8.15.2004

New Highest Peak

Well I lived up to my personal promise, no 10 mile multi-peak climb this week. That doesn’t mean I didn’t climb at all of course… Today I climbed Mt Lincoln, the 8th highest peak in the state at 14,286, and a new “highest point above sea level” for me, by 16 feet. I climbed with a person from work, which was good, because even though it was a relatively short climb, it was steep, and we didn’t see anyone else on the route. A definite rarity when it comes to 14ers. There were other people at the summit though, but they climbed from the other side, which is easier, although a little longer. The route we took is called the Lincoln Amphitheater, and the entire route is easily visible from Colorado 9 just south of Hoosier Pass. The route starts at the west end of Montgomery Reservoir and quickly climbs into the woods. The amphitheater itself is above a steep headwall strewn with cliff bands and waterfalls. Taking care with route selection, which you have to scope out from drive in, you can find the gaps in the cliffs that lead to the amphitheater. Once inside, you can see where it gets its name. To the north and south are steep rock walls, and straight ahead to the west is a steep rock gully filled with scree. Its like being inside a giant 3-dimensional “U”. The rock walls actually create an echo, and we could here Pika’s squeaks echoing off the walls of the amphitheater. At the west end, you have to climb out of the amphitheater by climbing around the south edge of the scree filled gulley. Once above the initial steepness, you can easily see the southeast ridge of Lincoln, which you continue to climb up to. At the top, there is an old mining road that goes by countless prospecting pits, and at several mine structures, most in ruins, but two were really well preserved. The final push to the summit is again a little steep but after the gentle ridge road, which acts as a sort of ‘breather’, it’s not that bad. The summit is a strange place, the surrounding peaks have gentle, flat, rounded summits, but Lincoln has this extra sort of knob on the top of rugged rock. Its as if it used to have a rounded summit, and someone decided to stick an extra couple hundred feet on top to make it taller. The views are great though, and it is the highest peak in the immediate area, so you can see all the other high peaks in the range, including 5, 14ers and 8 centennial 13ers. You can even see all the way to Pikes Peak, although it was hidden in the distant haze. After that it was just a return the way we came. The route totals out at about 4 miles round trip, but has 3,370 feet of altitude gain! With the exception of a few mellow sections, its pretty much non-stop climbing, but hey, at least we didn’t have a 3+ mile approach hike like the last few climbs…