Thursday, May 29, 2008

MMMMountains (Spearhead TR)

Wed 5-28

I managed to convince April that doing one long climb up in the mountains before I dropped her off was a good idea. I have been looking at doing something at Rocky Mountan National Park for a while and managed to find something on a peak called Spearhead in Glacier Gorge. 6 mile hike in with 3000 feet of elevation gain to 10 pitches of 5.6 in an alpine setting seemed pretty nice.

Got into RMNP late enough that i didnt get to use my America the Beatiful pass, too bad because the 30 bucks to get in pays for nearly half the pass. I am sure it will get alot of use in the coming months. Did the whole alpine start thing and managed to be up, eat a hot breakfast, make some tea, and be at the trailhead hiking by 6.

This is a truly beautiful hike, especially since we had arrived in the dark the nite before and the clouds were rather low as we started, as they slowly lifted the scenery just got better and better. You pass a bunch of waterfalls, "little" cliffs on the way to Mills Lake which is the start of Glacier Gorge. From here its another 3 miles to the base of spearhead.

An hour and a half late and only a half mile further along it was time to reconsider our options. Treading through waist deep snow for another 2.5 miles was not going to happen. Even if we had snowshoes the route wasnt ready yet. Still snow enroute and there appeared to be a ton of snow on the descent. I dont know about you, but descending from 12500 with a 1500 drop below you is less than desirable if there is snow and ice everywhere.

Looking around the cirque clockwise from left there are 5 towers then Longs Peak (way up higher) then Pagoda (with Cheifs head and spearhead below) then Thatchtop. Looked as if we could scramble up just to the right of the leftmost tower and get on that ridge and follow it back down towards the trail.

Well everything is harder than it looks, but we made it to the top of half mtn, after much snow wading rock hopping and 4th classing. Fun

The ridge down looked rather simple on the topo (thanks GPS) which it was for the first 800 feet of elevation of so. The last half cliffed off in both directions except for the guly we managed to get into. This was fine for a while but the last 500 feet or so I have named the Screefield of Hating. For those who arent familar with the loveliness that is scree, imagine a 500 foot tall pyramid made of marbles with you on top, and now imagine trying to get down. The trick here is to leave the majority of marbles where they orginally where.

From the bottom of this there was much collapsing with exhaustion, then a breif scare when we found some rather fresh mountain lion tracks, then scurrying, then relief when we got back on trail 15 minutes later.

Then just the slog back to the car to finish off an awesome day.

I think the whole off trail loop was only 2 miles, but it took us nearly 6 hours. Makes me think about how powerful these mountain environments really are.

Fun times though.

I think I may let April edit this post later with her comments interspersed. May make for a more humorous slant to things. Also once i finish uploading the photos for this trip ill add those and also try and do my first mashup with the GPS data as well as the photos geo-something-or-othered.

Goodness I like the mountains.


Unknown said...

I put the odds at 50-50 that Screefield of Hating is already a track by some obscure Swedish death metal band.

Dominic said...

Does that mean i cant copyright the name for this place? Though it would be a sweet set for some episode of Metalocolypse

Unknown said...

Hell yeah. Although they'd probably destroy it by the end of the episode.