winter Sangres beta

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winter Sangres beta

by AlexeyD » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:07 am

Hey all,

I will be spending some time in New Mexico from the 27th to the 4th, and thought it might be cool to make it up into southern Colorado to attempt a not overly committal winter 14-er, for example Humboldt Peak in the Sangres. A couple of logistical questions in that regard:

1) Snow conditions: what is the snowpack like this year so far? How far can one expect to be able to drive towards the trailhead assuming a non-4x4 vehicle?
2) Gear rental options (related to (1)): Assuming snowshoes are necessary, are there any reasonable nearby options for renting? I have very little desire to pack mine in addition to all the stuff I'll be taking already.
3) Recommended routes: I've read most descriptions of winter ascents via the east ridge. Any useful advice on that/recent info? How about possible camping locations?

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!


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Westcliffe Willie

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Re: winter Sangres beta

by Westcliffe Willie » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:59 pm

I haven't personally been up the South Colony Road lately, but can venture an intelligent guess based on normal years at this time and the amount of snow in the valley. I live near Westcliffe.

You'll probably find about 2 to 3 feet of snow above 10,000.

You should be able to get to or near the two wheel drive parking lot at the cattle crossing. It's slightly more than 2 miles from there to the Rainbow Trail and another approximate 4.5 miles to the upper South Colony Lake where the normal route/trail climbs the backside (western side) of Humboldt. Going to be a long slog. I wouldnt make plans to hike up North Colony trail side. It becomes a bushwhack and has a ton of downed trees a couple miles above the Rainbow Trail.

If you plan on going up the east side, you can camp at the Rainbow Trail Jct with the South Colony Road. There are some flat spots there. There is water available crossing the Rainbow Trail just north of there a short distance. You can't miss it. It may be iced over, but it should be obvious where it is and with a few hits from something heavy you should be able to get to it.

You'll need to bring everything you plan on using excluding food unless you plan on renting something out of REI in Colorado Springs. I don't know of any place local that rents any type of hiking/camping gear. Colorado Springs REI is about 2 hrs and 15 mins north of Westcliffe.

No permits are required, so you can camp anywhere you want. Most people camp up near South Colony lake when they are going to climb any of the mountains in that area from the Westcliffe side. Keep in mind it does get windy, so weight your tent down if you leave it. I've had to personally save a couple of other unfortunate campers tents there because of the wind. There is a designated camping area not too far above the Rainbow trail that costs money (at least in the summer months) but I have no idea how that works in the winter. The road is not maintained in the winter. I havent been up there in the past couple of years. At least since they closed the road above the Rainbow Trail and built the campground. I really doubt if they monitor useage of it in the winter, but with so many other areas to camp and the distance up to South Colony Lake, there's no reason to stay there unless you just get plum tuckered out and don't want to go any further.

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