Ascent of Hesperus Mountain on 2015-07-26

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Collin Kamholz
Eric Kassan -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Tim Newman
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, July 26, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Hesperus Mountain
    Elevation:13232 ft / 4033 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was to be my first outing of Eric's 2015 Annual Colorado trip. I had had such a great time on previous trips that I had decided to drive out with Collin and meet Eric and the others and spend a week hiking and camping. Somehow, the fact I hadn't done really any significant/consistent hiking in about 14 months didn't seem to be enough of a barrier to deter me, nor did the fact my Achilles tendon was still not healed. Hesperus was to be a reality check and a test of my willpower.

It all started OK, though right off I was slow compared to the rest of the group. The beginning portion is on a very pleasant and scenic trail that starts at nearly 11000'. It had been nearly a year since I had been at any elevation over about 5300', and that proved to be a problem. I grew up in Colorado and my adaptation to elevation has always been a strong suit. So in spite of the evidence I should have had in my head (see Sentinel Peak and Cirque Peak in 2014) that it wasn't a given, I began to notice the elevation was again making things difficult.

The trail eventually gave way to more open country, and we began to traverse a field of toaster-sized boulders beneath the face of the mountain. They were quite loose and the going was slow and tough for everyone, but beneath the boulder field was some sort of thicket of vegetation that looked worse, so we took the rocks. The traverse ended with a steep hike up a trail that was really more of a drainage pour from the saddle above through fine scree. It was loose, very loose in places, and the going was slow.

Slogging up steep inclines at elevation in crappy terrain in a drizzle when fat and out of shape, with an injured Achilles tendon is painful and very difficult, especially when trying to keep up with others who don't have such problems. I probably should have just accepted it was more than I bargained for and turned back. But I kept fighting my way up to the saddle, and it took most of what I had to give to get up there.

Once up, the ascent up the back of the peak to the summit seemed to be easy, but it proved more difficult than I expected, either because I was spent or because it was actually fairly tough, I am not sure which. Probably mostly the former, with a little of the latter, and elevation kicking my ass too. Somehow I staggered up to the summit.

Getting down was nearly as bad. Back to the saddle wasn't too much of a chore, down the steep face was better than expected: the loose scree helped me here as I was able to slide in it quite a bit which reduced all the braking I would have had to do otherwise.

To avoid the awful boulder/talus field, Eric and I opted for the thicket. This sucked at least as bad as I kept getting snagged in everything and started getting cranky. In truth I was so tired it probably didn't matter which way we went, it was going to be very much a struggle. Once we got back to the trail Eric went on at his own pace and I pounded on for what seemed forever.

I was completely exhausted by the time I reached the trailhead, and everything hurt. I was so sore the next two days I seriously entertained catching a flight home.

Note: My GPS somehow turned off during the descent, just before heading down from the saddle. The inbound track would have been nearly identical, however, just the west to east traverse would be further north - through the thicket - instead of through the boulder/talus field just to the south. Stats are correct as the path would have been comparable, and I had a time stamp on my trailhead photo (adjusted for Mountain Time) that I always take as a cross check in case of just such a malfunction. Eric's Trip Report should have the accurate descent path for those that want the full track.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2680 ft / 816 m
    Extra Gain:186 ft / 56 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:North Face to West Ridge
    Trailhead:Trailhead off Forest Road 346  10924 ft / 3329 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Breezy, Overcast
Drizzle with some rain
Ascent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 27 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 18 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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