Friday, November 30, 2012

Late November climb of Huron Peak.

Huron Peak is a shy but shapely peak in Sawatch Range of Colorado.  It barely peeks above 14,000 ft and isn't particularly difficult but it is one of my favorite 14ers.  On Saturday November 24, I met some friends at the edge of Denver at 4:30AM and carpooled up I-70 toward Leadville.  After a finishing stretch on a dirt road to the ghost town of Winfield, we started our climb of Huron Peak near the standard trail head but instead to an old logging or mining road to north of the standard route.  Our path is shown below:
It was fun to try an non-standard route, particularly in winter.  The popularity of climbing 14ers in Colorado has made solitude a bit hard to find, so often times a non-standard route is you best bet.  We ascended the road and wrapped around a north facing ridge line into a basin north of Brown's Peak.  While there is still not a lot of snow in the mountains right now because of the warm, dry fall, we did encounter some deeper snow in this area.  On the west side of the basin, we saw a shallow snow filled couloir leading to a ridge the looked like it would take us where we wanted to go.

 Once we reached the ridge, it was a fairly simple hike to the higher intersection ridge line leading to Browns Peak.  We were initial concerned about the jagged appearance of the ridge but it turn out the these jagged features we actually slightly below the actual ridge top.

 Upon reaching the ridge, Huron Peak finally can into view.  we contoured along the ridge and across the west face of Brown's Peak, crossing the upper end of the bowl leading to Huron Peak.  We were now at 13,500 ft. and have little more than a quarter mile to go to reach the summit.

 The trail was steep and covered in packed snow but was pretty easy with microspikes on.  The trail zig-zag its way across the north face until it emerged on the fairly small, pointed summit.

 The weather on the top was glorious and the views amazing.  You could see all the giants of the Sawatch neatly lined up to the east and the rugged Ice Mountain and Apostles to the south. After resting and refueling at the top, we finally began our uneventful descent of the standard route to conclude a spectacular day in the mountains.

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