Route: South Ridge Trailhead: McCullough Gulch
I climbed UN 13841 (AKA Atlantic Peak) (13841 ft) with Judith and Terry Perrine and Tom Perry on Friday, 20 August 1999 (it's fun to play hookey) via the South Ridge. The approach up McCullough Gulch we took correspond to the route described in Garrat and Martin's book. The trailhead is located very close to the new trailhead for Quandary Peak.
We started out at about 0740 with an overcast sky, some fog and ominous looking clouds. There is a good trail about 1/3 of the way up to the lake at 12695 feet. From there the trail becomes a bit more difficult to follow. The Garrat-Martin book says to head west-northwest straight for the saddle between UN 13841 and Pacific. This was the route we took to Pacific a few weeks ago. This time we pressed on and followed a well-cairned trail that veers southwest (left) up the South side of McCullough Gulch, right next to the West ridge of Quandary. This trail is apparently an alternate approach to the Quandary West Ridge route. After gaining the upper basin we left the Quandary trail and continued on to the eastern cliff bands under UN 13841. At this point we traversed north through a rolling sea of talus to the headwall leading up to the large flat area at the base of Pacific Peak and Unnamed 13841. The headwall still has some snow on it. The rest of the group headed up the nasty scree to the left of the snow. I started up the snow, but eventually traversed back onto the scree about 3/4 of the way up.
Once we gained the flat area, we headed southwest and then followed the south ridge to the summit, arriving at about 10:10 AM. The weather was still unsettled and quite foggy so the views were not good. It was also windy and very cold. After a brief stay on the summit we headed back down.
I had an interesting experience glissading down the snow field. About half way down, I saw large dark spot on the snow. At first I thought it was a rock, but at the last moment, I realized it was a rather large hole -- about four feet wide and about 4 feet deep! I was going pretty fast so I managed to sail over top of it (actually one cheek over it and one check to the right). If I would have been going any slower, I'm sure I would have landed in it and probably broke some bones.
For the descent, we took an alternate route on the far north side of the basin under the east ridge of Pacific. This is the same as the ascent route in the Garrat-Martin book. We made it back to the car at about 1:30 PM.
Another great day in the Colorado Mountains. Once again we lucked out with the weather and did not encounter any thunderstorms. It was actually nicer when we got back to the car than when we started.
The ice axe came in handy for the snow, but this time of the year you practically have to go out of your way to get on the snow!
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