lightning that we timed as just a mile away. But the hail stopped pretty quickly and we didn’t both to get out our rain shells. Then, just a quarter mile or so before we hit the Colorado River Trail, we passed a female ranger who was stopped, either to shed or don a layer of clothing. She was in great spirits and told us, “What a great day for a hike.” It wasn’t clear which direction she was headed. We moved on.
|Loose talus on the traverse of Hart Ridge|
|Downpour at the parking lot.|