I was eyeing the long ridge of North Star Mountain this summer when I did Quandary. Then I saw it in Dave Cooper's Colorado Snow Climbs book and added it to my winter list.
Climbinfool (Matt) and I left Hoosier Pass under welcome blue skies with our snowshoes on our packs. Not far from the TH we came to a junction where you could go left, stright up a slope or right. I chose right...should have gone left. This is a more direct route, but once the packed trail disappeared we were postholing in deep snow, needless to say the snowshoes went on. Trying to avoid an avy area we circled the base of the ridge to a wind scoured section on the south side.
After a quick break we started some monotonous rock hopping to the first of many false summits. This was made a little harder by a strong breeze that had been blowing since we left the trees. I was hoping once we reached the ridge it wouldn't turn into a repeat of last weekend! I don't think I've ever been quite so happy to reach a false summit. Looking across the ridge from the first false summit:
The ridge started out fairly nice, no more than a walk across the snow, with a few ups and downs of course. Soon we began to lose sight of the true summit.
I think we experienced every snow condition possible on the ridge. One minute you were walking on hard wind blown snow, the next you were up to your waist in powder. I thought I was going to have to dig Matt out at one point! Crampons would have come in handy in a few sections, but of course they were in the car. There were a few short snow climbs along the way.
At this point I was getting hot and realized the wind had completely disappeared! This was extremely helpful, especially for the final push. A look at the last section of the ridge:
This last section seemed to take the longest. I swear the summit kept getting farther and farther away. Once we reached the top we stuck around for a while enjoying the great weather and the views. Too soon the wind started blowing again, so we grabbed a few pics and started retracing our steps.
The hike back was pretty much the same only in reverse. It turned out to be the perfect winter day in the mountains.