Intro/StatsNorth Star Mtn (13614')- CO Rank 187
8.2 miles RT, 2640' gain
from Hoosier Pass (11542') via east ridge
November 18, 2006
Participants: Lisa Heckel, Stewart Kline, Calvin Eisenach, Doug Hatfield, and Kevin Baker
North Star has been on my list as a cool peak to hike in winter conditions as this Ten Mile Range bi-centennial offers a long, safe ridge run surrounded by 14ers Quandary and Lincoln along with a slew of high 13ers. I saw that the CMC had a trip in the schedule, so I decided to sign up. The forecast looked good at the beginning of the week, but it got worse as the week progressed calling for falling temps and gusts to 35mph. I usually don't let iffy forecasts stand in the way as long as I'm not hiking alone, so I met the group as planned.
The weather was looking good on the way to Hoosier Pass, and we were pleasantly surprised to find relatively calm winds and a 25 degree temp upon arrival. It looked like it may turn out to be a bluebird day! We set out at 8:05am along Forest Rd 2, which was well tracked from skiers and snowshoers. We started out with snowshoes but could have got by without them as the road was blown clear of snow in spots once we cleared treeline.
14er Lincoln from the s.e. slopes of North Star.
Our group was strong, and we made good time up the gently graded road, leaving it as it entered private property just west of Pt 12214'. From here, we snowshoed up steeper slopes until around 12600' where most of the talus was blown free of snow. We cached our snowshoes here and headed up to the fun east ridge. Once gaining the ridge, we put on our wind gear as it was in our faces but I don't think there were any gusts worse than 20mph on this fine day.
The east ridge is a long, undulating ridge with many ups and downs. It is about 1.25 miles from the point where it narrows at around 13400'. The ridge surprisingly held quite a bit of snow, although no cornices had developed yet.
Our group making their way up the fun class 2 east ridge of North Star.
The views along this ridge are staggering with Lincoln, Bross, and Democrat to the south and the Ten Mile range group of centennials to the north along with Quandary.
14er Quandary and the Cristo Couloir from North Star's east ridge.
As we gained altitude, Doug's words per minute count decreased. I like to give him a hard time with that. The ridge is quite deceptive with its many ups and downs. It narrows to a few feet wide in a couple spots, but it's all class 2 terrain. Doug led the way for the final stretch and we topped out at 11:18, blessed with spectacular views in the heart of the Ten Mile range. The temp on the summit was a balmy 22, but it only took 20 minutes or so to feel the chill.
The last half mile to the summit of North Star.
After photos and some lunch, we headed down around 11:45. The minor ups and downs were enjoyable, and we took our time admiring the scenery. Here's a short video about halfway across the ridge:
Views along ridge
Since I had cached my trekking poles on the first false summit, I had to retrace my steps to retrieve them while the rest of the group skirted it below. We got in a short glissade down to the Pt 12214 saddle, at which point Doug and I decided to hike up to unranked 12214 to seek out a more exciting glissade opportunity off its south slopes. This nice ride gave me a chance to practice self arrest on the soft snow, which I hadn't done in awhile. On the way down the road, we ran across a few snowshoers and skiers enjoying the day. We arrived back at the pass around 2:50. There's not too many days in November as nice as this in the Colorado mountains!