Monday, July 8, 2024

5 Miles in the Wrong Direction - Mt. Adams - 2024


Sunset in the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Crestone south southern colorado backpacking

Brad and I originally planned to do a backpack into the Weminuche this past week, but there were forecasts of heavy rains so we called and audible and instead headed down to Willow Lake in the Sangre de Cristo mountains for a shorter hike that would take less time.  Mt. Adams was on both of our lists, and was highly recommended by other hikers.  We started on the trail completely engulfed by mosquitos.  Wow.  I'd never experienced such thick clouds of these vampires.  They were so numerous that we would accidentally inhale them and gag every so often.  It made for a miserable 5 miles and 3000ft. of elevation gain to the lake.  Relieved to arrive at the lake, we looked around to enjoy the majestic mountain scenery.  Only...wait...none of this looks like Willow Lake.  Where was the massive waterfall and the views of Kit Carson Peak?  Another hiker noticed that we looked confused and told us that we were 5 miles in the wrong direction! This was actually South Crestone Lake, not Willow Lake.  

Bighorn Sheep

Brad's Karate Mobile

"This doesn't look right."

We had a good laugh (either that or cry) and sat down to think bout our options and look at a map. We figured out that we were looking up at Unnamed 13,159 to the east and Unnamed 13,552 to the south.  Both of these were connected to Adams via their ridge so we decided to try and create our own route from here and see if the terrain would let us summit Mt. Adams.  We did some scouting of the route that evening to see if we could gain the ridge of UN13,159.  Once we realized we could do that, we had high hopes that we'd have a good shot to summit Adams the next morning.  We built a campfire and enjoyed a mosquito-less night once the temperatures dropped.    

Sunset over UN 13,552

The next morning we trailblazer our way to the top of UN13,159.  It was another beautiful sunrise in the Sangre de Cristos.  It's always a special experience to hike in places where you know very few others have traveled and experience the solitude.  From the top of our first 13er, we looked at the route up Mt. Adams and had some serious doubts weather or not we'd be able to summit from here.  The slope turned out to be much more doable that it looked from a distance.  Once we reached the saddle, it was over 1000 ft. of type 2 fun climbing on steep loose talus.  At the top was the summit blocks that we weren't sure we'd be able to safely climb, but hoped that the ridge would offer some doable options on the back side.  Our hopes came true at the top and we had some quick fun scrambling to reach the summit.  Brad and I agreed that Mt. Adams must be one of the best summit views in this mountain range.  You could see a clear angle on all 5 of the Crestone 14er group.  

Approximate Route up UN 13,159

Jagged Spires - Prints available

Approximate route up Mt. Adams

Horn Lake

Approximate route to summit from the saddle

14ers Crestone Needle,Cestone Peak, Columbia Point (13er), Kit Carson, and Challenger

The way back was grueling, but uneventful.  Burgers in Buena Vista! 

Approximate Route from South Crestone Lake