Springtime Climbing from Berthoud Pass

15 May 2005 - by T Colorado

Springtime climbing in the Rockies is a bit delayed this year due to several late spring dumpings of snow. In an effort to avoid slogging through trees and deep snowpack, we elected to pick some climbs that left from Berthoud Pass (11,300+ ft.). There are a string of peaks that follow the continental divide from the pass. We left the truck at 6:00 a.m. (packing our snowshoes on our packs ... oh, by the way, we had that really great experience of packing our snowshoes on the entire climb and never using them ... I guess that is better than not packing them and wishing you had.) We walked steeply up the crunchy slopes to the start of the ridge (just below the towers and buildings located on top of Colorado Mines Peak .. 12,497 ft.). At times, the snow appeared as sand dunes, sculpted and sparkling in the sun with snow dust dancing on top. We angled north and intersected the rolling ridge which was a mix of tundra, rock and some well-crusted snow. The wind was howling (but not all day) and it was sunny. We arrived at Mt. Flora (13132) first (which we had done twice before, many years ago, in the winter). After descending over 600 ft., we hiked back up the divide ridge and over to Mt. Eva (13130). There is a weather-related building and some broken towers just below the summit of Eva. After descending over 400 ft., we continued up the divide to Parry Peak (13391). The view from Parry Peak is so beautiful (especially since all the peaks around us were caked with snow).

We counted 15 people ascending James Peak like a small line of ants. To the east of us (and connected to James Peak by a ridge) was Bancroft. To the north was Long's Peak and so many other mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks region. You could see all the way to the Routt National Forest area (near Steamboat Springs), and down the neighboring valley to the Mary Jane/Winter Park ski runs (we could even hear the train's whistle that morning). To the west was the incredibly awesome Gore Range (with Mount Powell and Peak C dominating the view). Next to that range was the Mt. of the Holy Cross trio; then, the Collegiates (Massive and Elbert are caked). Nearby were Bard, Parnassus, Grays, Torreys, Kelso, Edwards, McClellan, Argentine, Square Top, Bierstadt and Evans. We could even see Pikes Peak way down south of us dominating the skyline. We hit the top of Parry Peak at 11:00 a.m. Not too bad for our first trip out of the season with so much elevation gain and loss. We stayed on top of Parry Peak for at least an hour. The wind even died down for awhile. There were no registers on any of the peaks (though we dug and dug trying to find them). It was such a nice day so we took our time getting back to the truck (in spite of the lure of the cold beer .... haha). We descended back down Parry and over to Eva making sure to soak up all the excellent views of cornices, meringue-glopped ridges and bright blue sky. We even got that wonderful effect of sunshine with snow flurries (I love that!). After bypassing the summit Mt. Eva on the west side, we descended the ridge below Flora and drug our sorry asses back up and over the peak (hey, wait a minute, does that make 4 summits in a day?!?!? ... hehe). Back to truck by 3:30 p.m. Approximately 11 miles roundtrip. After a beer, we felt spry enough to take a shower and go back for more (whoa there, Nellie!). What a great way to start the summer climbing season! Happy trails!

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