March 9, 2008 - Beautiful Blue Skies
Climbing up from the trailhead we examined the slopes below the first 'obstacle' (Pt. 12915) and decided that it wasn't holding sufficient snow to be an avalanche hazard and opted to traverse across the slope rather than going over to the saddle just below "Cupid". This saved a bit of climbing, but probably didn't really save much effort as the slope was slippery enough in the soft snow that was on the ground to make traction difficult.
Climbing the ridge to Cupid provided wonderful views of the Loveland ski area and at times we were startled by the concussion from what seemed like artillery fire on the ridge far to the east of us for avalanche control. It made for a somewhat surreal experience - hiking along looking at the views and all of a sudden "BOOOOOM" - you can feel the concussion in your bones... It's a bit unnerving, but since we never had an explosion near us, we soon became used to it, and it eventually stopped. I never could really tell where it was hitting, and I couldn't get the image of the sign at the traihead out of my mind that read "Warning Backcountry Users - Avalanche Blasting At Any Time Using Long Range Weaponry". I had laughed at the sign when we started out thinking to myself - 'gee, are they really gonna be shooting at us'.
This is the steepest part of the hike/climb - the first part where it actually started to feel like Class 2. The snow was just firm enough between the rocks to be a bit bothersome - you could kick into it with your boot - no crampons required, but as I slipped a little every now and then, I thought that if there were just a bit more snow, I'd stop and put on the crampons that were in my pack.
I was following tracks from an earlier climber (who we never did see, I concluded he/she must have exited via Stevens Gulch - hope he had skis), but they began to swing out in a contour to go around the Class 3 rocks on the small hump in Grizzly's ridge and I diverted here and took a more direct route - but still opted to traverse around the hump. Once above that small saddle in the ridge, it felt a bit more airy and I could see over the ridge into Grizzly Gulch - very mild exposure - just enough that I felt like I was actually on a ridge. Suddenly, it seemed, the ridge flattened out and I arrived at the summit.
Retracing Our Steps
After enjoying the summit views for a bit, we turned and retraced our steps back toward Loveland Pass. Along the way we were rewarded by a brief encounter with a couple of local residents on the south side of Cupid.
I had fun with this hike - I'd tentatively planned to perhaps continue on to Torreys and bag a winter 14er. When we were on the summit of Grizzly though, the group decision was to turn back. Not wanting to make them wait on me to do the extra mileage I went along with that group decision - wasn't really keen on hiking that bit solo anyway and I figure this gives me a great excuse to go visit Grizzly Peak again soon.