Starting Elevation: 8,340 feet
Round Trip Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,630 feet
Route Description: "Colorado's Lost Creek Wilderness" by Gerry and Jennifer Roach (page 36)
Participants: Gary Swing and Tindi Akpem
Trip Date: April 21, 2003
On Monday, April 21, my girlfriend Tindi and I set out to climb the north ridge of Windy Peak from the Rolling Creek Trailhead in Pike National Forest. From the trailhead, we headed west on the Colorado Trail. At first, there was only patchy snow on the trail, but we put on our snowshoes after about one mile. The snow was continuous after that point, soft and unconsolidated. However, the snow on the trail was shallow and it was melting quickly.
About 2.8 miles from the trailhead, we reached a signed junction with the Payne Creek Trail on the right. We turned left at that point, leaving the trail and bushwhacking south uphill though the woods. As we trudged uphill, the slope became steeper and the trees grew closer together. We made slow progress, eventually reaching a more defined north ridge of Windy Peak. We climbed steeply up to the ridge and followed it a short distance to some large boulders. We were able to snowshoe over the first few boulders, but the ridge soon became too hazardous for a snow climb.
Tindi turned back at this point and followed our tracks back to the car. I continued onward with a dicey traverse across exposed boulders and a steep, icy slope. I worked my way over to the slope west of the north ridge and followed a tough course through the woods, mostly parallel to and below the north ridge. The upper part of the mountain was steeper and rougher. A few inches of soft, unconsolidated snow rested on top of a much harder, deeper layer of snow. I wound my way up between large boulders and rock faces to reach a flatter area above treeline with several high points to choose from. I picked the one that looked highest to me, labored over to it, and finished the short, steep scramble to the top. I found a partially buried summit register in a metal cartridge box.
It took five hours to hike the 4.7 miles from my car to the summit. There were dark clouds around the summit, so I quickly turned around and hurried back down the way I came. It took me just one hour and 45 minutes to get back to the car.