We drove through the town of Montezuma, and after a mile or so found a nice spot just off the road and bedded down for the night in the back of the truck. We awoke to birds singing and a beautiful start to the day. After some coffee, we drove back to Montezuma and parked in the area that we use to park when cross country skiing up Saints John in the winter. We put on our packs and opted to not bring the snowshoes (something we did not regret by the end of the day).
The trail begins at the stop sign in the middle of town. Follow the obvious jeep road heading basically east from the stop sign. The road zig-zags quite a bit, but the elevation gain is continuous. After about 8 switchbacks, we passed an old school volkwagon bug (with Vermont plates) parked off to the side of the road. We hiked on, and after about 1/2 mile came to a jeep parked where the drifts had made it impossible for further passage. At that point, we made a beeline for the ridge above us (avoiding snow patches as much as possible) and soon came to a footpath that we followed that eventually met up with the jeep road at the saddle north of Santa Fe Peak. The views on this ridge are wonderful. It's quite a satisfying experience to look around at all the peaks you can see and know that you've been on all those summits (sans a couple).
We continued up the ridge to the top of Santa Fe Peak and got a good view of Sullivan Mountain, Geneva Peak, Landslide Peak and finally Webster Pass. It was evident, at that point in time, that we would not be continuing on to Webster Pass as snow coated the entire basin below the pass and would make foot travel (without snowshoes) very unpleasant. We followed some snowslopes (well set-up) down Santa Fe and on to Sullivan Mountain. The skies were beginning to cloud up all around us, but did not rob us of the sunshine. We then descended Sullivan and made our way to the saddle between it and Geneva Peak. There was a wonderful rocky trail all the way to the top of Geneva Peak (and still no summit registers on any of the peaks). Geneva Peak is the prettiest of the four mountains as its east side has many steep gullies and rock ribs. We were soon off descending quickly and walking over to Landslide Peak (no time to dilly dally or we would be caught up high in the approaching bad weather).
We followed the gentle tundra down between Landslide and Geneva and soon came to a gully (getting a few meaningless sloppy glissades in). At this point, our plan was to do a descending traverse (below the peaks we climbed) aiming for an open meadow down in the dry part of the valley where we could see the 4WD road for Webster Pass. This took a bit of route finding to stay on dry ground, and we did have a few moments of massive postholing with me being buried up to my crotch a couple of times. We also hunkered down a couple of times in the trees during light fast-moving snow showers (plus it gave us time to take a couple of sit down breaks which we did not do when we were on the ridge). Eventually, we made it down to the Webster Pass road and followed that down until it intersected the road we had been on in the morning. A short (maybe 1/2 mile) hike on the road brought us to our truck. We were pleased to close out another quadrangle (Montezuma).
This is a wonderful loop with fantastic views and great photographic opportunities. The mountains in the area look particularly good right now with their remaining cornices and snowy accented ridges, giving nice definition that does not exist in the summertime. Until next time, Happy Trails!