14,047 feet, 4,281 meter
Patrick wanted to climb Culebra in early August 2008. I suggested we add another peak while in the 'neighborhood" and Mount Lindsey was added to our trip. Once again I joined up with my regular partners Patrick and Robert for a weekend of 14er climbing. There were a few surprises along the way but it was a great weekend with some very nice class 4 rock climbing.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
The trailhead for Lindsey is very remote. Once you leave the county roads of southern Colorado it is over 22 miles on dirt roads albeit smooth given the huge ranches tucked away in the foothills. A well known obstacle is a huge puddle where we stopped along with several other vehicles to investigate before making the crossing. Patrick's Toyota did fine. This would not be the last water experience.
We finally arrived at the Lily Lake Trailhead after 9:00 PM and found a relatively flat area to pitch the tents. Around 1:00 AM the rain started it's show. With the alarms set for 4:30 we were relieved that it stopped right on cue. The 'oatmeal club' performed their morning ritual while I stumbled around with my breakfast bars and canned Starbucks shots. Headlamps on, we left the trailhead around 5:30. The trail was very flat for the first mile - a welcome relief from the usual 1,000' climb in the first half hour in the Sawatch.
about 30 minutes we reached the Huerfano River. It was still flowing
swiftly in mid summer. We split up to look for a decent way to cross
but found that the water was fast, deep and cold almost everywhere.
I spotted a large log that reached almost across a narrow section and
poked it with my trekking pole to test the foundation. Satisfied it
would hold me, I called out that I was going to cross there.
I quickly traded my wet shirt and pants for a t-shirt from Robert and my own rain pants. I put my warm fleece back on to stave off the emerging chill and had a seat to wring out my socks and drain my boots. Note to self: always bring extra socks. Patrick decided to cross on another log and escaped with only one foot drenched when it slipped off. Robert, showing his wisdom, took his boots off and waded across. I soon followed his lead. With a squish, squish we continued along the trail to climb our peak. Argg, what a way to start a day!
The trail become steep and we climbed over 3000 feet for the next 3 miles. The views were rewarding with the Blanca group unfolding before our eyes. Soon Lindsey and the Iron Nipple came into view. I really can't explain the origin of some of these mountain names!
We reached the saddle and took a break to enjoy the views. The ridge was out front just below the false summit and we had to make a decision as to climb the Class 2+ North Face or the slightly harder Class 3/4 Northwest Ridge. The ridge looked nice and we were ready for a challenge (as if my dunking was not enough for the day) so we started up a short steep section of the ridge toward the top. It was straightforward but I was very surprised by how loose the large rocks were - very similar to the Elks and Maroon Bells. We had to be very careful to test each hold as well as foot placement. Patrick and I made our way higher as Robert monitored from below. After several large rocks rolled his way, Robert made the decision to climb via the Face.
We continued higher and gained the ridge only find we had climbed too far up and had to down climb a short section to reach the crux. Click on the picture for more detail. This was fun. it was climbing as opposed to hiking and we were having a great time. Soon we made it to the top of the ridge thinking we were close to the summit. But we had only made it to the false summit and the connecting ridge was clearly ahead. This section was an easy walk.
Standing on the summit of LIndsey was very rewarding. Regardless of the route the climbing is fun, challenging at times and satisfying in all respects. The Sangre de Cristo are incredibly green even without as many wildflowers as we saw a couple of weeks earlier in the San Juan.
As we returned to the Lilly Lake trailhead there was one more surprise in store. Back to my favorite river, my boots had completely dried out as had my socks. My feet were pretty beat up after a day of climbing in wet socks so I took off my boots and socks to make the crossing. As I was going across, Patrick called out for me to toss my boots to him - he said he would catch them. I grabbed them by the shoelaces I had tied together and tossed them towards him .. and the overhanging tree branch ... but that is another story!