TH: Spruce Creek Rd 2WD parking
Route: Pacific's North Ridge
Distance/elevation: 10.5 miles, ~4,500 FT
Well after doing Drift Saturday, and Crystal Sunday, I figured I might as well go back to the Ten Mile range and climb Pacific. I got up at 4am in Denver and dragged myself up to the trailhead for a 7am start.
I choose an interesting route, starting out by heading up the Crystal Lakes 4WD road to lower Crystal lake. The sky was a clear blue, and it was not very cold. This would soon change. As I fumbled with my digicam to take a picture of Father Dyer peak in the morning light, a whole mass of clouds rushed over the valley. This would turn out to be somewhat of an omen.
I decided to take on the steep gully that leads to Upper Crystal lake rather then use the switchbacking jeep trail. After having to backtrack a couple times, I found a route straight up the heart of the gully that I could manage with only a couple short Class 3 moves.
I arrived at Upper Crystal Lake underneath the watch of Father Dyer and Crystal Peak. Fluffy white clouds rushed across the sky and the wind picked up.
I headed to the west end of the bowl that is formed by the masses of Father Dyer and Crystal Peak and climbed directly up to the saddle over large shifty talus. From here the mighty impressive north face of Pacific came into view.
Given the weather was a bit dicey I contemplated my future and decided to go for it. I descended down to the ridgeline that runs to the Crystal/Pacific saddle and already feeling rather tired reached the start of the real climb.
Pacific's north ridge is pretty intimidating when your legs already feel far less then 100%. Determined I started climbing the ridge and found the going alright until the slope turned to a 40-45 D angle as it rushed up to meet Pacific's lower summit.
The weather started closing in, looking menacing, wind blowing rather hard, and low lying clouds threatening to swallow the summit before I reached it. Luckily the weather skirted Pacific and I reached the lower summit after a tough climb up the North Ridge.
From here the downclimb into the notch proved very easy, and the gully that leads to the true summit proved simple as well.
I was on the summit for all of ten minutes before the weather really starting pushing my way and I started to descend the same route. After reaching the saddle, a wall of gray descended on Crystal and Pacific and it became quite cold. I headed back up the ridge to Crystal, cut across, and then descended down into the valley that holds Mohawk lakes. The sun came out a bit and it was warmer, although the clouds still menaced the higher peaks. Good thing I got an early start. From there it was a straight forward (but very tired) march back to my car via the Mohawk Lakes trail, and then the Spruce Creek 4WD road.
7 hours after I started I was in my car and ready for some serious grub.
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