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Mt Lindsey via the NW Ridge

The alarm went off at 330am and we were on the road by 350am. The crescent moon was barely over the eastern mountains and acted as a guiding light. The directions from Google took us to a road that was closed off by a gate, forcing us to drive an extra half hour to get around it.

The beginning of sunrise on the way to the trailhead

The road to the trailhead was in decent shape and we were parking at 720. By 735, we were on trail. I had read some trip reports and gotten first hand accounts from fellow hikers, so I knew that this trail was known for its meadows and wildflowers. I wanted to wait until we were in the thick of summer to try for summit, to optimize the wildflowers, and boy,were we rewarded for that patience.

 

Our first meadow crossing

The first mile of the trail is fairly flat and takes you through meadows interspersed with groves of aspens and the constant sound of a creek running. After that first mile, the trail starts to gain significantly and for the next three miles, we gained 1,200 feet per mile.

Despite this, the uphill was easy to take on, as we were stopping frequently just to take in the views around us. After breaking over tree line, we walked through another meadow surrounded by mountain tops. This one the marmots called home. We spent more time than usual watching them chase each other, play-fighting, and lounging in the sun. Marmots are typical to see in alpine settings, but this boulder-filled meadow was particularly pleasing to them and their chirps sounded from all around us.

A marmot in the boulder-meadow with nearby 13er peak “Iron Nipple”
Blanca and Ellingwood Peak behind me

From here, we gained the saddle and turned right. The next section would be a ridge scramble combined with a false summit before finally reaching the true summit. Mt Lindsey’s NW ridge goes at Class 3, and I felt it stayed true to that.

Drew looking up at the crux wall

We got off route a little bit, but the crux wall loomed ahead and made it clear which direction we should be heading. From far away, the crux wall seemed imposing, a twisted tangle of vertical block, but as we got closer, it was obvious that it would be an easy obstacle with plentiful handholds. We stuck left, scrambling on bulges and giant blocks of granite. While we had been able to see Mt. Blanca and Ellingwood for most of the day, it wasn’t until we gained this ridge that the point of Little Bear Peak finally became visible. We recently read of a hiker who started at Lindsey and followed the Sangres ridge to Salida. We marveled at the line he must have taken and the elevation gain and loss required to hike that line.

Goofin’ on the ridge

View from the ridge looking west

False summits can be a bit of an annoyance if you lose a lot of elevation just to regain it. However, for this trail, once we gained the summit, it was a fairly flat and short jaunt over to the true summit.

We had seen 6 people on trail that day, mostly coming down, but since we had started later than expected, we had the summit to ourselves. To the east we could see the Spanish Peaks. To the south, we could spot Ute Mtn, a 10,000 ft peak that sits in my backyard. And to the west was the ever-impressive Blanca-Massif group.

You can be in a pano twice if you run around the photographer!

After spending some time taking silly selfies and double exposed panoramos, we turned back and started the hike down. For the descent, we stuck with the ridge proper and down-climbed closer to the water-stained chimney than our way up.

Clouds started to move in as we crossed the meadow below the saddle. For the last half mile, rain came down and for a brief moment, hail too. I commented that it had been a thoroughly Colorado kind of day and what a joy that had been. After 8 miles and 3,600ft of elevation gain, the rain was welcomed and cooled down our cores. When we looked back at the view we started with, it was framed in hazy rain, but by time we got to the car, the rain had cleared and the sun returned. All in all, a particularly fulfilling day in the mountains.

1 thought on “Mt Lindsey via the NW Ridge

  1. Stephanie, this is great! The pictures; the climb; the writing! I’m thrilled with all of it. Thanks for sending it to me!
    Love, G’ma

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