Ascent of Jicarita Peak on 2017-09-08

Climber: Will Wente

Others in Party:Zeus
dog of lightning
Date:Friday, September 8, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jicarita Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:12835 ft / 3912 m

Ascent Trip Report

Since the forecast showed afternoon thunderstorms beginning at noon, and 9-10 miles of the run was above (treeline) 12,200 ft, I departed Albuquerque before 5:30am, and started the run at 8:07. It was a pleasant drive between Espanola and the TH. SR 161 is a well-maintained dirt road that ends in a large parking lot at the Serpent Lake TH. There were only four other cars in the parking lot (6 when I departed) that were most likely from hunters – I met two groups with two hunters each, one of which had camped overnight.

The trail at the end of the parking lot looks to be an old remnant of the road, but is blocked off to cars and almost immediately has a stream crossing. The Serpent Lake trail (#19) climbs at a fairly steady rate, and crosses a beautiful stream before 1 mile, after which Zeus and I ran into a group of cattle occupying the trail. The trail is well worn in places by cattle/horses leaving areas of muck to circumvent, as well as water erosion exposing a lots of baseball/softball size rocks that required careful foot placement so as not to roll an ankle while running. After 3.17 mi. (51 min., 0:51), I reached the trail turn off to Serpent Lake, which was well marked. Before reaching the ridgeline, I cool breeze made me put on my long sleeve running shirt – the first time that had happened this summer. A hail storm the previous day had left the ground white over large areas, and likely made the breeze even cooler. After 3.99 mi. (1:11), I reached the ridgeline and the Divide Trail (#36) and headed north to Jicarita Peak. Traversing below S. Jicarita Peak, I could see the silhouettes of several big horn sheep in the morning light. The Divide Trail was well marked, easy to run, and after 1.59 mi. I was on top of Jicarita (5.58 mi., 1:41). Lots of rock wall wind breaks built here, and tremendous views in all directions, but especially of the Truchas Peaks. I descended the same route, but then climbed S. Jicarita (5.85 mi., 1:50), where Zeus unfortunately chased the big horn sheep off the summit to the east, although possibly saving them from two hunters we met on the descent from S. Jicarita as we neared the junction with the Serpent Lake Trail, which we’d jog past on our way to Trouble Benchmark.

A bit about the Divide Trail. The route of the Divide Trail is superbly marked with cairns that in many cases are upwards of three feet tall, so immense kudos to whoever marked the route. No problems whatsoever, following the route, since the trail of cairns is obvious from afar, probably even through the winter. However, the “trail” is over the high alpine tundra, and is comprised off areas of grass, grass interspersed with ankle rolling rocks, boulder fields, and small stretches of dirt trail mostly interspersed with ankle rolling rocks. You can tell where my concerns laid. It required concentration to move at a quick hike and certainly at a jog, so the going was slower than on most trails. That said, the views were tremendous. It was easy to pick out Santa Barbara, Barbara, Chimayosos, Truchas, Trampas, and various other peaks. The wind actually let up on the way to Trouble, so I took off the long sleeve and was comfortable with my short sleeve running shirt.

Leaving the Divide Trail for Trouble, I crossed the worst of the boulder fields just west of Trouble Peak, but eventually found the USGS marker (10.68 mi., 3:41) and then skirted north to look at North Fork Lake. Took some selfies with Zeus and the Truchas Peaks in the background before returning along the ridgeline to the Serpent Lake trail (13.63 mi., 4:42). Although some showers were visible much farther south of Trouble, I didn’t hear the first thunder until ~1:30pm, and was back at the car shortly thereafter (17.61 mi., 5:42). Elevation gain of 1883 ft to ridgeline from car, another 492 ft to Jicarita, and 873 ft to Trouble Benchmark. A total of 3688 ft elevation gain throughout the run.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2375 ft / 723 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1194 ft / 363 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2375 ft / 723 m
    Distance:5.9 mi / 9.4 km
    Route:Serpent Lake Trail
    Start Trailhead:Alamitos TH  10460 ft / 3188 m
    Time:1 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1194 ft / 363 m
    Route:Divide Trail
    End Trailhead:11641 ft / 3548 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Jicarita & Trouble Benchmark (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Jicarita Peak2017-09-082375 ft / 724 m
2Jicarita Peak-South Peak2017-09-08 
3Trouble Benchmark2017-09-08873 ft / 266 m
Total Trip Gain: 3248 ft / 990 m    Total Trip Loss: 1194 ft / 364 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Will Wente
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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