Saturday, June 14, 2008
1) Mount Evans (14,264’) – CO Rank 14
2) Mount Warren (13,307') - CO Rank 389
3) Rogers Peak (13,391') - CO Rank 325
4) Mount Goliath (12,216') - unranked
Jim, Karen, & Kevin
Six years ago I had my first shot to summit Mt Evans with some friends from work. I can't remember exactly why I couldn't make that trip but I missed out. They ended up making a successful trip up Mt Bierstadt, across the Sawtooth, and over to the summit of Mt Evans when weather started to move in. Fortunately for them, grace came in the form of a kind-hearted couple from Parker, CO in a Dodge Durango, who offered to drive them all the way back down Mt Evans road and back to their car at Guanella Pass. The story was so touching that I instantly went out and married that couple's niece! Well, okay, so that happened 4 years later, but imagine the surprise as my future wife Karen is telling her aunt and uncle about this guy (me) she met who works for a lock company in Colorado Springs and started hiking 14ers with friends from work back in 2002, who hitched a ride down Mt Evans. Talk about a small world!
Evans eluded me last year as well in September as ice on the rocks leading to the Sawtooth turned my friend Sean and I around on the summit of Bierstadt. Kevin and I aborted my third shot at Mt Evans on New Years Day due to a forecast of high winds.
Can the fourth time be a charm too?
Our original plan for this trip was to take the route over Bierstadt and the Sawtooth onto Evans' west ridge. I was a little concerned about finding ice on the Sawtooth and once I developed a head cold on Thursday I decided to put the kabash on that plan...just in case something were to go wrong.
Instead, we made plans to start from Echo Lake. I caught some much needed extra z's in the car on the way and took something to ease the pressure building in my sinuses. We set off from the Echo Lake parking area at 6:00am following Kevin's plotted shortcut to avoid the first 4 miles of the Mt Evans road. The bushwack was mostly through sparse trees and across the occasional snow patch with minimal post-holing. We reached our target on the road just below the 4-mile mark at 11,800' at 7:00am and were quickly greeted by a couple of the locals.
Some of the locals
The next 4.5 uneventful miles went by quickly as we sped along the road to Summit Lake. There were times I felt somewhat ashamed to be hiking on a paved road, but there will be plenty of more adventurous trips coming up this summer. The wind picked up a bit as we rounded the last corner before Summit Lake and took in the spectacular views of Evans' north face!
Spectacular views of Mt Evans' north face
We arrived at the lake at 8:45am and took a short food break before heading to the summit. The mild wind was just what Kevin needed to keep the snow on the north face cold and firm, as he was planning a fun ascent of the Crystal Couloir. I was still feeling pretty congested so Karen and I continued on to the gentler northeast slopes. We left the road a little earlier than the mapped route and found a short snow slope to take advantage of.
Karen heading up a short snowfield on the northeast slopes
The last 1000' were pretty taxing for me as my cold was making it hard for me to catch my breath. Fortunately the weather was spectacular and there was no need to hurry. We reached the highest paved parking lot in the US and finished off the short jaunt to the summit by 10:30am. My 46th 14er summit, finally finishing off the Front Range! Thanks for making a return trip for me Karen!
Kevin had linked up with a couple of other climbers just below the summit on his trip up Crystal and was waiting his turn to ascend a 30-ft chimney of 4th class rock...glad it wasn't me! The chimney looked pretty treacherous from our vantage point on the summit and, after avoiding some rockfall from the climber above, Kevin made the wise choice of moving around to a more mild class 2 finish to the right. The views up top were terrific as they usually are in spring. It's amazing how much snow is still out there for the middle of June!
Awesome views west from the summit revealed a lot of snow left in the highcountry
We enjoyed the summit for about an hour before heading down to check out the open air summit shelter next to the parking lot while Kevin headed over to West Evans and eventually down the north face. Karen and I descended the northeast slopes and reached Summit Lake at 12:42pm.
Still not feeling great, I opted for the road walk again down to the Mt Goliath pull-out while Karen and Kevin would head for 13ers Warren and Rogers.
Karen on the second of her four summits on the day: Mt Warren
As road bikers and cars whizzed by me on the road I was wishing I had gone for the 13ers as well. However, a nice 1-hr long siesta at the Mt. Goliath pullout was a nice trade-off. But not enough to motivate me to go for unranked Mt Goliath's summit. Karen and Kevin finished off their 4th summit of the day while I waited below the road, prepping for the bushwack back to Echo Lake. We made quick work of the remaining mile back to the lake, finishing off the day at 4:45pm. Another fun and successfull day!
Back at popular Echo Lake