09 Season Launch: Uncompahgre

18 Jun 2009 - by Patrick Lilly

This was just a standard peakbagger's route climb of a relatively easy 14er. (Engineer Pass road west out of Lake City, CO, about 5 mi. to the well-marked Nellie Creek 4WD road, then 4.3 mi. up to the TH.) After an incredibly snowy spring, we were prepared to deal with significant amounts of snow but, happily, found only a little. Only one small snowfield--encountered just after "turning the corner" and crossing over to the west side of the south ridge--was steep and hard enough that crampons and/or ice axes might have been prudent. The rest was easily walked over, or allowed steps to be kicked with little fuss.

We did encounter fairly high winds (30 mph gusting into the 40s) between about 13,000 and 14,000 feet. It made that part of the climb quite cold, and slowed us down significantly, actually threatening our balance on several occasions. Thankfully, this let up as we neared the summit. The weather was partly cloudy, with excellent visibility in all directions from the summit. We hit the summit just behind two other climbers, who appear to be the only others to summit that day.

14er #42 for me, #40 for Trisha, and also #1 for Cimarron, our recently adopted Huskie/Australian Shepard mix. 3 hrs., 50 min. up, half an hour on the summit, 2 hrs., 30 min. down.

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