11.07.2006

Trifecta

Well we are going to get our passes on Wednesday, so last weekend I was not able to go skiing, unless I wanted to pay extra which I don't! That meant it was time to find a partner to climb something (or things) instead. When we were camped on Rainier we met two other climbers from Colorado and I have been keeping in touch with them looking at possible climbs in the future. Chris had a "hall pass" from his domestic duties on Saturday and was more than happy to meet me in Alma at 6am to head climbing. This would give him plenty of time to climb and get back home before having to go to a dinner party with his wife. We decided on a group of easily accessed thirteeners in the Mosquito Range, and headed up the road. We weren't sure how much snow would be on the road, but luckily we were able to go a good mile plus beyond the typical winter closure and park high in the Mosquito Gulch. From here we continued hiking on the road before leaving at the first of three hanging basins. We traversed across this first basin, past frozen Oliver Twist lake and up the steep slopes on the other side. This led us the the second, and largest bench. This was a large mostly flat area that provided a sort of "break" with easy hiking. At the other side was a steep rocky slope that led us the third bench, where another high lake (Cooney Lake) greeted us. From here we were starting to get into the clouds as there was some light snow showers hugging the mountains that morning. It was tough to see where to go, so we consulted the map and chose the mostly windblown slopes ahead of us to stay out of deeper snow. Soon we decided to take a quick break before we crested on the ridge to stay out of the wind while we snacked. The visibility was so bad that once we started up again we were on the summit in less than 10 minutes, yet we couldn't see the summit from where we stopped! This was peak one of the day, Treasurevault Mountain at 13,701'. It was cold and windy (after all it was only 8.15 in the morning) so we didn't stay long and headed for peak number two, Mosquito Peak. This is the namesake peak of the range, but not the highest. It is 13,781' and the 115th highest peak in Colorado. It is also a heavily mined peak, and as we neared the summit we saw discarded mining machines and several roads criss crossing the peak, all of these at around 13,500' above sea level! Those miners sure did work in a tough environment! The winds were a little calmer here and we hung out for a little bit before heading down the ridge towards peak number three, and unnamed peak known as "Repeater" because of all the telecommunications equipment near its summit. In the low visibility we chose the wrong ridge though, and ended up more towards the east than we should have been. We tried to traverse back to the saddle but changed our mind because of some steep icy snow. I even fell on this section and slid down for about 15 feet before I stopped myself, bruising my shin on a rock in the process. Its fine, but serves as a reminded that climbing this time of year can be really unpredictable! We made our way to the basin and crossed below "Repeater" to the saddle with London Mountain (our would be fourth peak) and had another short snack break. We then headed up the west ridge of London which offered a little bit of fun scrambling. There were several false summits along the way that kept teasing us, but soon we were on the true summit at 13,194', our third peak of the day and it was only 11am! While the mining history has ripped these mountains up, it sure did leave behind a lot of roads for easy access to our high peaks, its not everywhere you can climb three mountains all before lunch time... We headed back down, passing the London Mine (photo below) and followed the road back to our cars. In summer his road goes all the way to 13,000' Mosquito Pass, the highest road in Colorado and perhaps the continental United States! We had lunch in Breckenridge before heading home where I took it easy the rest of the weekend.