The next morning got started about 7:20 a.m. under a perfect sky and made our way up the trail. Roach's book says, "At 11,200 feet, 0.7 mile above the gate, do not follow the trail that continues up Matterhorn Creek. Instead, switchback up the steep hill east of Matterhorn Creek and enter the Big Blue Wilderness at 10,580." I think this is a typo, and should read, "...enter the Big Blue Wilderness at 11,580." We did not descend on the trail, and my altimeter was reading around 11,500.
The route is pretty straightforward, didn't seem difficult, and we found ourselves just before the Ship's Prow at 10:00 a.m. Most parties drop their packs here for the final summit push, and I did as well. I was anxious to see the summit pitch especially after reading that some people turn back here because the exposure is too great. I know it's all relative, but I didn't find the exposure to extreme, and it was mostly like going up a ladder or like the homestretch on Long's Peak. I was wearing a baseball hat, and missed some of the cairns going up and ended up in a couple class 4 spots but found solid hand holds pretty easily. Also, since I'm vertically challenged, I did have to use my knee several times because my legs weren't long enough to reach. Going down however, I could follow the cairns down to the Ship's Prow. The climb to the summit and back to where I had dropped my pack only took 20 minutes.
The walk out was nice, and we were back at the car at 1:20 p.m. We couldn't wait to get to Poker Alice's in Lake City for a well-deserved and delicious pizza. I highly recommend it if you haven't been there.
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