- Date Hiked: February 21, 2005
- Miles Hiked: 4.0
- Elevation Gain: 2,160'
- Hiking Partner(s): None
- If I had known I was so close, I would have summitted.
Conditions weren't that bad, and I wasn't tired, I just wasn't sure how
far I had to go so I called it a day. This was
a consolation hike that turned into a scouting hike that should have
been a climb of Mount Machebeuf. I guess that's what plan B, no
map, and no GPS will get you.
- I had originally planned on hiking Square Top Mountain from Guanella
Pass today. Unfortunately, when I got to the pass, the wind was
blowing extremely hard (what else is new) and there were about 15 search
and rescue vehicles in the parking lot. I wasn't sure if they were
training or if they were looking for someone. I observed from the
Trooper for about a half an hour until someone walked by and I asked
what was going on. The person informed me that they were looking
for a hiker who was supposed to be back Saturday night; it was Monday
morning. I didn't want to add confusion to the problem, and I was
not very anxious to start hiking in what appeared to be hurricane force
winds, so I drove back to Georgetown, CO. (I heard on the news
later that they found the hiker that day.)
- I was bummed about driving into the mountains and not doing
something. I thought briefly about St. Marys Glacier again, but
I'd already been up their a couple of times. Then, I remembered a
fork in the Mount Parnassus trail from last week. A
co-worker told me it went to Herman Lake. I decided to settle for
a nice snowshoe hike below tree line to avoid the nasty weather.
- Surprisingly, I was the first one up the trail on President's Day at
9:30 am. I had lost time due to the detour to Guanella Pass, so I
figured I'd go as far as I wanted. A little less than one mile
into the hike, I noticed an interesting ridge to the north of Herman
Gulch. I knew Mount Machebeuf was also to my right, so I was
looking for a possible route for future reference. The ridge
was mostly clear of snow and looked challenging.
- After approximately one and half miles, I decided to leave the comfort
of a well-packed trail and start scrambling up a loose and partially
snow-covered scree slope. I was now slightly past the ridge on the
trail and could see
the somewhat protected gully on the west side of the ridge. There
was bare scree up to the base of the rock ridge, so this route provided
the easiest access. I only had to wade through thigh deep snow for
a short distance before reaching the slope. The terrain was more
steep and rotten than expected. I cached my snow shoes once on the
rock. Besides, I was only going to "check it out".
- I struggled up the loose scree to the ridge which consisted of solid
rock. I was a bit uncomfortable crossing the slope right at the
base of the rock ridge, so I followed the gully up a couple of hundred
feet on the left side of the ridge until it turned east up a large
chute. I scrambled up the chute and gained the ridge. I
could now look back southeast down Herman Gulch. The rock dropped
off precipitously and I was now standing on the ridge that I
had eyed when down on the trail. The Herman Gulch trail was
becoming more busy as I watched several snowshoers pass below me.
- Although the ridge above me was much more stable than the talus I had
just ascended, it looked fairly steep and was easily Class 3.
Add in the fact that the wind was blowing , some snow existed on many of
the ledges and cracks, and I was in heavy stiff-soled boots made things even more interesting. I assumed
I would get up a couple more hundred feet and cliff out.
However; each time I thought I was stuck, I found another route.
The climbing was constant and fun. I kept telling myself that I'll
go just a bit further to see the rest of the ridge.
- Before I knew it, I was at the top of the rock looking down a steep
couloir. Just above me, the slopes of Mount Machebeuf leveled off
and the summit was only a stroll away. I had to cross the couloir
without an ice axe to be certain of the final section to the summit, but
some big horn sheep had made a slight path across it that I
followed. Once on the other side, I was able to see that the
climbing was over and this was a viable route. Since I knew I
could make it through the rocks and wasn't sure if what I was looking at
was the actual summit, I called it a day and returned home.
- When I finally looked at the map and realized I was only 325' from the
top, I was a bit perturbed. Especially given the fact that I had
made it through the most difficult section of the hike. Oh well, I
guess now I have another reason to go back to Herman Gulch.
- Click here to view a 2D
map of the area where this hike is located.