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Ascent of Mount Princeton on 2020-08-28

Climber: Bo Saunders

Others in Party:Elsa
Date:Friday, August 28, 2020
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Mount Princeton
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:12950 ft / 3947 m

Ascent Trip Report

I finally got Elsa to try and hike a summit, and wouldn't you know, we encounter the worst storm I've ever experienced on a peak. The weather wasn't looking perfect for this entire weekend, but we had driven down to BV to stay at George's place and had gone a day earlier than everyone else so I could try and hike. I decided not to go for Harvard-Columbia because I wanted to have some energy for partying later that night. So we reached the compromise of Princeton - and Elsa would come with me. So anyway, even thought the weather wasn't looking perfect, it wasn't really supposed to storm. We didn't feel the need to try and get up super early given that we planned to drive up the road to 11,000 feet. In hindsight, I should've taken my car because that road is rougher than what I'd normally take Elsa's Mazda on. But it made it just fine. We started hiking at 9:02am. We were making decent time. Elsa didn't like the gray cloud hanging around behind the peak and I told her we'd keep an eye on it. We had made it all the way across the rocky traverse along Princeton's north slopes and were only a couple switchbacks up the trail to the top of the ridge, when Elsa decided she didn't want to go on. She was cold and didn't like feeling rushed by the possibility of that gray cloud bringing rain. I guess she has a sixth sense. We were close to the ridge and I could've made the summit pretty quickly. It was about a mile away and 1,300 feet up - was guessing I could make it in 45 minutes. We were talking about this and how I'd meet her at the car when the first rumble of thunder happened. I said, well I guess we're both going down now. We both started down and within a few minutes it was really raining steadily. And the thunder and lightning we going off every 10-15 seconds. This was not the place to be. There is no way off that section of the mountain except to backtrack over the rocky slopes. We moved as quickly as we could. I tried not to rush too much because the rock started to get pretty slippery with the rain and I didn't want Elsa to try and move too fast and slip. But the lightning and thunder were right on top of us. The lightning wasn't really visible as we were facing the other direction, but it was creeping up behind us. A couple of times when I was turned around to wait for Elsa I could see flashes in the clouds. Luckily, it wasn't striking downwards. It looked like it was staying up in the clouds. There were small pieces of ice/hail dropping on us at one point. Thankfully we made it off the exposed rocky part of the mountain and were back down to the road and into the trees. At that point, the storm had actually moved over and off the peak to the west. The clouds were low, and I saw a couple of downward lightning strikes at that point. We were soaked and ran down the road for a good ways, but as we got close to the car, the storm had sort of moved off. The rain was just a drizzle when we got to the car. We stripped down and drove home almost naked. What an intro to mountain climbing for Elsa. Total hike time according to GPS was 2:39, with distance of 4.87 miles and 1,823 vert.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1950 ft / 594 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Route:East Slopes
    Trailhead:Mount Princeton Road  11000 ft / 3352 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Cool, Windy, Overcast
Partly cloudy to start, but ran into a thunderstorm and had to hustle off the mountain
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bo Saunders
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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 responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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