- Date Hiked: May 11, 2012
- Miles Hiked: 6.0
- Elevation Gain: 2,521'
- Hiking Partner(s): John Balciar & Kevin Smith
- Kevin called early in the week looking for a Friday climbing
partner. I was available, and lucky for Kevin and I, John decided
to join us late Thursday evening. We met at a park and ride in
Denver (CO) at 4:00 and left for the Indian Peaks in my vintage 1998
Honda Accord. I've tried to order classic license plates for my
car, but the motor vehicle department keeps hanging up on me.
Anyway, Kevin suggested we attempt the North Couloir on Mount Toll.
He assured John and I that the gate to Brainard Lake was open so we
thought we were in for a quick alpine climb. As we reached the
winter trailhead, we quickly realized the gate was not open. As a
result, we added approximately 6 miles of road hiking to our day.
I didn't add this extra mileage to my statistics above since they don't
- Kevin set the initial pace up the road at a slow jog, and conditions
from the start of our hike were certainly questionable. Throughout
the approach, we could generally only see about 150' due to the pea soup
like weather. Fortunately, John had entered our route into his GPS
and we were able to stay on track. For some reason I thought my
keen internal mountaineering instinct was more accurate than his GPS,
and I continually kept pulling us to far right up the drainage.
John quietly kept us on route rather than telling me what a dumbass I
was for going the wrong direction. We quickly reached Blue Lake in
the upper basin with still no view of our intended route. We
continued up toward the saddle between Mount Toll and Paiute Peak
without even catching a glimpse of Mount Toll. We took a quick
break feeling certain we were very close to the actual climbing.
Right on cue, the clouds and fog lifted enough for us to raise our heads
skyward and finally see the North Couloir. Our depth perception
was pretty messed up, and it was a bit intimidating to wrench our necks
up and see the route above us.
- We quickly geared up to take advantage of the break in the weather
and started up the climb. We free climbed about one-third of the
way up the snow going through two short mixed steps. The route
gently winds it's way up the mountainside in a skinny "S" to the summit.
Snow conditions were generally good for kicking steps, although the
constrictions were a bit tricky due to loose snow on rock. We
roped up for a couple of pitches and some simul-climbing before being
deposited almost directly on the summit. We had a few minutes to
refuel and enjoy some limited views.
- We descended the south face route catching a couple of good
glissades on the way back to Blue Lake. The temperature got colder
which was needed to keep the snow firm and avoid severe post-holing on
the hike out. The last few miles on the road seemed to last a long
time, but we eventually made it back to the winter trailhead and enjoyed
a beer. After this, we went into Boulder (CO) and had some Mexican
food at the Rio. We thought it was definitely a worthwhile route
that reminded us a lot of Dreamweaver on Mount Meeker only not as long.
- Click here
to view a
map of the area where this hike is located.