Friday, March 26, 2010

UN 7140

25 March, 2010: The quest for Pueblo County continues!
Just this past winter, I climbed my first of the nine ranked peaks in Pueblo County--Booth Mtn., which is on Fort Carson. Now I am engaged in a great civil war--no, no, strike that--now I am engaged in trying to climb all the rest and finish off another county. Winter has come and gone, and I'm not finished, but I have made progress: I have six of the nine.
These are truly obscure peaks. Five don't even have names! Only one--the county high point--is higher than 9,000 feet. And all are clustered along the county's western edge. This one, in fact, lies (by my calculations) only about 500 feet east of the Custer/Pueblo County line.
As a result, I spent most of my day in Custer County. My starting point was on (Custer) County Road 388, which is also Forest Service Road 388, just outside the tiny community of Greenwood on State Hwy. 96. Setting off about 7:30 in the morning, Cimarron and I followed 388 eastward up a drainage (which I believe is called Hardscrabble Creek), until we came to the gate where it enters a private enclave of ranch property. There, we turned north along the fence line, climbing toward the ridge line to the north. My original intention had been to skirt the ranch altogether, but after climbing the slope for several hundred feet, and finding that the fence (apparently contradicting what my maps showed) continued on up to the cliffy ridge crest, we ducked through the fence and began traversing eastward. (An alternative would be to bypass the ranch on the south side and head east. This is actually a more direct path to 7140, but it would culminate in having to climb the steeper south slopes.)
After half a mile or so, we dropped into the saddle between 7140 and and UN 7380 (in Custer Co.). We crossed North Red Creek--conveniently still frozen over--and began the real climb. We headed up and roughly east-southeast through dense trees to reach the base of the rock cliffs which guard the south side of the long summit ridge. The first crack in the cliff face which I found offered a way to the ridge top for me, but the steps invloved proved to be too big for Cimarron, so we continued on east, looking for an easier option. We found one--quite easy, in fact--about a quarter of a mile short of the summit.
From there, we walked through seriously drifted snow to the true high point, which we reached after almost four hours of hiking. That was slower going than I had expected, considering that it was only about 3.75 miles! The weather was clear, calm and warm, and I got rid of some clothing. The views, especially to the north, were quite impressive.
We simply re-traced our steps back. That was easy until we got back on the traverse section. There, I found that the midday sun had all but obliterated my tracks! Fortunately, Cimarron's nose was an unerring guide, so I simply followed her. After getting back to the road, we then dealt with the abundant mud into which the same warm spring sun had turned it. The few pictures I took are at:

Long life and many peaks!


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