Thursday, December 30, 2010

UN 6495
Las Mesas del Conjelon West (6,988 ft.)

28 December, 2010: More trips to New Mexico meant a couple of additional peaks not far off the road. Ten days earlier (the 18th), I stopped on the way down and slogged through some snow to UN 6495. This is one of only three ranked peaks on the Tetilla Peak quad, so I hope to finish it off fairly soon. On the return trip, I scouted the approach to Tetilla Peak, and found that the last two miles of approach road (after county maintenance ends) is too rutty to attempt in the Honda, at least when it's wet and muddy, so it got put by for later.
Heading home yet again just before the new year, I decided to hit Las Mesas del Conjelon West, which is just east of, and the line parent of, the Wagon Mound. Cimarron, who hadn't had a climbing adventure for some time, accompanied me this time. Even though it isn't the closest approach from the road (NM 120), I started at the same place as for Wagon Mound, the Wagon Mound and Santa Clara cemeteries. Here I knew I could leave the car safely. I covered the roughly
1¾ miles to the summit by traversing over a couple of gentle ridges on the north side of the Wagon Mound, crossing the open, flat area in between (which sports a 4WD track), and climbing one of the gullies which split the west face of the Mesa. There is scrub oak part of the way, but it was nowhere more than a couple of feet high, and not really hard to get through. After getting to the mesa top, I first climbed the southern minor summit, which proved actually to be a tougher climb than the actual summit. Thus, it took an hour and six minutes to reach the high point. From here it was clear that I didn't have time to try to add Las Mesas del Conjelon East to my day; there may be a closer approach point for it.
Only after getting home did I realize that this peak completed the Wagon Mound quad for me, a nice surprise, especially since I appear to be the first one! This probably closes out the calendar year for me, as there is much to do at home with the remaining three days. But, ATC, it hasn't been a bad year: 66 ranked peaks in Colorado and New Mexico, 26 unranked ones, some of them highly obscure, and two counties and a bunch of quads completed. Happy New Year to all!

Long life and many peaks!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Hogback (6,584 ft.)

4 December, 2010: This was just a little easy one on an out-and-back on the way down to NM. Exit 34 (Aguilar) from I-25, then take CR 60 about 7 mi. east. The summit is the highest point on a volcanic ridge. Easy Class 2 or 2+ climbing on a broken catwalk for the whole length of the summit ridge. Another instant quad, as it's the only summit on the eponymous quad, and my first summit in Las Animas County. (Fishers Peak will have to wait for another day...)

Long life and many peaks!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dome Rock (9,044 ft.)

UN 9112 (attempt)

2 December, 2010: Both of these 9ers are ranked Teller Co. peaks. To avoid private property access issues, I used the “standard” (longer) route from the east. I started at the Dome Rock State Wildlife Area parking lot on Teller CR 61. It's 2 miles south of the intersection with CO Hwy. 67, right at Mile Marker 6. Perhaps the worst thing about this route is that you hike downstream along Fourmile Creek, which means that the return trip is uphill. Ugh.

The trip in was quick, however. I followed the trail along the creek until it turned south in between the two peaks. What a view! I angled northeastward up the west side of Dome Rock's gentle northern ridge, then turned south and more or less followed the ridge to the base of the north side of the rock. Up to this point, it is all just a Class 1 or 2 hike on trails and through the trees. That all changes upon hitting the dome. It's a HUGE rounded blob of Pikes Peak granite. The south side is a daunting cliff but, fortunately, the north side is more gently sloped.

It's still a challenge, however. The traction is good, and I was able to walk up most of it, although I took “some real care,” in the words of Random Hold. The crux, however, requires using all four limbs; I call it Class 4. It's a narrow, leftward-slanted crack about 30 feet high which connects the last walkable slab section to the more gently sloped top. I stashed my poles at the bottom of it, and spent the next ten minutes or so grabbing tiny projections on the rock, wedging my feet into spaces at the bottom, and pressing out on both sides with my arms to make vertical progress.

Finally, I lifted myself into an exit gully on the right (the overhung side all the way up), and was able to step out onto the walkable slopes just below the summit. The view to the south and southwest is truly amazing. Descending the crack was interesting, but not as difficult as I had been prepared for. I followed the north ridge more or less all the way down to intersect the trail a bit east of where I had left it.

On this trip, I also made an unsuccessful bid for UN 9112. The crux on this one, too, is a crack climb heading south on the east side of the summit ridge. With remaining snow in the crack, however, I found it too dangerous to continue. I made it to within about 200 vertical feet of the summit, and the way ahead seemed clear and relatively easy, but it will have to wait for another day.

RT (excluding the attempt on 9112): 9.2 mi.

Vertical: 2,420 ft.

Time: about 4 hours.

Long life and many peaks!