I have hiked inwindy conditions, but our attempt on Princeton had to be one of the windiest yet, and my cheeks showed it for a week and a half! HikeLikeaGirl called to see if we made it to the top, I called her on the way home and told her we only made it to the top of Tigger due to the horrendous wind. She kindly offered to come with me in 2wks if I wanted to try again. I graciously declined saying something to the effect that i really didn't care to do the standard route again in the winter, I'll wait for summer and do it via Grouse Canyon.
How soon we forget....
Well, here it is 2wks later and I find myself hiking up the road to the radio towers for another attempt at Princeton! Unfortunately, it wasn't the well packed road from 2wks before.
Sunrise over the Sangres
We made fairly decent time up to the radio towers. It was actually a bit breezy in the trees which brought back all of those forgotten memories of 2wks ago. I was hoping today would not be a repeat! In order to miss the avy prone areas and cut the switchbacks we stared to cut up a slope through the trees. Surprisingly, the snow wasn't too deep. We popped out on to the first road and ran into Mike who was here from Kansas City heading for Princeton also. We were headed back into the trees to cut up to the next section, but right off the snow was too soft and deep which wasn't very appealing. We decided to head down the road and cut up next to one of the avy areas where the snow was hopefully wind blown.. And it was.
We climbed up the section of rocks
Again we were going to head into the trees to top out on the slope, but the snow was still too soft and deep, so we followed the road around. Once we made it onto the top we stashed our snowshoes under a piece of a dead tree. Believe it or not there was no wind and I was pretty warm.
First look at Princeton
At the start of the day we weren't sure if we wanted to go over Tigger and aross the ridge or take a more direct route. Once we were up there we saw a few nice rock bans through the snowfields, so we decided to head for them and gain the ridge when we needed to.
One of the rock bans
On the other side we ran into an avy chute so we started heading up to a flat looking area above where we skirted below and around a knob on the ridge. I think we all came away from the rocks battered and bruised as we all postholed between the rocks multiple times, and this was just the beginning.
Looking up towards the knob
Looking back at what we traversed
At this point it started to snow a little. And by the time we gained the ridge Princeton had disappeared.
Looking towards Princeton
Even though the rocks were getting a bit slippery with the fresh snow, we made decent time across the ridge and were headed up Princeton before we knew it. We could never actually see the summit once we gained the ridge, so we never really knew how close we were getting!
Matt & Mike making what we thought was the final push to the summit
But of course it was a false summit and the true summit was the next one up. Unfortunately, there were no view from the top, but that didn't stop us from sitting there for 20 minutes. I couldn't believe how warm it was, not to mention there still wasn't any wind.
Looking back at the final ascent
Mike giving the thumbs up
We knew since the snow did not seem to be letting up, we needed to get going. All of the powder on the rocks made for a slippery descent. Once we were back on the lower ridge the snow was really falling and made for poor visibility. We had originally planned to head back down the way we came. The fresh snow would disguise the avy chutes, so we decided to stick to the ridge and descend from Tigger.
Looking at the ridge where we needed to go
We made our way across the ridge and ascended what we thought was Tigger. I made a comment to the likes of, that wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. As we headed down the other side the falling snow slowed just long enought to see the real Tigger looming ahead. That tood the wind out of my sails! It was beginning to get dark when we finally made it to the top of Tigger which made for a fun descent, but with Matt and Mikes's excellent navigation skills and my brighter headlamp we eventually made it down, albeit in a roundabout way. ;) The whole mountain was blanketed in at least 8 inches of new snow, and it was still coming down. This made it pretty tricky considering the last time we saw Tigger earlier in the day it was mostly rocks. And believe it or not we even stumbled upon the dead tree that we stashed our snowshoes under. I really didn't care if we found them or not. I was exhausted and just wanted to get down, but it was a great feeling to know I wouldn't have to come back for them another day! However, we were lucky that we found them because we ended up breaking trail again all the way back to the TH! The road from the radio towers to the TH was never ending! We were like 3 zombies making our way down. Thanks to all of the snow and trail breaking, this turned into a very looooong 18hr day!!!
This is definitely one epic day that I will NOT soon forget!