Add Heading Here
From Baldwin Gulch
Sunday June 25, 2006
I awoke to cloudy skies and promptly went to the NOAA website to check-out the day’s weather for Buena Vista. It showed only a 20% chance of afternoon T-storms with mostly sunny skies, I wasted little time and was on the road by 3:35AM.
Along the way and all across South Park the weather remained quite cloudy and the normal view of peaks all-around was pretty well shrouded-out by the cloud cover. However, as I made the final approach on route 285 heading into Johnson’s Village the clouds directly ahead had broken just enough and the Collegiate Range peaks all shown brightly in morning sunshine. I turned right on RD 162 heading towards St Elmo and reached the Baldwin Gulch Rd at 6:25.
I dropped into 4-wheel hi and drove up the rocky road, many people were camping along the road in primitive campsites, but I guess it was still a little early as I only saw about 4 people heading up the road on foot. I continued on and forded two creeks as I made my way nearly 4 miles before I stopped just below tree line, backed into an open spot off the road and choked all four tires.
I made ready my pack, applied plenty of sun lotion and was on the road heading up at 7:03. The road is a very easy ascent and switches back and forth several times as it climbs rapidly up the western side of Mt Antero. The view to the west was spectacular as the rising morning sun totally illuminated the peaks in a reddish-golden hue although I was still in the shadows which made it coolly comfortable. The contrasts of the green gulch and small lakes below and the bright peaks above was a sight to truly behold ……………........really beautiful.
Right from the start and as I climbed higher the wildflowers were along side the road everywhere…………yellow, white, blue, purple, pink, and red painted a pretty picture, and the photos I took simply could not do them justice as they made an otherwise gray road-trail into an absolutely gorgeous passage.
I was now getting to where the road heads around the south side of the mountain and heads north-easterly as it continues to climb up out of the shadows and bright sunshine. Here I met a young couple also heading up and conversed with them briefly and confirmed that you climb the road right to the very end and it will take you to the summit………what could be easier? Another few short switchbacks and the summit lie directly ahead under blue skies. I reached the high point of the road and cleared over one last rise and before me was the rocky summit ridge.
The trail dips for a short distance just before reaching the actual ridge where to the left is a very exposed drop-off while the trail goes slightly to the right of the ridge and becomes a little undefined. I just kept a little to the right of the ridge and continued to climb and after a little bit of scrambling on slightly loose talus near the top I was on the empty summit at 8:56
The views were awesome with many discernable 14’ers in the surrounding peaks; Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard to the immediate north with Tabeguache and Shavano due south. To the east was a carpet of clouds at about 12000’ as far as I could see with nearby peaks poking through here and there, pretty cool sight. To the west the skies were mostly clear and snow capped peaks as far as I could see. I enjoyed the sights, took several photos, had a bite to eat & drink and started back down after about 25 minutes, I had the place all to myself for as long as I stayed. Looking back down on the road below I could see many people heading up.
I again passed the young couple going down as they were now coming across the summit ridge, and I saw many more people on the road along with lots of ATVs also going up as I headed down. I took my time and took many more photos as I paused many times and peeled down to shorts and short sleeves for the last couple of miles as the sun was getting much warmer now. I was soon back to my truck at 10:56 and started back down the road as clouds were now starting to build from the west.
This was my second attempt at this peak as my friend Kevin and I were turned away earlier in April because there wasn’t enough snow on the north gully to do a snow ascent and the Baldwin Gulch road was choked with snow, ice, and a downed tree near the bottom, making the trip a bust………….anyway…………..my 23rd 14’er and another beautiful Colorado morning, sweet!!!
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