Stealing a Winter Centennial on Cronin Peak

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Trip Report
Colorado, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Feb 10, 2007
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Stealing a Winter Centennial on Cronin Peak
Created On: Feb 11, 2007
Last Edited On: Feb 11, 2007


Cronin Pk (13870')- CO Rank 75
Feb 10, 2007
via East Rib
11.5 miles RT, 4380' gain
Participants: Dave "Hoot" Gibson, Dave Hale, Kevin Baker, Scooby, and Shep

All Pics

The prospects of hitting another high peak were not looking good as the forecast for Sat looked marginal for the mountains. I wanted to hit some 13ers off Berthoud Pass, but being exposed to the wind all day was less than appealing. Hoot was looking to do a centennial, so we decided on Cronin since Cynthia Adams had a successful trip recently. We met in C. Springs and Hoot did the familiar drive down 24 to the Sawatch. The forecast for the day was 70% chance of light snow, with 40 mph winds and mid-20's. My philosophy is give it a shot unless a blizzard is forecasted.

The Approach

We set off down the long Baldwin Creek Rd at 7:34, which is also the standard approach for Antero. The morning started out partly sunny and 32! Hoot set a quick pace up the snowy road and I was having a hard time matching it. The road was well tracked since there haven't been any recent storms and we made good time to the 4WD trailhead as we could get by without snowshoes. Above this point we began to posthole, so we donned snowshoes.

The stretch to treeline at 12K' went quick and it looked like the weather was going to hold long enough for us to steal this one!

Cronin n.e. faceThe beautiful n.e. face of Cronin.

We were lucky to have such a well tracked highway to treeline. At treeline, we left the road and did an ascending traverse on mostly firm snow to a prominent rib just south of the impressive couloirs on Cronin's n.e. face.

East Rib on CroninOur route was the obvious scoured rib to the left of the couloirs.

We could see a trail about halfway up that traversed over to the east ridge. We ditched snowshoes at a bench just below the rib. The wind was beginning to pickup, but it was too our backs. It was turning into a bluebird day for Feb!

East Rib Assault & Descent

The rib initially wasn't too bad as we quickly gained altitude on scoured small talus that pretty much held in place. About halfway up we all got the bright idea to keep going all the way up the rib to the east ridge. It doesn't look too steep, right? We all suffered an optical illusion, because the rib steepened and got real loose, steep enough that Dave and Hoot warned me of any rocks they kicked loose. If Scooby and Shep could talk, they probably would have given us some choice words! Hoot kicked some nice steps for me to follow on the short patches of hard snow we climbed.

The angle finally relented and we gained the east ridge at 13500'. Well look how firm the snow is on the east ridge. That would have been quick snowshoe cruise! We crested a small false summit and soon reached the drifted true summit at 12:51pm. It was a quite pleasant 24 degrees on top with maybe 10-15mph winds, a rarity in Feb. The clouds began to drop somewhat, so our views were limited to the surrounding mountains.

We set off down the east ridge at 1:04. Descending the rib was out of the question as it would have been a loose mess. The snow got real hard as we descended, so we had to forcefully plunge step for quite a ways.

Cronin east ridgeDescending hard snow on the east ridge of Cronin.

I was glad I wore my stiffer La Sportiva boots today. We had a pow wow where the trail we spotted met the ridge. My knees didn't feel like scree surfing, so I decided to take the sidehilling trail onto firm snowfields for a glissade if it wasn't too steep. Dave and Hoot decided to stay on the ridge and go down scree. The snowfields weren't as steep as they looked from the ridge, so I had a nice controlled glissade down to the flats at 12600'.

Baldwin GulchBaldwin Gulch, our approach drainage.

Since Dave and Hoot would end up hitting the flats below their snowshoes, I retrieved them and met up with them at the base of the scree slope. I was glad I didn't come down that as I'm sure I would have been beat! Scooby and Shep must have wished they were the leaders on this day. The long slog back to the car was not as bad as I feared, but it dragged at the end as the view of the road below teased us. We punched through some as the snow had softened up during the day, but it wasn't too bad. We made it back to the car around 4:50, happy to steal a winter centennial. Onward to Kilimanjaro!


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Stealing a Winter Centennial on Cronin Peak

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