Friday, June 17, 2011

Mt. Lindsey - Northwest Ridge

Date: June 12, 2011Elevation: 14,042 ft.
Distance: 8.25 miles
Route: Northwest Ridge
Partners: Kenton, Daniel, Brad

Daniel and Kenton with Blanca behind.

This was an awesome trip with some great friends.  We spent the weekend at the lot fishing at Lathrop State Park capped off with a hike to the summit of Mt. Lindsey, one of the 14ers that we all had left to check off our list.

For years my family and I took trips to the middle of nowhere, Saskatchewan trying to catch huge northerns and walleyes.  We would always come back with some nice sized fish, but I'd never caught anything over 10-12 lbs.  Nothing that would be considered a trophy size northern.  Who would have known that all I needed to do was throw out a giant daredevil in the Horseshoe lake down in Walsenburg to catch the biggest fish of my life.  I was just goofing around in the afternoon and decided to throw out one of my "Cananda" lures more as a joke than serious.   I saw a giant shadow in the water I thought was a big log.  I thought, "maybe there are some big fish under that log."  Turns out the log was a 16 lb. Tiger Musky!  I put my lure right in front of it and it took the bait.  Lucky for me, Kenton had recently bought a huge fishing net at the local pawn shop before we went fishing.  We were giving him a hard time and making fun of him because the size of the net was overkill for the tiny rainbow trout we were catching.  I don't think I could have brought this monster in without using that net.  I take back the jokes, Kenton.

16 lbs.

The fish was the same length as Molly!

We later had a fish fry and fed the entire 20's/30's group at our church with this bad boy!  It was yummy!

Anyway...on to the mountain.

The next day we drove down to the Lily Lake trailhead in Kenton's truck.  The ride up there is pretty rough and was fairly uncomfortable squeezed in between the two of them in the truck that was really only meant to hold one passenger.  We had fun though!

Daniel actually fell asleep while Kenton drove up the 4 wheel drive road.  I was watching him as his head would rock back and forth as we hit the bumps and wondered how he could possibly stay asleep through that!  Some people just sleep hard I guess.

Brad's plan was to meet us down at the trailhead that night to camp out before we hiked the next day.  Daniel, Kenton and I set up our tents and got ready to sleep when Brad pulled up as the sun was setting.

He said, "Hey'm almost out of gas."

Apparently he had misjudged how far the ride would be and thought there might be a gas station closer along the way.  We asked him how much he had left.

"I'm about on 'E'"

We discussed what we should do and how to get out of this pickle.  Could we siphon out some gas from Kenton's truck into Brad's?  We couldn't find a tube.  Could we take Brad in the back of the truck back to town and then bring him back up once we get some gas?  That would take forever!  There was one other truck at the trailhead, but no one there.

About 10:00 at night, here comes this random old lady walking out of the woods to her truck wearing a headlamp and a backpack.  Brad went up to her to ask if she had a siphon or some extra gas or something.  She looked at him funny.  He asked her again and she motioned to him that she was deaf. So now Brad had to try to explain to her that he was out of gas using hand motions.  This was ineffective.  He came back and we found some paper and a pencil so he could write the conversation down on paper.  Finally, she looked around in her vehicle and found a plastic emergency siphoning tube!  We gave her $10 and thanked her for saving us.  It's always interesting the kinds of people you can run into in the backcountry.

We decided to go ahead and hike in the morning and worry about siphoning out the gas the next day.  It was getting late.

Blanca  from the trailhead

The next morning we headed out early along the standard route to Lindsey.  The trail to the saddle is nice and easy other than a stream crossing that had no bridge.  We had to take off our shoes and walk barefoot.

Daniel and Kenton crossing the river.  WOOOH!  COLD!
Easy going!

The first views of Lindsey don't come until you are almost to the saddle.  Then the entire route up the peak is visible from here.

Huerfanito, Blanca and Ellingwood from just below the saddle.

The remaining route.

From this point we split up and met at the summit.  Brad and I wanted to do the Northwest Ridge route which was steeper climbing, but stable rock.  Daniel and Kenton stuck to the standard North Face route.  Here's an image from that shows the different routes.  Our route is in purple/orange and Kenton and Daniel's route is in blue:

Scrambling along the ridge

This would be my first class 4 climb.  I was a bit nervous, but felt confident with an experienced partner.  Little did I know I was in for more climbing than anticipated!  As we followed along the ridge we apparently didn't drop along the side like we should have before reaching the crux.  We accidentally stayed too high on the ridge and ended up having to down climb some steep spires.  At one point I remember having to hold on with my arms as my feet dangled above a drop off searching for a foothold to get down.  This was terrifying.  Anyone looking to climb this route should study this image from carefully.  Our route up the crux is the middle orange line.  Those sharp points along the ridge with the yellow arrows....yeah...try to avoid those:

Once we were past the spires and back on route at the base of the crux, we took a break to get our wits about us.  What I mean is we took a break to get MY wits about me.  The near death experience we just had didn't seem to phase Brad.  Actually, it kind of made him more excited.  Different people have different limits.  Well, the good news is that the crux seemed easy in comparison.  Actually, it was a blast!  The climbing was fun!  It didn't last long though, and we were past the wall in no time.

Brad starting up the crux.

4th Class climbing

After the climb the route eases out again.

The remainder of the hike to the summit is easy and fun.  The feeling of accomplishment as we neared the summit was awesome!  We joined up with Kenton and Daniel and reached the summit at the same time.


Blanca and Ellingwood

I decided to descend the standard route with Kenton and Daniel.  Brad wanted to practice some more climbing and descended the way we came up.  The standard gully was nasty.  The rock was loose and made the going slow.  Many prefer the Northwest Ridge route, and now I understand why.


Once back at the trucks, it was time to siphon the gas from Kenton's truck to Brad's truck.  Brad was able to suck some gas through the tube to get it going.  The gas was dripping through the tube very slowly.  It took forever to fill up a couple 2 liter bottles so we could transfer them to the other truck.

Brad siphoning gasoline.
Eventually we had enough to get us back to town so Brad could fill up.  We followed him back to town just to be sure.  It was a great trip!  Thanks guys!