07/27/2014 - Mount Lindsey (14,042 feet), "NW Lindsey" (14,020 feet), Colorado

Saturday the 26th after a lazy morning, we packed up the car and headed the 3.5ish hours south down I-25 to the Gardner area.  Our plan was to head 22ish miles from Gardner, deep into the Huerfano Valley and into the Sangre de Cristo range to climb Mount Lindsey.   At 14,042 feet it's ranked as the 17th hardest peak according to 14ers.com.  The "standard" route is a difficult class 2+ gulley directly up the north face.  Rockfall is typically a problem here since your essentially exposed in a very loose chute at the mercy of anything/anyone above you.   We opted to take the Class 3/Class 4 climbers route up the Northwest ridge.  Techincally more difficult, but we (and many climbers) safer.

We arrived at the trailhead, some 22 miles into the woods from the nearest town at about 8PM.  The last mile was pretty rough and slow going, but the Forester made it just fine.  We found a good level spot, folded the back seats down and rolled out the sleeping bags for some car camping.

I woke up @ 4:30AM, made some coffee and oatmeal outside with my backpacking stove and then we started to get ready.  We hit the trail around 6AM.

View of Blanca Peak (14,345) right of center from our campsite.

Close up of Blanca

Our route was taking us into the Huerfano Valley, and then we would ascend to the ridge between Mount Lindsey and "Iron Nipple", and unranked 13er.

Ashley waking up, hitting the begining of the trail.

We would climb steeply to the right of this scree pile through the woods to get into the meadow.

An old mine shaft along the river.

Eventually, we reached the 12,000 foot meadow in the valley, where the pyramid dome of Lindsey first appeared.

The dome of Lindsey showing in the center.  To the left is the Iron Nipple.

As we broke into the valley, we had killer view of Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point (14,042). 

Ashley breaking into the valley @ 12,000 feet.  Lindsey dome on the far left.

Blanca (left) and Ellingwood (right).  Gnarly traverse between the two.

As we climbed up higher to attain the NW ridge of Lindsey, the views were really opening up.

Another shot of Blanca and Ellingwood.

Looking Eastish, back into the area where we camped.

Once we hit the ridgeline to Lindsey, our route really opened up to us.
Quick bump en route to the ridge shows the NW ridge of Lindsey.

Getting closer to the saddle on the ridge.

Ashley working her way up the steep talus to the ridgeline.

Ridge attained!  The gulley in the center of the face is the "standard" route.  We were going to stick to the ridge (right side) and climb directly up it.
You can see the routes here.  Blue line is the gulley, purple/yellow lines are the ridge routes, with a few variations over the crux headwall.

Climbing up to the ridgeline on mostly class 3 terrain.

Once on the ridge, it was pretty straightforward up to the crux of the climb, the headwall.

Once we got to the headwall, we picked our line which is prety much int between the left purple and center yellow crack.

Ashley picking her line up through the headwall.

Once over the headwall it was easier terrain on a narrow ridge to the summit of "Northwest Lindsey". 

On the false summit, a lightning/hail storm opened up on top of us.  We booked it to the main summit (see picture below) and then immediatly headed for the gully to take down.  Within a few minutes, the entire face was covered in snow, and route finding was a significant challenge.  We dropped down the face, and quickly lost the actual gulley route, pulling too far south.   Once we reconized our mistake, we traversed accross the face on Class 3 terrain until we picked up the gulley maybe about halfway down.  Suffice it to say the summit picture below was the last picture we took.
Ashley did amazing with not panicking and trusting her climbing skills on the traverse.  You never intend to end up in a situation like this (weather pushing you quickly, off route) but it's important to never panic and be aware of what's around you. 

We boot skied down from the ridge on snow all the way to treeline and slogged out.

Ashley on the summit, literally a 15 second stay, already getting pounded with hail.

This is the Lindsey summit dome from the meadow @ ~1:00 PM.  

Back at the car, looking into the Huerfano Valley, notice the shoulder of Lindsey is blanketed in snow.


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