Why would I post a trip report for a 7200 ft. mountain? Because I did it the hard way, that's why! Instead of taking the nice trail which ascends the mountain's north and west sides, I free climbed the rocky east face--that imposing side you can see from Cheyenne Boulevard as you approach North Cheyenne Cañon Park.
Near the pavillion picnic area just west of the Starsmore house, a trail climbs to the top of the ridge between North and South Cheyenne Cañons. Turning west, it crosses a large, nearly flat open area before coming to where the real climb begins. From there, one winds steeply through a mix of scrub oak and rock, finally reaching a nearly level, gravelly section of the ridge behind the first major outcropping of rock. That's the last level place to stand for quite a ways, and the last of a visible trail until near the top.
From there, I just made my best guess about the route, trying to stay generally to the right (north), near the ridge line where the eastern rock face merges with the more rounded north face of Cutler. I had to stay in the rocks, though, because that north face is riven by a huge gully of rock even steeper than what I was on. So I continued up through chimneys and rock faces of varying difficulty for several hundred feet. I'm no good at estimating class difficulty numbers, but my amateur guess is that most of this would qualify as Class 4.
The hardest part was near the top of the rocks, where a steep section of fairly smooth rock, which afforded little in the way of hand or foot holds was followed by an also short (10-15 ft.) but very steep chute which was hard to exit, thanks to few handholds right at the top. I couldn't even consider trying to take a picture; I needed all four limbs keeping me in place!
After that, however, I found myself back on the ridge crest, above the rocks, with only scree to negotiate to the top. It was still steep enough in places that I ended up using my hands some, but it was much easier that what was just below it. About 44 minutes after starting up, I reached the rock outcropping which crowns the east face. It isn't the true summit of Mt. Cutler, but it's what you see from down below, and affords much better views.
After enjoying those views briefly, I ran back down the trail (where I saw not a single other person, despite the beautiful weather), down the short section of the canyon road necessary to get to the Columbine Trail, and on down to home. I'll save trying to downclimb the east face for another day, after I have done it going up several more times.
No comments posted yet.