photo - The east face of Humboldt Peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
Ascent Route: South Face
Descent Route: Southeast Flank
Members of Group: Stuart Paul, Zach Taylor, and Rocco the Dog
Humboldt Peak is a well known 14er in the Sangre de Cristo range with some good moderate skiing/snowboarding to be had on it's southeast flank. Though pretty easy by Sangre de Cristo standards the line is long, continuous, and classic. Its steepest pitch is right at the top and maybe 40 degrees. After that the slope mellows to 30-35 degrees down to treeline. It is a nice long strip of snow.
I had been on spring break for a few days but had been wrapped up teaching a few classes and working However I had the last four days of break off and was looking to get out and do some skiing. I had initially planned to go do some skiing in the Wasatch but due to the lack of snow that plan got nixed.
Being on the early part of the season and the fact that I had not really ever snowboarded in the Sangre De Cristo range, I thought it might be a good time to head that direction. I talked to Stuart about heading down there for four days and he was down so we took off from Denver with his dog Rocco on 3/26. We decided to do a relatively "easy" peak first, Humboldt Peak, to see what the snow was doing.
Stuart, Rocco, and I made our way to the lower South Colony Lakes trailhead at 8800' and began the skin in under sunny warm skies. It was gorgeous and we enjoyed the views of the Sangres caked in snow.
photo- The beginning of the skin into the Colony Lakes drainage. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo- Stuart Paul and Rocco skinning towards south Colony Lakes. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
After a few miles of skinning we decided to set up camp just below the south face of Humboldt. We had a few hours of daylight left so I dug into the snow and built up walls around my tent just for kicks and practice and Stuart set up his tent on the snow surface. We drank a couple beers, cooked dinner and went to sleep not too long after the sun went down.
photo- Our camp below the south face of Humboldt. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
The alarm clock came early at 0400 and we were skinning up the road around 0500. Initially we had planned to skin up to the Lakes and then the west ridge but we ended up deciding to short cut and climb directly up the south face below the summit. After a bit of bush wacking the going became a bit easier above treeline. It was just like a steep staircase hike for a couple thousand vertical feet uphill to the summit with incredible views all around....
photo- Broken Hand Peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo- Zach Taylor hiking up the south face of Humboldt Peak with the Crestones pictured in the background. photo by Stuart Paul, 2015.
photo- A couloir for another day on Broken Hand Peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo- Great views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
After a couple hours of steep uphill hiking we arrived on the summit and were greeted with panoramic views of the Sangres. It was quite beautiful. We hung out for a while taking pictures and enjoying the views.
photo- The Crestones. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo- Stuart and Rocco on the summit of Humboldt. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo- Zach Taylor on the summit of Humboldt Peak. photo by Stuart Paul, 2015
It was a beautiful day and we would like to have hung out on the summit for a bit longer but the snow began to soften and it was time to drop in. The snow started from about 100' below the highest point of the summit block. I did not bother to one foot it over the rocks for that hundred feet. We just walked down to where snow started which was pretty damn close to the highest point. I consider it a ski of Humboldt, others may not.
I dropped in first with Rocco close behind. The snow up top ended up being pretty hard for the first couple hundred vert but the snow corned up pretty quickly and we enjoyed some great turns back down to the South Colony Lakes drainage.
photo- Zach Taylor and Rocco the dog dropping in on the southeast flank of Humboldt. photo by Stuart Paul, 2015.
photo- Zach Taylor riding the southeast flank of Humboldt, 2015.
photo- Zach Taylor riding the southeast flank of Humboldt Peak. photo by Stuart Paul, 2015
photo- Stuart Paul and Rocco the dog riding the southeast flanks of Humboldt. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo- Stuart Paul and Rocco the dog on the southeast face of Humboldt. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo- Zach Taylor riding the southeast face of Humboldt peak. photo by Stuart Paul, 2015
We were able to pretty much ride all the way back to camp where we hung out for an hour or so enjoying the sun and discussing ski plans for the next couple days. We finally packed up camp and rode back down to Stuart's car at the lower trailhead.
photo- Hanging out back at camp. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo-Getting ready to head down. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
After drinking celebratory beers in the sun we decided to head south to the Huerfano Valley to check out California Peak. California is a centennial peak across the Huerfano Valley from Mt. Lindsey. Last year while looking at some maps I noticed a very large face/avalanche path that seemed to drop directly off the summit of California and run down to the upper Huerfano Valley trailhead. Though I could find no information on the internet about skiing this line and could find no good pictures of the face, I was intrigued and pretty sure we would find a really nice big line and we did. Look soon for the trip report on that mountain!
photo- A very tired dog. photo by Stuart Paul, 2015