Intro/Stats“Golden Bear Pk”- (13010’)
Hagar Mtn- (13220’)
April 14, 2007
5.9 miles RT, 2860’ gain
From Eishenhower Tunnel
Participants: John and Renata Collard, Kevin Baker
John, Renata, and I are planning a climb of Mt Hood next month and hoped to get out to RMNP to practice glacier travel on Andrews Glacier. We scrapped those plans with all the recent snow and wind loading going on and decided to take a shot at “Golden Bear” and Hagar just north of Eisenhower Tunnel. Access to these peaks in winter conditions is somewhat problematic as the standard route up Dry Gulch is avy prone and the route up the service road to the divide from Loveland is doubtful. We decided to press our luck by parking on the west side of Eisenhower Tunnel and head up a basin that looked like it could offer a safe route.
Golden BearJohn parked on the north side of I-70 and none of the workers said anything to us as we were getting ready. So far, so good! We set out at 8:27am with a temp of 18 degrees. The winds were fairly calm to start, so I got by with a soft shell. I was worried about the quality of snow from the start since Loveland had reported 36 inches of snow in the last 10 days. We surprisingly found the snow to be well consolidated with 3-4” of fresh powder on top from the last storm.
As we made our way up the basin, there were sizeable cornices along the ridge at the head of the basin and the slopes were loaded. We decided to leave the basin early and head up somewhat wind scoured slopes to the Continental Divide. This would put us just south of Golden Bear’s summit. There was still enough snow on the slopes to keep our snowshoes on and we crested the ridge at around 12800’. The wind was now picking up as expected, but wasn’t more than around 30mph gusts.
We stayed away from the ski area boundary as there were some ski patrol workers setting off explosives to knock down cornices. We topped out on Golden Bear at around 10:20, taking in the views over to nearby 12er Coon Hill and the Gore range. We got our first view of Hagar from here, and this climb was quite a treat.
Traverse to Hagar and DescentI decided to go sans snowshoes on the traverse over to Hagar while John and Renata left their's on. There was actually still enough on the ridge to warrant using them. This ridge is a pleasant walk with a few minor bumps to go up and down along the way. The prevailing n.w. wind was now a factor, but we couldn’t complain as it was actually warm enough to go without goggles for once!
The final slope up to the false summit of Hagar is a steep grind, but there were enough rocks poking out of the snow to continue up without an axe. I eyed a nice slope to the right that looked like a nice glissade if conditions were stable. I was looking forward to seeing what surprise the small summit block of Hagar held as it would no doubt be a challenge in winter conditions. I crested the false summit and left my pack in the notch between the two.
I brought crampons in case the snow was icy on the summit block, but the snow was soft enough to kick steps. A fall to the south could have been easily arrested, so I proceeded up the deep snow on class 3 rock employing the dagger technique with my axe. This would probably go as class 2+ in dry conditions. Once past the steep drift, it gave way to a couple of exposed moves to the airy summit.
Wow, this summit isn’t much roomier than Teakettle’s! I’m surprised this 13er sees so few visitors as the views from this airy perch are stupendous. There wasn’t enough room for a group summit shot, so Renata took one of me from the false summit. I topped out at 12:37 and watched John and Renata navigate the summit block. I left them a nice staircase on snow to climb.
The only drawback to this hike is there is no sense of solitude. We saw several snowmobilers out today and a group of them came all the way up to the north ridge of Hagar about 700 ft below us. One crazy soul jumped over a cornice in the snowmobile! We could see skiers on the slopes of Loveland below. Just as we were about to leave, a snowboarder crested the false summit. It was a surprise to see him! I traversed over to another point a few feet to the east. I couldn’t tell which was higher.
The downclimb was not a problem as the kicked steps really helped. We chatted with the snowboarder who was about to take a run down the s.e. face of Hagar. He wasn’t too sure about the condition of the slope, but proceeded anyway. I tried shooting a video of him, but pushed the wrong button. We saw him zoom down about 1000’ in less than a minute. The descent down the steep slope to the saddle was quick as we avoided the icy rocks with a nice glissade on stable snow. We took a lunch break at the saddle and I practiced a little self arrest off a mini snowbridge.
Since we had encountered stable snow throughout the day, we decided to look for a safe line to glissade at the head of the basin instead of retracing our steps over Golden Bear. We snowshoed down a ways to make sure conditions were still favorable and glissaded down a moderate slope to the head of the basin. The snow was in such good shape that our snowshoes were only sinking a few inches in 40 degree weather! This was one of the few hikes I have done in winter conditions without any significant postholing! We could see some pretty aggressive ski tracks on the s.e. face of Coon Hill.
We took our time soaking up the views and made it back to the drone of I-70 traffic at 4:20. We could see our glissade tracks as we got on I-70. I would rank Hagar as one of my favorite Front Range 13ers to date. Spring is here!