Intro/StatsCO Mines Pk (12493')- CO Rank 1005
Mt Flora (13132')- CO Rank 528
Witter Pk (12884')- unranked
Mt Eva (13130')- CO Rank 544
Parry Pk (13391')- CO Rank 324
Mt Bancroft (13250')- unranked
11.2 miles RT, 4150' gain
Participants: Ryan Kowalski and Kevin Baker
This hike has been on my short list for quite some time, but either the weather or a more interesting hike put it on the back burners. Ryan contacted me late in the week looking to do something, so we decided on the 13ers off Berthoud Pass. These are the prominent peaks that are seen on the eastern horizon from Winter Park and on I-70 as you leave the foothills. I was hoping to get in Parry and Bancroft as well, so to make it an easier day we planned it as a nifty car shuttle hike, which saved us over 2000' of vertical! I would highly recommend this if you plan on getting all of these in a day.
Ryan and I met at the Genessee Park park-n-ride and he followed me up the Fall River Rd to the town of Alice. We followed FR-275 through town until we came to Stewart Rd, which leads to Loch Lomand. We had hoped to park my Maxima at the 2WD trailhead at 10400', but there was a drift right off the bat. I parked my car here at 10350', and it only added about 1/2 mile to the hike.
CO Mines Peak to Bancroft TraverseRyan drove up to Berthoud Pass and we set off at 7:10am under clear skies and a temp of 39. Today was the first time I was able to get by with trail runners up high since Sept. We went straight up the old Berthoud ski runs up CO Mines and the snow was firm enough to get by w/o snowshoes. We made short work of the steep slopes and topped out amidst the array of microwave towers at 7:47. This 12er was probably the least interesting peak on the day.
The trip over to Flora went fairly quick as well over fairly gentle slopes of tundra. There were some impressive cornices along the way that were sometimes 10 ft or so beyond the edge of the ridge.
We topped out on the northern summit of Flora at 8:52 and headed over to the marked contour to the south. It was pretty hard to tell which was higher w/o a hand level. Unranked 12er Breckenridge was nearby, but not near enough to compel us to go over there.
The other side of Flora was pretty steep, so we were glad to not have to return over this! We began to notice clouds building quickly and were worried that we could make it all the way over to Bancroft. We tried to keep our breaks to a minimum and postponed our lunch until we got to Bancroft. Since unranked Witter was so close, we decided to take the little 20 minute detour over to it. I can see why somebody named it even though it's just a bump on the ridge as its south face is very dramatic.
The next 13er was Eva and we made quick work of it as it involved only an additional 670' vertical from Flora over gentle terrain. We topped out at 10:44. Just below the summit there is a building, I think put up by a telephone company. The descent off the north ridge of Eva was a little slower as it involves some steep talus, but we were soon back on the tundra at the saddle. We were both not looking forward to the final sustained climb of the day up Parry, which is another 670' vertical.
Parry is a little steeper than the other peaks, but still not bad at all. Parry was our highpoint of the day and is a little higher than its more popular neighbor James. We got probably our best views of the day from Parry.
It looked like the weather was going to hold long enough for us to go over to Bancroft as threatening clouds didn't seem to be moving too fast. The final short climb up unranked Bancroft was not as trivial as we thought as the west ridge was still holding some snow, but we trudged on up and topped out at 12:09pm. As we approached the summit a woman was taking her shirt off, but she put it back on when she saw us coming up.
Apparently her and her boyfriend or husband were going to tele-ski down Bancroft's popular s.e. facing bowl topless! We wished them luck as they headed down to the saddle. We met them later down at Loch Lomand where the lady said they did do it, and a friend was video taping them skiing down. He didn't realize she was topless until it was too late. Whoops!
Ryan and I enjoyed our first decent break of the day on Bancroft. Bancroft has much to offer even though it's pretty much a false summit of Parry with a nice alpine ridge and some great skiing.
We were looking forward to finding some nice slopes to glissade if the snow was in good shape, so we headed down to the s.e. bowl. The snow was very wet on top, but it still felt pretty firm. We caught an awesome 700' glissade down to Lake Caroline as the snow was perfect. I didn't even need to use my axe to brake much. This was probably my 2nd funnest glissade of the year next to the Angel of Shavano. This made the many ups and downs of the day worthwhile! We saw a large group of climbers on Bancroft's sporty east ridge, perhaps a CMC group.
I gave out a yell that echoed off the walls and they responded, as well as the skiers below us.
We caught the Loch Lomand Rd at Loch Lomand and the snow was still surprisingly deep for a south facing basin all the way down to about 10800' or so, but we weren't postholing enough to need snowshoes. The skies finally unleashed some soft graupel and rain on us for the last mile or so back to my car, but it felt refreshing. We arrived back at the car at 2:13, happy to have completed a very efficient day in the mountains.