Rank: Elevation: 2,560; Prominence: 322
Date: 23 October, 2007
Participants: cftbq (and Elmo)
Distance: ~3 miles
Vertical: ~1,200 ft.
TH: Intersection of FS 368 and FS 369, west of the summit
With my usual weekday canine hiking companions kenneled due to their humans being out of town, I found myself freer than usual to experiment. With a beautiful, warm (for October), sunny day at my disposal, I decided to make my first try for a local summit which I had been putting off for a long time. I had put it off partly because access seemed to be a problem, but more because the limited information available described the climb as a bushwhack, with little or no actual trail. I didn’t know how long it might take.
Carefully reading and following the one good trip report I had on the southwest approach to the mountain, I drove out Old Stage Road (FS 368) to the turn-off for the Stables at the Broadmoor (FS 369). This intersection lies about 5.4 miles past where the pavement ends, and is clearly marked. It is just south of the crest of a hill on the road, and back at the crest of that hill I located the gravel mound (on the east side of the road) which marks the starting point of the hike. It’s not very big, and is now partially covered, at the bottom, by the dirt pushed aside by the now-frequent plowing of this road.
East of the road, a fairly clear path presents itself up the steep slope of gravel and scree. This path might have once been a rough 4WD road or trail, or it might be just a gully. Whatever it is, it is clear of timber and leads pretty much straight up the slope. It is loose, but I didn’t find it really hard to climb. I can’t say whether the incomplete covering of early season snow helped or hindered. I was, however, dealing with a few inches of snow right from the beginning. I was glad I’d worn gaiters. I would be mainly on snow-covered ground for the entire trip.
After topping out the first hill, I turned right (north), and again found what seemed like an obvious clear path leading along the ridge. The snow might or might not have been covering a faint trail. Trail or not, the path led, just as I had been led to expect, to a slight drop to a saddle to the east after a few hundred yards. Glimpses through the trees confirmed that turning right (east) here would indeed lead me to a major ridge rising to the east. After coming up over a gentle rise, I dropped again, this time to a smaller but more significant saddle (about 8,620 ft.), and the real climb began.
Despite the timber, both living and downed, and the fact that snow hid most of the rocks, it wasn’t very tough going. Also, it was easy enough to stay near the gentle crest of the ridge. While the snow required slowing down just a bit, it also allowed me to leave a very clear set of tracks which I knew I could follow on the descent (barring any major misdirections...). Partly because of this, I plodded on at a decent pace, with no worry over the fact that I couldn’t see where I would finally encounter the summit ridge, or even how far ahead it was.
Before long (I didn’t even bother to look at my watch to see just how long) I began to see more blue sky in front of me, and I reached the north-south oriented summit ridge, just to the south of a small, rocky ridge point. Based on my readings and the map, I figured I would have to go over (or perhaps around) two or three such points before coming to the actual summit.
The summit ridge is a bit more sharply formed than the southwest ridge leading up to it, but its upward slope is considerably less. I estimate that I only had to climb a bit over 100 feet along the summit ridge. As I had expected, after going over two quite small high points, I approached a larger one. Rocks and timber convinced me to veer off to the right (east) to approach the top, and I remember thinking that it would be too much to hope that I had reached the true summit this soon. But I had. Because of all the trees, I had to get right up to the very top before I could see that there wasn’t a higher point farther on, but I also saw the small pole anchored in the rocks which looked like a summit marker.
Sure enough, a moment of poking around in the snow at the pole’s base revealed another one of Mike Garrat’s spiral-notebook-in-a-jar registers, placed there in November of 2005. Inspection revealed that just six people had signed it in the nearly two years intervening! This made me all the gladder to have made this climb. I also wonder if it will remain so rarely visited, now that the summit and east slopes have been added to the new Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The register had been placed just a few days short of two years earlier, and, coincidentally, it had been exactly two years earlier that I had climbed Stove Mountain, where I also found a Mike Garrat register--although with many more entries.
Peering through the trees just before spotting the pole, I had glimpsed a point of very similar elevation to the north, and was prepared to go climb it, too, just to be sure, if I had not found the register. But I’ll take Mr. Garrat’s word for it, and, since I did not intend to take the side trip out to the Horns due to limited time, there was no actual need to proceed farther north. It had taken me just 54 minutes to reach the summit.
After about 15 minutes enjoying the view and the weather, and trying, unsuccessfully, to take pictures, I headed back down. Following my tracks as planned, I got back down in 46 minutes. Considering how easy this actually turned out to be, I couldn’t believe I let this high-prominence climb sit undone virtually in my back yard for 20 years! Oh, well; I’ll be back.