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Rosa the long, hard way
Trip Report

Rosa the long, hard way


Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.75400°N / 104.948°W

Object Title: Rosa the long, hard way

Date Climbed/Hiked: May 20, 2005


Page By: cftbq

Created/Edited: May 21, 2005 /

Object ID: 170087

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I left my home in Cheyenne Cañon, about one-half mile below the entrance to North Cheyenne Cañon Park, at about 6200 feet elevation, at roughly 6:40 am. I ran up the full length of the Columbine Trail (which parallels the road up North Cheyenne Cañon), then the short section of the Cañon road which leads to the parking lot where High Drive meets Gold Camp Road, and the road becomes a trail. I followed the closed road to the collapsed Tunnel #3, where the trail up Buffalo Creek to St. Mary's Falls begins. After reaching the Falls (really a cascade), I climbed the rather steep switchbacks which run alongside it. From there, the trail heads west and southwest, until it joins with an old logging road, and begins the serious climbing up the east slopes of Mt. Rosa. I was still running at this point, stripped down to summer running clothes, and enjoying the slowing rising heat of a beautiful day of sun filtered by high, thin clouds.
From this point, at about 9500 ft. the trail becomes much steeper, and the run often slowed to nothing more than a power walk, but I didn't mind, as I was gaining elevation rapidly. Working hard, I followed the steep trail as it switchbacked generally west, and gained the saddle between Mt. Rosa and its unnamed neighbor to the north at about 11:15. Then the really interesting stuff began.
I had been trying to make a run to the summit every week for the preceding month, always being turned back by slowly receding snow, which made the trail hard or impossible to find (it's no problem when the ground is bare), and which always slowed me down with stretches of postholing. I wore only running shoes, and could not see any sense in carrying snowshoes all that way. Every week the snow had retreated a little farther up the mountain, but, after reaching the saddle in cloudy, damp weather the week before, I was still without a successful summitting.
This time, I encountered only tiny patches of snow in the trail as far as the saddle, thanks to a week of wonderfully warm weather, free of new preciptation. But there was still snow on the final section of the trail to the summit, which runs up the north side of the peak, and it really slowed me down.
In places, the snow was still four feet deep, completely covering and obscuring the trail. Still, I decided that, having climbed this mountain at least seven times before, I know it well enough that, even if I lost the trail (I did, more than once), I would eventually find it again ( I did). I also decided that, no matter how much it slowed me down, I would push on to the summit this time. As a result, even though it took me almost an hour to slog up a section of trail which, in summer, I have negotiated in as little as 15 minutes, I finally ran around the final turn and out onto the summit at about a quarter after noon. The clouds were finally completely dissapating just about then, and I sat for about 15 minutes, all alone, quite comfortable in my shorts and sleeveless shirt, and snapped a few pictures. (The pictures are low-tech film, rather then digital, so they are not developed yet, but I will post one or two of them when the film finally gets developed.) The register did not seem to contain any dated entries later then February, so I still don't know whether or not I was the first person to gain the summit this year from the east side. If anyone can shed any light on this question, I would appreciate it.
Most people climb this mountain from the west, starting from much higher, in which case it is a simple part-day hike. I climbed over 5300 feet on the ascent, and was still running when I got back home, some nine and one-half hours and 5500 feet (there are some ups-and-downs in Cheyenne Cañon which add to the total elevation gain) later. All in all, a wonderful adventure for the first really warm (90 degrees) day of spring/early summer.


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