We sat for a few moments eyeballing Gold Dust Peak. Though the description, in Guide to the Colorado Mountains, stated the connecting ridge was only .7 of a mile in length, it appeared longer. Ormes stated it is an "interesting ridge" which always leaves much to the climber's imagination. We descended off of Pika in our effort to lose more than 500 feet of elevation to get to the low point of the ridge. At times, it is best to stay on the ridge proper ... at other times, it is best to drop off to the left side (when heading towards Gold Dust Peak). The challenges of this ridge do not end when you reach the low point and, with snow still abundant, it was more fun that we thought it would be. The final ridge finish on Gold Dust Peak was reminiscent of the finish on Eldorado Peak in the Cascades ... stupendous! Steep corniced snow with thousand foot drop-offs on either side and views that are unending. We made the summit of Gold Dust at 3:30 p.m. Three hours on the ridge. There is a grey canister and summit register on Gold Dust ... we were the first this year to summit both peaks.
After a quick snack and some water, we descended directly down the face of Gold Dust Peak aiming for a pond that is located downstream from Lake Charles. After avoiding cliffs on the way down, we found a high patch of snow and had delightful glissades down towards the pond. We found that following the creek in Negro Basin worked well though route finding (due to cliffs) can be an issue for inexperienced individuals. We hit the trail at 7:15 p.m. and were back to our camp by 8:00 p.m. What a great "tour de Pika/Gold Dust". Happy trails!
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