Intro/StatsSquaw Mtn (11500')
Papoose Mtn (11174')
Chief Mtn B (11709')
Jan 1, 2008
5.8 miles RT, 1900' gain
From CO-103 (10640')
Participants: Jim Ohl and Kevin Baker
Jim and I had slim hopes of a New Years Day death march on Evans, but those hopes were dashed with a nasty wind forecast. We were already up in the Denver area for New Years Eve ice skating in Evergreen with friends, so we decided to salvage the day on some 11ers in the same area.
The Squaw to Chief Traverse via PapooseI did very little research on these peaks other than getting a route from Jeremy Hakes. I figured we didn't need to have much info to be successful on this short hike though. We set out at a less than alpine start of 9:30am, heading up a well tracked road heading s.e. to the Squaw/Papoose saddle. We were surprised at how popular these peaks are and were happy to cruise up the gentle road without much effort. From the saddle, the road traverses up the southern slopes of Squaw before switchbacking to the top. It took us only an hour to reach Squaw.
We climbed up the nice lookout tower and enjoyed the views over to the Evans group, surprised at how much the slopes had been scoured. My snafu for the day was assuming that the bumps on Squaw's summit ridge to the n.w. were lower. The topo only shows one closed countour above 11400', so I didn't visit those. When I got home, lists of John said that the middle summit is higher! I also failed to realize that nearby 11er Warrior was ranked. Guess I'll be coming back to Squaw and Warrior!
After a 30 min break, we headed over to unranked Papoose, following the road back to the saddle.
From the saddle, the trail breaking began in about 2-2.5 ft of unconsolidated powder. This was tough work, but we only had about 3/10 mile and 350' vertical to Papoose. Papoose offered a short snowshoe scramble in deep drifts to the summit as we arrived at 12:05.
The view over to Chief didn't look like a slam dunk, as it was much steeper. We bounded down Papoose's west slopes and hoped to find the trail to Chief. Much to our surprise, we heard voices and found a nicely broken trail, our easy ticket to the summit!
Our only disappoinment was we would not be the first to summit Chief in 2008, although we were the first to do the Papoose traverse! We probably came across 20 people on our Chief hike, which reminded me of summer hikes on 14ers! We ditched our snowshoes at treeline and made great time up to the summit, topping out to great views in all directions at 1:07.
Surprisingly, the wind wasn't too bad on the summit and we were able to break there for 20 min. The hike back down to the car was short and sweet on the heavily used Chief trail. We left the trail and followed a road a couple hundred feet above the highway before making a beeline direct snowshoe surf back to the car through the deep powder, arriving back at the car at 2pm. It was a great day to celebrate 2008!