- Date: July 14, 2018
- Partner: none
- Height: 14,421 feet
- Range: Sawatch
- Route: Southwest Slopes (Class 2)
- Overall Distance: 8.0 miles
- Elevation Gain: 3,950 feet (TH to summit)
- 14ers climbed: 20
- 14ers remaining: 33
- Road Condition to Trailhead: I had read up on the road conditions prior to coming over here and felt they were a bit overstated. Any good SUV (and certainly a 4WD) can make it to the trailhead. The last mile has a few dicey spots but nothing major. If you come during the weekend, you might not find a parking spot.
Wow. All I can say was that this route was beautiful. The spring wildflowers are out in all their splendor right now. Anywhere you look along the trail there are amazing views.
I woke up late and almost decided not to go. However, the weather report looked clear and dry all day so I went for it. It was 9:00 am at least before I arrived at the trailhead. The first mile was an easy stroll through a forest before it broke out into a clearing where I could see the Southwest Slope in the distance. Once I crossed the clearing and made a turn to the right, then things became much more serious. The trail began to climb rapidly through a boulder field. Fortunately, most of this was stable rock.
To me, I felt the most difficult part of this hike was between 11,500′-to-13,500′. After the boulder field, one bumps and grinds through a broad expanse of grass going up, up, and up. Eventually, the goal is to gain a ridgeline. Once on top of the ridge, things flatten out a bit. I was wearing my Hoka trail running shoes and developed hotspots on my heels, so I had to make a pitstop to slap some Leukotape on top of them. Problem solved!
Eventually, the trail reached the summit ridge and hung a hard left to head north. Here is where the East Slopes trail intersected mine and I saw other climbers coming up. There was a large false summit I had to work around before I finally saw the actual summit about a 0.25 mile away. I had to hop from boulder to boulder in a few places, but it was smooth sailing to the top. The views from the summit are an A+; you can see Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake clear as a bell.
All told, I really liked this hike, if for no other reason than the stunning landscapes. I would give it around a 4 in terms of 14er difficulty. Are there any negatives? This mountain is the 2nd highest peak in Colorado at 14,421′. If you don’t handle altitude well, then be forewarned. Also, what with a mostly high alpine environment, I would imagine it would be a frightening experience to be up here in an afternoon lightning storm — keep your eye on the sky. This was a bluebird day, so I saw hikers and climbers all along the way. This is not a place to go for summer weekend solitude. That being said, I had the pleasure of meeting a nice, young couple from the Denver area, Ty and Sam, and we walked out together the last ~ 30 minutes 🙂