Route StatsMountains: Humboldt Peak (14,064’)
Route: Started at ~8800' on South Colony Lakes Rd., left the road at ~10,400’ and headed up Southerly slopes up to the East Ridge and on to the summit.
Elevation Gain - 5400’ (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage ~ 13 miles
Saturday’s forecast served to blow the mind once again and I didn’t think too long before taking up the Jamies’ offer of bounty down in the Sangres. If I may rewind to my trip report on Massive (02/10/08)… I’d stated "Clear days have been hard to come by this winter"
. If I may sponsor a trademark foolhardy statement that could potentially earn wintry wrath and some Coloradoans’ hatred… "Zeus has lost his freaking teeth this winter". Princo mentioned that a bunch of 14erworld folks had headed up the previous Sunday and broken trail up the Southern slopes to the East Ridge. My quick mind made several (three) calculations at lightning speed… (1) Fantastic weather… (2) No trail breaking to contend with… (3) What more could a lazy ass in search of fake winter summits ask for? I drove down to the Jamies’ place in Golden and shamelessly mooched a ride as has been my wont to do in recent times. We reached the lower trailhead where we would await Mike. In the interim we erected an awe-inspiring 6 (perhaps 8) person 3-season tent amidst winds that foretold the fall of humanity. I swear our bodies lying in it were all that kept it from packing up and leaving for Oz. We hit the hay after Mike’s arrival with a plan to wake up at 4:30AM.
On the Trail
We arose to terrible news that Nellis was sick and had to pull out. After making sure she was comfortable, Princo and I headed out at around 6:15AM. Mike would give us a 20 minute head start and then whoop us up the mountain. Whilst Mike played catch up Princo and I captured gems such as this…
Sunrise on South Colony Lakes Road
It was mildly amusing how Princo and I would look over our shoulders every five minutes on our westbound proceedings to find and preserve this very moment.
Sunrise on South Colony Lakes Road - 2
It was easy going up the snow-mobile tracks. Princo booted it and I used snowshoes just in case. About an hour into the hike we arrived at the Rainbow Trail junction…
Mike caught up to us an hour or so later and we took a 30 minute break. The jetboil came out and victuals in the form of Roast Beef flavored Ramen (and all associated broth) were prepared and cannibalized with reckless abandon. Shortly before 9AM we reached the turn off from the road leading up into the forest towards the base of the South slopes.
Leaving South Colony Lakes Road
The track from the group the previous week was still nice and compact. Trail-breaking was not an issue during this trip.
A view of the Crestones from our location in the forest…
Whilst Above Trees and Green Things
At around 10AM we reached timber line and stashed our snowshoes away in the midst of that last clump of trees struggling for air, and proceeded up the talus. Here’s a shot of the valley we came up from …
The valley we came up from...
and at Marble Mtn. across the valley…
and our objective not too far away… dry as a bone. Some snow clung for dear life to the shallow SE couloir. Its cries of anguish were so piteous that Princo condescended to reward it with a glissade down on the return with Mike’s axe (we had one axe between the three of us… wretched souls that we were, we’d neglected to carry this one simple constant Winter hiking companion).
Our Objective for the Day
Here is an example of the staggering difficulties that adorn Humboldt’s treacherous South slopes… reminiscent of Stephanie's and my furious battle with Old Baldy not too many winters (well, half) ago.
Humboldt Talus Slopes
We took a short hydration break at 11:15AM. From this spot Mike and Princo booted straight up the slope while I decided to traverse the talus to a low point on the East Ridge.
Ascend or Traverse?
Summit and Descent:
We re-united at the low point on the ridge and continued on to Summit at 1PM. The Crestones bask in the sunlight…
Kit-Kat-Kitty Kat and all that jazz…
The treacherous highly exposed summit...
On the summit we signed the register and I cooked more Ramen… we all highly prefer Roast beef tastemaker to Lemon shrimp. Jetboil ROCKS (insert shameless appeal for reward for my endorsement). We lounged about for another 30 minutes before beginning our descent. Mike and I went down the ridge while Jamie scurried off in search of the top of the SE couloir. Here’s a picture of this self-same couloir.
Humboldt SE Couloir
After a mind-numbing descent down the talus we plunge stepped down the forest and hobbled up and down the South Colony Lakes road back to our vehicles hoping for Nellis’ miraculous recovery. We got back down at 4:45PM, packed that big freak of a tent and sang terrific tunes of Humboldtation on our way back to Golden. Mike and Princo, it was good to hike with you guys again.