A taste of Antero

I finally hit the road yesterday, about a week later than I had planned, and started working my way up the Sawatch 14ers. They’re all easy walk-ups, but the lingering snow improves the scenery and covers the scree. This seems to be a heavy snow year — people are still skiing the Elk range 14ers — so the Sawatch are a good place to spend some time while waiting for snow to melt on the tougher peaks.

Nasty stream crossing I did by car.

My “new” high-clearance wheels saved me 1800 vertical and a nasty stream crossing, and I settled in for the evening a few miles up Baldwin Gulch. Both sun and hikers showed up around 5:30; as I ate breakfast, I watched two poor souls put their boots and gaiters back on after fording the stream. After shuffling gear (I don’t have my system dialed in yet) and ferrying another group across the stream, I headed out up the road/stream in full summer gear: running shoes, flannel, cotton socks and t-shirt. I brought crampons, but the snow was soft enough that I could either walk up it or posthole through.

Bird in transition.

A well-placed snow chute saved me some annoying scree-slogging, and I was soon on the summit ridge where, after orienting myself, I realized that I was too far south, and Antero was a long ridge away. It had been calm to this point, but a vicious west wind along the ridge spiced up the boulder-hopping. It also explained why the east-facing slopes are mostly snow-covered, while the west-facing ones are mostly clear. I had to wait out the stronger gusts almost on hands and knees.

Another hiker on the final climb

The south ridge was surprisingly narrow for a choss-pile like Antero, but there were no serious difficulties, and I reached the summit about two hours after leaving the car. The register was probably still buried, and the sunny, sheltered side of the mountain had a huge cornice, so I didn’t hang around long. I ran into a few more souls on the way down: a woman who had had enough of the wind, a hardy rock collector, and a tough dog who left his owner and turned around shortly after I passed him on the ridge.

It was a great day other than the wind, though 3h30 car-to-car is pretty pathetic. However, the short day did give me a chance to find a coffee place with WiFi in Buena Vista, where I’ve spent a couple hours writing and fighting with wordpress to update the blog. Given how time-consuming this is, I’m not sure I can keep it up while doing “real” days. But at least for now, I have plenty of time to be prolix.

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