Four Lonely Climbers ascend Western Colorado's Lone Cone Peak
Lonely Climbers on the Western Front
At 12,613' Lone Cone Peak stands the furthest west of any mountain in Colorado. Its lonely summit commands respect from many angles and delivers respectable views in return...at least I'm sure it would if there wasn't so much wildfire smoke permeating the western Colorado sky.
Tom Ela and I had plans to knock-off one of our high 100 peaks of Colorado goals near Salida. With gas prices high and our legs not yet pounded into shape we searched for a closer and perhaps easier mountain to explore. Randi and I have been blessed with a gorgeous new baby boy Asa Anderson. I was starring down a third wedding anniversary, and my family has yet to go camping this summer... I had the perfect round of excuses to do man stuff like climb a mountain…but one close to home.
My brother Dirk reminded us of the interesting Lone Cone 130 miles from Grand Junction. I called Chuck Bodie who had always dreamed of winding up the esoterically named highpoint at the end of the San Miguel chain in the San Juan Mountains. He declined to go for non manly family reasons. Chuck will have to lone the Lone Cone another time. I called Josh Nichols and convinced his wife Katie and stellar Wienemeyer dogs should come. We had a tribe of mixed species families camping and boating at the gorgeous Woods Lake Campground on Saturday. A lively fire, card-games beverages rounded out the evening social activities.
Five AM Sunday morning the males awoke and rallied. No time for brakes or coffee. Dirk charged down the road past roaming elk herds and green meadows, later discovering a posted 20 MPH speed limit, and he still didn't heed the warning.
After passing the place we backtracked to the unmarked trailhead on the Northeast shoulder of the mountain and hiked upward. Tom 'split off and lonered' his own route on the ridge above, Josh Dirk, and I trundled through the woods to meet at the bottom of the rocky north facing Devil's Chair of Lone Cone. We parted ways and ridges. Dirk and I headed for the much feared Northeast Ridge Route which turned out to have very avoidable difficulties and an easy slab to the top. Tom and Josh cooked it up the boulder filled Northwest Ridge and waited 10-20 minutes for Dirk and I to top out on the summit. The new Grand Junction Loners Club united to high five on the summit and take in the smoke filled vista's...or not. We returned to the women in camp who were ready to leave the heat at 9,000 feet, if you believe that 9’ooo feet could be hot, but it is July.
Lone Cone is a great mountain trip for the whole family and not too far from town. Woods Lake is a well kept secret. Maybe keep them both under your cone so other loners can enjoy them too…or not.