Oct 19, 2008
My co-worker Jeff and I left downtown Colorado Springs shortly after 5 AM, arriving at the Clear Creek Trailhead around 8 AM. This trailhead is at the end of the four-wheel-drive road south of the abandoned town of Winfield.
According to my GPS, climb times were as follows:
|8:06 AM||Depart from Trailhead|
|11:17 AM||Arrive on Summit|
|12:00 PM||Depart from Summit|
|2:03 PM||Arrive at Trailhead|
The weather was great for mid-October. Although it was fairly windy at times high on the mountain, our time on the summit was fairly calm. I believe the temperature was around 30 degrees on top of the mountain near the noon hour.
There were several people, including a couple of dogs, taking advantage of the mild October weather to hike to the top of Huron Peak on this very pleasant day.
Jun 3, 2007
I left Colorado Springs on Saturday afternoon, June 2, about 4:30 PM or so for Huron Peak. I unknowingly took the wrong fork on the 4WD road, which became very rough, with some tight switchbacks. I followed the road until a huge snow drift (more of a mini snowfield) blocked all but a few feet of the road width. I backed up a bit into a pullout and spent the night in the uncovered pickup bed at about 11,300 feet. Stars were out all night.
About 9:40 PM, I saw a headlamp bobbing up the road. Two guys, Travis and Ron, said they were planning to ascend the mountain via moonlight and headlamps. About 11 PM, they came back down the road, saying the road ended in a trail and didn't fit the route description they (and I) had read. My GPS also indicated the location was wrong. I dozed for a few hours, waking for the final time about 3 AM. I finally climbed out of my sleeping bag and did all the pre-climb stuff. Before 4:30 AM, I was heading up the road/trail, planning to figure out my route as I went.
I was the only one following this route up the mountain. Lots of talus and no defined trail shortly after I left the truck was the norm.
Eventually, though, The Three Apostles came into view. Shortly after that I saw Huron Peak for the first time, along with long snowfields leading toward Huron's summit. I soon broke out my crampons and ice ax. The crampons really helped more near the top, which was somewhat steeper than the lower sections. It was pretty awesome going straight up the snowfield instead of having to navigate the talus.
As I reached the ridge just below the summit pitch, I saw one, then two, climbers coming up the standard route. One turned out to be Travis, one of the guys that passed by my truck in the night. He had gone back down to the main 2WD trailhead the night before, discovering where we had taken the wrong turn on the 4WD road. We had actually followed the left branch of the road as it climbed into Lulu Gulch. This is the correct route if you want to bag Browns Peak, but it is not the standard route for Huron Peak. The next morning, Travis followed the standard route to the summit of Huron.
I was the first person to summit, followed soon by Travis, then a solo third hiker whose name I forget. Ron had opted to stay in camp, so Travis had hiked solo to the summit, as well. We spent some time on the summit sharing our experiences on this and other mountains. We enjoyed the views and snapped a few photos, spending about 45 minutes on top.
The trip down was interesting, since I was able to glissade down the snowfields on my butt. On the upper section I was able to get going pretty fast, using my ice ax to keep my speed under control. There were no dangerous cliff bands below, so it was very fun and safe.
I got down the mountain about 1:30 PM or so. Clouds gathered occasionally as I descended and a few ice pellets hit, but not enough to even show on the ground.
Even though the hike was fairly short, I didn't make good time. I felt pretty slow navigating the talus on the way up the mountain. The snow climb of the snowfields was a lot of fun, though, since the snow was still hard. During the lower sections of the descent, the sun had warmed the snow so much that it was soft and I was post-holing up to my thigh. I never did break out my snowshoes, even though I carried them with me.
I had purposely saved Huron Peak for an early-season tune-up hike and it had worked out well. The scenery was spectacular and the weather cooperated better than I had hoped. Huron Peak was the only 14er in the Sawatch Range that I had not climbed, so it was also a milestone summit.
Driving down the 4WD road was only a bit more interesting than the drive up, with about 4 switchbacks where I had to get out and scope out the best line before committing. The weirdest thing I saw on the drive out was after getting down to the car-accessible sections of the dirt road. I came upon an SUV laying on its side, sort of sideways across one lane of the road. There were already a few people around, but I stopped to see if anyone was hurt. No one was, and by the time I left, several guys had pushed the vehicle upright again. It was really bad looking, all banged up with parts falling off. They were going to see if it still ran, but I was gone before they knew the answer to that question. I didn't ask how they rolled it, but it was a real washboard road. I expect they were going too fast and the truck may have slid sideways, hit the ditch next to the road, and rolled.
Anyway, leaving the site of the roll-over accident, I headed east down dirt road 390. I was back in Buena Vista by 3:15 PM and in Colorado Springs by 5:30 PM.
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