The best-laid plans of mice and men...
Now that the higher peaks had been covered for a few days, I decided the time was ripe for a snow climb. My intention was to reach Lake Patricia and from there choose either the Teardrop or Holy Cross couloir to summit.
With numerous sources reporting this to be a long-ish hike, I decided to give it 8 hours. I left Broomfield at 4 am, but delays on I-70 set me back an hour. After a suspension-devouring tour of the Tigiwon road, I reached Half Moon trailhead at 7:15 am.
I made good time and reached Beaver Pond shortly after 9. Then my route-finding abilities came into question (as if they ever weren't). After wandering around for awhile and wasting a good deal of energy, I believed I had located the correct path to Lake Patricia.
My next view of the mountain was bittersweet. Although I had clearly missed the lake, I was near enough the base of Angelica Couloir to warrant a try.
Too soon for a snow climb?
At 10:30 I started towards the couloir. The initial rock-hopping was fun, but the further I went the deeper the snow grew.
At 11 am I began slogging through waist-deep snow, which had not consolidated enough to provide any leverage in itself. At times I sunk so far I had to thrash around to make room for the next step.
Eventually I would just aim for the next visible rock in hopes the snow would be shallower there. Crampons and kick-stepping were of little use. Despite gaiters my waterproof boots filled with water.
Turning around was out of the question as it seemed I was closer to the top of the couloir than the valley below. Running out of water and daylight, I sought an intersection with the standard route on the ridge above.
Thus I deviated from Angelica Couloir, gaining the ridge near a wide cornice at 3 pm, 650 ft below the summit.
Incredible views and great weather, anyway
Relatively great. It was very cold and windy, but not too cloudy. Views from the ridge were jaw-dropping.
@#$% water on the lens
I started back posthaste and made the trailhead at 6:45 pm.
It was a long, painful day mostly because of bad route-finding and poor snow. A hike up the standard route would have been fantastic.
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