Mount Antero OverviewMount Antero attracts people for many different reasons. It is the 10th highest mountain in Colorado, and that alone makes it an important destination for many. It offers several climbing routes which are not terribly difficult. A wealth of fine gemstones have been mined from Antero's slopes, and this makes the mountain popular among rock hounds. Not coincidentally, there is a good, 4WD road on the peak's west side going nearly to the summit. This makes Antero a popular mountain for off-road enthusiasts, who keep the area "humming" in the summer. The San Isabel National Forest, of which this mountain is a part, affords countless recreational opportunities. For all these reasons, Mount Antero is a popular destination.
Antero is not the most stunning peak from the standpoint of scenery and beauty. It's difficult to find spectacular angles for photographs of this mountain. Below is one of my favorite Antero photos, taken from the west.
Climbing Mount Antero is not especially difficult, as thousands can testify. And as with most areas in the Rocky Mountains, this area affords great scenery, whether you are looking up at, or down from this lofty mountain. The following sections and photos will highlight these aspects of the mountain, and offer some guidance for climbing Mount Antero.
The peak is located in the Sawatch range between the towns of Buena Vista and Poncha Springs. It borders the Arkansas River valley on the west and is clearly visible from U.S. 285.
Chief AnteroMount Antero is the highest Colorado mountain named after a native American Indian. Neighboring mountains Tabeguache, Shavano, and Ouray, are also American Indian names. Antero was the leader of the Uintah band of Ute Indians. Chief Antero was a proponent of peace between the Utes and the white men during the uprising of the late 1860's and 1870's. He was one of the signers of the Washington Treaty of 1880, which led to the Utes losing most of their land.
Getting ThereThere are 3 main trailheads: Baldwin Gulch, Cascade Trailhead, and Browns Creek Trailhead.
Baldwin Gulch Trailhead: Turn west onto Chaffee County Road 162 from U.S. 285, 6 miles south of Johnson Village. If you are coming from the south, the turnoff is about 16 miles north of the U.S. 285/U.S. 50 intersection in Poncha Springs. Go west on the County Road 162 (paved) for 12 miles to the Baldwin Gulch Road.
Cascade Trailhead: Provides access to Antero's north side. Turn west on Chaffee County Road 162 from U.S. 285, 6 miles south of Johnson Village. If you are coming from the south, the turnoff is about 16 miles north of the U.S. 285/U.S. 50 intersection in Poncha Springs. Go west on the County Road 162 (paved) for 10 miles to Cascade Campground. The trailhead is at the campground.
Browns Creek Trailhead: Provides access to the south and east sides of Mt. Antero, as well as the north side of Tabeguache Peak. From U.S. 285, find the Chaffee County Road 270, nine miles south of Johnson Village. Follow Roads 270 and 272 3.5 miles west. Turn south there. Continue about 1.5 miles farther to the Browns Creek Trailhead.
Routes OverviewWest Slopes (standard route): Baldwin Gulch Trailhead. Follow four wheel drive road almost to the summit. Class 2 hike. Twelve miles round trip. 5000' elevation gain.
Little Browns Creek: Browns Creek Trailhead. Recommended for solitude. Follows north side of Little Browns Creek. Class 2. Fourteen miles round trip. 5350' elevation gain.
South Slopes, Browns Lake: Potential backpacking trip, with overnight at Browns Lake. Follows roads and trails. Class 2. Twenty-two miles round trip. 5400' elevation gain.
North Ridge: Cascade Trailhead. Moderate snow climb, seasonal. Ascends large avalanche chute. Gully is unpleasant scree when snow-free. Class 2. Seven miles round trip. 5300' elevation gain.
North Face Direct: Technical climb, starting near the Cascade campground trailhead.
Camping / Red TapeMount Antero is situated in the San Isabel National Forest, where there are countless recreation opportunities, and dozens of campgrounds.. Visit the official Forest Service web site here. There are at least four campgrounds along Chaffee County Road 162 within three miles of either Baldwin Gulch or Cascade Trailhead. Three of these (Cascade Campground, Chalk Creek Campground, and Mount Princeton Campground) accept advance reservations. Visit ReserveUSA.com, or call toll free, 1-877-444-6777 to make reservations.
Camping in undeveloped areas is also permitted in many cases and with certain restrictions.
All visitors and users of the National Forests are subject to Federal Regulations. The forest service publishes many rules and guidelines, addressing camping, vehicles, camp fires, pets, and other issues. You must pay a fee to use certain developed sites and facilities. Such areas are clearly signed or posted as requiring a fee.
Mountain Conditions / When to Climb
Current, local conditions are maintained by the Forest Service at their newly updated web site. Besides the current weather, they publish campground status, road conditions, trail status, and closures. You may also call the Forest Service office at 719-553-1400.
The summer months provide the best time to climb Mt. Antero. You are by no means assured of safe conditions on any day of the year, of course. As always, use good judgment, and Check the Weather Forecast before you go.
NOAA Point Forecast for Mount Antero.
Summit Shots and Views From AnteroMount Antero provides great views of the Sawatch range. At the summit, a 360 degree panorama.
In 1881, a Salida man by the name of Nelson Wanemaker discovered gems high on Mount Antero. His discovery was publicized a few years later, and Mount Antero became a famous collecting area for aquamarine, phenacite, fluorite, topaz, and smoky quartz crystals. It boasts the highest concentration of minerals anywhere in the nation.
[img:49665:alignright:small:Antero Aquamarine Crystal]
There are mining claims in the area, and feuds over disputed claims. Amateur diggers still occasionally report finding a good quality crystal here, but don't count on it. With findings far above timberline, this is the highest known gem locality in the United States. Buena Vista Gem Works provides lots of interesting information for collecting aquamarine.
I'll bet you didn't know that Mount Antero Treasures sells skin care products made from Mount Antero aquamarine gem clay & minerals. So visit Mount Antero, to keep your skin looking younger! Ha!
Mount Antero RoadA 4-wheel drive runs from the Baldwin Gulch Trailhead to within a few hundred vertical feet of this mountain's summit, for a total distance of about 9 miles. It was built in the early 1950's by a company that hoped to mine beryl. The beryl mining proved to be uneconomical, but the road they left behind is pretty good. Depending on your perspective, you might consider it a great convenience for rockhounds and peakbaggers, or a blight on an otherwise attractive mountain.
The road is ranked "Moderate" by The Colorado Association of 4WD Clubs. This organization is seeking people to "adopt" this road.
External LinksWikipedia article
Skiing Mount Antero
Mount Antero on 14ers.com
Mount Antero on sangres.com
Trip Report by Theron Welch