Wednesday, March 03, 2010

UN 8176, UN 6947

OK; I'm trying to get back to being more timely about posting these entries!
I'm currently working on Pueblo County. It only has nine ranked peaks (a whole slew of unranked ones, though!), but they're nearly all really hard to get to. These two are prime examples (which is why it took a whole, very tiring, day, to bag two).
6947, my first of the day, is located just inside the eastern extremity of San Isabel National Forest, north of the town of Beulah. But guess what? There's no public road that actually goes into the NF that comes within five miles of it! Five miles as the crow flies: the actual path is considerably longer. And that's five miles of intense bushwhacking through scrub oak and deadfall without a trail...
OTOH, if you sprint across just a quarter mile of open range on the east end of a ranch, you can reach the forest boundary barely a mile from the summit in about 10 minutes. Technically, it's only a Class 2. Only the snow and timber slowed me down. About 90 minutes up, 70 down. One in the bag early in the morning! Then it was off down the road to Beulah and out of the north end of town to another section of San Isabel.
For this one, at least there is a tiny stretch of the road (County Rd. 212) which pokes into the NF right at the Pueblo/Custer Co. line. There's even a real pull-out! So I parked in Custer County, and immediately trapsed back over the county line, heading north up a drainage toward 8176.
It's three of the toughest miles anywhere. I climbed to the long ridge on the east side of the drainage as soon as I could, hoping that the ridge crest would represent the easiest way north to my objective. It didn't, as trees and spiky rocks occasionally make it even slower than plodding through the snow on the more level just below and to the west.
So I finally dropped off the ridge, and plodded until I rounded the next-to-last ridge point on the ridge proper. There, I crossed the saddle and gave up a hundred feet or so of elevation to reach the lower saddle on the west side of 8176. From there, I climbed back to the right (south), trying to stay mostly out of the snow, toward what looks like the summit, although I knew it wasn't. Once on the south end of the sizable summit plateau, I head north to the actual high point.
It had taken me over three hours to reach this point, and I was getting tired! It's a good thing that the weather held warm, calm, and marvelously clear. Except that I was now overdressed, and getting hot...
On the way back, I avoided the ridge, and just tramped south, mostly gently descending, across the huge meadow area west of the ridge, until I intercepted my own tracks from the ascent. The snow was getting soft, slushy, and slippery by this time, but I had little trouble re-tracing my steps right back to the car. I had figured going in that I could do this round trip in six hours at the very most...and by the time I had stripped off some excess clothing and pulled away down the road, I had used every last minute of that!
Pictures are at:
Long life and many peaks!


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