Sangre de Cristo Range, Mt. Adams Peak, Labor Day 06

The Sangre de Cristo range (literally: Blood of Christ) in south-western Colorado is one of the few mountain ranges we had yet to visit, so a long weekend seemed like a good time. After getting lost in Pueblo, we managed to find the road to Wetmore, followed by Westcliff, a very nice little town in the valley to the east of the Sangres. Has a very nice bakery run by Menonites. I'm always surprised when 2 women in traditional Menonite garb speak to me in standard English; for some reason I expect a heavy low-German accent and limited English. Anyway, the sticky roll was excellent, and good fuel to start our 3 day trip up to Horn Lakes and Mt. Adamas. This will be the third Mt. Adams I've climbed, the first being in the presidentials of New England (topping out at less than 6000 ft I think), the second being Mt. Adams in Washington, topping out at 12,240 ft. This Mt. Adams is 13,931 ft, just shy of the proverbial Colorado 14'ers list.

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We took our time getting to the Horn Lake trail head and started hiking around noon. First destination of course is Horn Lakes, which is probably where we should have dropped the gear, but we were unfamiliar with the steepness of the terrain in the Sangre's and thought we might be making a loop of things. So we continued up over the saddle to Adams, with full gear, heading for the North Crestone Lake. Weather was not bad, not great. The Crestone needles are lurking to the south with some pretty dramatic scenery. However, a better name for the range than "Sangre de Cristo" would be "montones de piedritas", or "piles of small rocks". The mountains are pretty much big piles of scree (they're very young mountains in the geological scheme of thigns). Hiking above any lake involved a long, hard grunt up a steady 30-35 degree slope.

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Reaching the saddle in front of Adams, the ridge route looked really daunting, although Roach refers to it as "Class 2+". Having nearly been killed on Roach's "Class 2+" down-climb from Vestal last year, we know better than to take this as a "easy hike" indication. Looking down to the N. Crestone lake, it's steep, and it's no longer grass like the entire slope we just came up, and it's already 6:30, but we're stupid enough to head down there anyway.

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There's a cute little Pika in here, can you see him?

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We get to the end of the lake well after dark (very steep scree is also very slow. especially with FULL packs) and make camp. Sunrise is gorgeous however. We had feared the crowds on Labor Day weekend, but other than 4 other tents a good distance around the lake, we've seen very few people.

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We had been thinking about a bit loop through Willow lake, and out over another pass to Macey Lakes. This involves hauling all gear all over the place. But first we just have to get up Adams. We start back up the chute we came down, figuring that it was a royal pain, but at least we know how much pain, and if we came down it, we can clearly go back up it, something we're not sure on for the other scree choked, and very steep saddle to Adams' NW side.

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Our shadows at "sunrise" (very late sunrise, the sun just happened to get over the ridge by this time)
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Looking back at our descent route... what the HELL were we THINKING???

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Interestingly, as we climbed through 13,000 ft, we could see that pretty much all of Pueblo, Denver, etc. was overcast, but we were above it.

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We reached the dreaded Class 2+ ridge to Adams again, and discovered it wasn't tooo bad, but we didn't want to bring packs, so we ditched the overnight gear for the last few hundred feet. Near the summit we were graced with two immature golden eagles. I got a few pics as they soared through and moved on. The make it look so easy...........

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A few summit shots

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Looking back down to N. Crestone lake where we started the day. It's 1700 ft down, and a relentless 30-35 degrees hike up
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Fall is already in full swing on the alpine tundra
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The rock was really intersting stuff; it was an aggragate, which looks like 70's building styles; small to mid sized rocks stuck in concrete. but presumably it's all natural.

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We returned to Horn lakes for the 2nd night, just beating the afternoon T-storms and hail to tree line before continuing lower to find a good camp spot.

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Nice view of Mt. Adams from Horn Lakes

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On our last day, we took a long wander up Little Baldy Peak (which is more of an extended ridge). Gorgeous day.
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I had a little fun with Cairn building after lunch

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Adams in the background, it was a good 3 day break from reality

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