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Ascent of North Truchas Peak on 2009-07-11

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:My son Garret.
Date:Saturday, July 11, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:North Truchas Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:13024 ft / 3969 m

Ascent Trip Report

I have hiked Truchas Peak 5 times before but have never hiked the other 3 Truchas peaks. On Saturday morning, July 11, 2009 I left the house at 5 AM with my son Garret. I hiked with him to Truchas Peak when he was 12. He is now 29. We drove to Santa Barbara campground and began to hike about 8 AM. Our goal for the day was the Truchas Lakes. We hiked up the West Fork of the Santa Barbara. I have hiked out this way 3 times before but never hiked up. Most people do this hike in 2 days. It is 13 miles to the Truchas Lakes by the signs, but my GPS said it was 11 miles. We were starting at an elevation of 8800 feet and going to the ridge which is 12000 feet. It is a gorgeous canyon, one of my favorite in NM. The first half of the hike has an elevation gain of only 1000 feet and there are some beautiful meadows for a first night’s stay, but we pressed on. This is the 4th year straight that I have been doing these hikes with my son. On past hikes we had 50 to 55 pound packs, but we wanted to go lighter so that we could press on further. We converted to what I call Ultralight luxury. We both had about 30 pound packs. My pack was about 19 pounds of equipment, 2 pounds of water and 9 pounds of food. Included in the 9 pounds of food were 2 pounds of T-bone steaks. Ultralight luxury! The hike from the meadows to the ridge is a real chugger with lots of switch backs. We made the ridge, I am guessing, at about 3:30 or 4:00. We saw a heard of female big horn sheep with some of their babies. They were very curious and ran down the mountain to check us out. We were so close to North Truchas Peak, about a half mile, that we decided to do the peak today before going to camp. When we were a quarter of a mile away, almost straight up, my son, because of his knees, decided to do the peak another day. I pressed on to 13,024 foot elevation top. There were beautiful views in all directions. I came back down and met Garret. We took a direct route to the lakes and set up camp. It was 11 miles and took about 10 hours. We had a campfire, and cooked those wonderful T-bone steaks on the coals. The elevation of the Truchas Lake is about 11,900 feet.
The next morning I saw a sight that I have never seen before, a heard of female elk swimming across the lake. Garret and I had breakfast. Our goal for the day was “Medio Truchas Peak” and Middle Truchas Peak. One of the reasons that I did the north peak yesterday was that we met a hiker that said that going from Medio to North was very difficult. He said that when he had tried it before there was snow on the jagged ridge and that he felt it was a little too dangerous and had turned back. We originally planned to do the 3 peaks today. We went around the lake, and headed again almost straight up. It was a scramble to the top. We went up the north side of the peak and it took a little less than 2 hours. Once we made “Medio Truchas Peak,” elevation 13,060 feet, we headed along a beautiful ridge to the middle peak. Usually it is cold and windy on the top of the peaks, but today it was warm and beautiful. It was one of the most beautiful ridge hikes that I have ever done. We easily made Middle Truchas Peak, elevation 13,066 feet. I have now done all of the 13K peaks in New Mexico! The distance from the lake was only 1.1 mile, but it seemed like much more. It took us a leisure 3 hours. While at the top, I studied the hike from “Medio Truchas Peak “to North Truchas peak. It is very jagged and looks difficult. It looks doable, but I am glad that I did the peak from a different direction. We had lunch, saw more big horn sheep and headed back. It took a leisure 2 hour to get back for a total of a 5 hour hike. The GPS said we had only gone 2.2 miles. There were big trout in the lake. Garret fished to no luck. We had beef stroganoff for dinner and an evening campfire.
On the morning of day 3, after breakfast, we headed to Chimayosos Peak and another peak that we were not sure of its name. We later discovered that it was Barbara Peak. Garret was also going to do Truchas North Peak. I was glad I had already done this, I had paid my dues! We headed back to Santa Barbara Ridge and up to the top of the peak. It was a real leg burner, we headed almost straight up. We made the top, elevation 12,841. It took about 2.5 hours from our base camp. We took pictures and marveled at the beauty and the abundance of alpine wildflowers. We headed east towards Barbara Peak. Along the way, in a canyon below, we saw 2 male elk with full racks. They were the biggest horns I have ever seen. We also saw more big horn sheep. We made Barbara Peak, elevation 12,515. It took an hour and a half from the last peak. It was easy, but burned the legs going straight up. We headed back, had to put on ponchos for a little bit when it rained and got out our walkie talkies. Garret headed to Truchas North and I gladly went back to the lakes. Garret made the top of the peak, going the same way I had gone up. He has now done all of New Mexico’s 13K peaks! He went straight off the peak, south to the lakes. He said it was very hard on the legs coming straight down. The total hike for me was 6 hours and I went about 6.5 miles. Back at camp we had Lasagna and an evening campfire. We felt like we owned the lake!
I slept under the stars in my new 2.5 pound tent/bivy. That night, I felt like I was in God’s simulator; with falling stars, distance flashes from lighting, dense stars, little clouds drifting through, slight rain and the moon coming up very late that felt like a beacon’s light in the face. It was wonderful! In the morning we had a final visitor, a beautiful male big horn sheep that stayed with us all morning. We left camp at about 10:45 AM, happy that we had been able to do 5 peaks and the very long hike up all in only 4 days. From the lakes we hiked back to Santa Barbara Ridge then down the beautiful West Fork to Santa Barbara campground. We had lunch along the way and got back after an 11 mile, 7 hour hike. Our total mileage for the trip, by my GPS, was 31 miles. If we went by the distance of the signs we saw, then we hiked 35 miles including the peaks.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4224 ft / 1287 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4224 ft / 1287 m
    Route:Santa Barbara Campground to Ridge up East Slope
    Trailhead:Santa Barbara Campground  8800 ft / 2682 m
    Time Up:8 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Truchas Lakes Base (3 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1North Truchas Peak2009-07-11 a
2Medio Truchas Peak2009-07-12 b
3Middle Truchas Peak2009-07-12 c
4Chimayosos Peak2009-07-13 e
5Barbara Peak2009-07-13 f
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Phil Robinson
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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