Descent Route: North Face And South Ridge
North Face and South Ridge
April 23, 2006
After our second night camping in our RV at Chalk Creek Campground, we loaded the truck and drove up the Baldwin Creek jeep trail about a mile to 10,000? at 7:00 a.m. Mt. Antero (14,269?) sits on the southern side of the Sawatch Range, just south of Mt. Princeton, and north of Shavano and Tabeguache. This part of the range is super dry this year, both from lack of total snowfall and from the high winds that seem to blast this area. Ten days ago, on my way home from the Sangre de Cristo mission, I noticed that Antero?s steep North Face was holding some nice snow. So after a great ski on the North Face of La Plata yesterday, it made sense to pick off another Sawatch peak while we were in the zone. The team today, as yesterday, was Christian Pondella, Nick Devore, Will Cardamone, and myself. No filming today, just photos and some great skiing.
Mt. Antero is named after a respected Uintah Indian chief, and was visited by the famous explorer, Zebulon Pike, back in the 1880?s. We climbed up Baldwin Creek Road for two hours, hitting tree line at 9:00 a.m. The snow had frozen nicely the night before, but there was evidence of horrendous post-holing by snowshoers from the afternoon before. I finally seem to have recovered from our days on Maroon and Capitol, and my legs had their spring back in them today. We found a nice gulch filled with snow on the west side of the mountain, and followed that line on skins to 12,700?. After the snow petered out, we climbed on talus rocks for another few hundred feet. There is indication of people mining for the plentiful crystals that can be found on Antero all over the place. Antero is famous for aquamarine, quartz, and topaz, and the hallmarks of crystal hunters litter the mountain. At a saddle above 13,000? we stopped for a quick break. The summit ridge rises abruptly from this position, and we were able to skin to within 200? of the summit.
As I said, it was the North Face we were keen on. To pull this off we had to add significantly to our total vertical, climbed and skied, for the day. On the summit we geared up, Christian getting into position to shoot with his Canon 5D and new 70-200 F4 lens. The snow on the north side couldn?t have been more different from our ascent route on the opposite side of the mountain. I went first and skied super-soft, sun affected powder for about 600?, stopping on a snow ar?te just above the long, high cliff band that runs across the bottom of the face. On an average year or better I could see the possibility of a line or two going through this band of granite, but not this year. Nick went next. He is skiing smooth and powerfully this spring. After three fantastic descents together this week (Castle Peak, North Maroon, and La Plata), we are skiing and climbing well together, and having a great time. Will Cardamone joined us for La Plata Peak yesterday, and although he is dealing with some blister issues, he is motivated. Christian shot Will?s line, and then we regrouped for the half -hour ?long climb back up to the summit.
The weather today could not have been nicer. On the summit the winds were light, the temperature bordering on warm, and the sun was blazing. We spent some time having lunch and enjoying the views of the surrounding fourteeners. Nick spied a line on the North Face of Tabeguache Peak (14,155?) to our south. We all looked at it through the binoculars, and decided to give it a go tomorrow. The approach to Tabeguache is long and starts low, at 8860?. We are going to get up really early and beat the sun, which means another 3:00 a.m. wake up call. There have been a lot of these in the last 10 days, and they get tiring.
Stay tuned for more trip reports from me and great photos from Christian. I?m on the road for the next two weeks, focusing on the southern mountains, and will update the site as much as possible.
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