Peak(s):  Bard Peak  -  13,641 feet
Mt. Parnassus  -  13,574 feet
Engelmann Peak  -  13,362 feet
Date Posted:  11/01/2011
Modified:  11/03/2011
Date Climbed:   10/29/2011
Author:  Floyd
Additional Members:   lordhelmut, Chicago Transplant
 Darn you Dsunwall!!   

A look back on 2011...

Actually, it was very nice meeting Dsunwall on Pt. 13,153 in the Sangres this past Spring; however, this unplanned encounter was the only time I saw another climber on a summit (besides those in my climbing party) in 2011. Family obligations limit my mountain time to once per month and December is generally a wash with multiple birthdays in the house on top of the normal holiday craziness. Nevertheless, I was able to manage 29 ranked, 2 soft and 2 unranked summits above 12k in 2011. More importantly though, I was able to visit every (major) range in the state (no offense to Flattop/Park enthusiasts) as the Front, Indian Peaks, RMNP, Gore, Elk, San Juan, Sawatch, Tenmile/Mosquito, and Sangres were all represented. And perhaps the best memory of 2011 was getting my 4-year old up for a 2 night backpacking trip that, while we fell a little short of Neva's summit via it's NW Ridge, left her begging for more trips to the backcountry.

October 29, 2011 Englemann/Bard/Parnassus

Finding something that Chicago Transplant hasn't climbed is becoming increasingly more difficult. Luckily, he's willing to tag along on some repeats though and he still hadn't been up Englemann so 1 out of 3 isn't too bad for him. We met at the Urad mine around 7:45 and were on the trail shortly after 8:00 am. The trail is an old mining road that continues past the sign warning of extreme avalanche danger ahead. Even though they are very close to Denver, I avoided these mountains for this very reason. I'm not one for tundra slogs in summer and I don't particularly like the idea of sliding down a mountain being chased by a wall of snow either. So, the "mud season" as Lord Helmut referred to this time of year later in the day seemed to be the most logical time to give them a shot. I needed to bump my "November" climb up a week to address some family obligations (which also turned this into a birthday climb for me) and all was shaping up to be a perfect day until the forecast took a windy turn about 48 hours prior to the climb. We were now looking at -9 wind chills and 30-40 MPH winds with gusts as high as 60.

So, on up the trail we went until we spotted a gully leading up the western flank of Englemann. Here, we bailed off of the nice snowboard track on the road for what looked like a quick/easy bushwhack. The terrain was pretty mellow and we followed a creek up the bottom of the gully. Either side (maybe 30 feet above us) was essentially void of snow but we stayed low, trudging through anywhere between 6"-2' of snow to avoid the winds that were already howling around us. Random Nat'l Lampoons' Christmas Vacation and SNL quotes kept our attention off of the slog for the most part. We still had about 500 feet to the ridge from the end of the gully and this stretch required several profane outbursts to deal with the 1 foot forward, 6 inch backward routine. After the loose gravelly mess, we hit the ridge to get the full brunt of the day's winds. Luckily, we were only about 100 yards north of the summit and, after a quick tap of the summit cairn around noon, we found some respite in a small snowfield just to the south. We dug in and hunkered down for about 10 minutes while we choked down any food/drink that wasn't frozen solid.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

There is actually blue sky up there

Cursing my way up the scree (photo by Brian)

Brian cutting through the wind

All smiles on Englemann (photo by Brian)

Blowing snow off Englemann (photo by Mike)

Bard/Parnassus (photo by Mike)

The descent to the saddle is extremely gentle and we avoided Robeson (unranked) to the east to avoid the winds as much as possible. During the hike:
Brian: "My hands are freezing"
Me: "Do you want my extra pair of gloves?"
Brian: "You have 2 pair?"
Me: "Yeah... This IS the Rockies"
We avoided the winds for the most part, but every now and again we'd get close to the ridge line and have to brace ourselves accordingly. I'm not one to guess wind speed but it was hard enough to blow my hiking poles horizontal if I let go.

Mike leading the way to Bard


After a little debate as to which summit is higher (it's the north one and it's not even close), Bard came easy enough and we assumed our positions for the day cowering behind whatever shelter we could find. The views over to the Sawtooth and G/T are quite nice, Emperor was already filled in, we could make out Navajo/Apache to the NE, but the real star on the day was Citadel and the rough ridgeline of the Continental Divide.

G/T Group

Heading off of Bard (photo by Brian)

My legs aren't feeling to fresh about now. (photo by Brian)

Looking back on Bard


Eisenhower Tunnel

Citadel and Pettingel

All that was left was a walk over to Parnassus but it was going to involve walking dead on into the oncoming wind. Also, the ridge is more sustained class 2 and was holding a lot more snow than the others. I was getting pretty tired and I have come to the conclusion that the more tired I am the more I sink into the snow. Mike/Brian would float right along and my leg would crash right through their footprints sinking about thigh deep at times. Those patches were few and far between so at about 4:00 we topped out on our final summit of the day where we got to discuss the craziness surrounding Tebow and other random NFL topics.

The descent off of Parnassus was steep but grassy so it went fairly quickly and we found a grassy shoulder just east of the Woods saddle down to Ruby Creek. About half-way down to the basin Mike went left and Brian and I took a snowfield to the right. After descending a bit, we could see Mike circling back to our meeting point and he was post-holing to his thighs while we enjoyed a nice plunge step back to treeline. We avoided the willow field at treeline and hiked the creek for a while until we got fairly close to our ascent gully from the morning. We broke off to the right where we picked the snowboard track back up which led us to our cars at 5:00.

Mike heading for home (photo by Brian)

I've thoroughly documented my gluttonous habit after hikes and this one would not be an exception. If you haven't been to Smokin' Yards in Idaho Springs, make it your next stop when on I-70. Brian/Mike shared a $35 coupon I picked up and I used the other for me. Ribs, Hot Links, Brisket, Pulled Pork, a Carolina BBQ pork sandwich, fried okra, sweet potato fries, spicy slaw, topped off with a Diet Cream Soda - Happy Birthday to me. Actually, I was quite disturbed I grabbed a diet soda from the fridge. Kind of reminded me of the first time that I ordered a triple baconator from Wendy's and the drive-thru attendant asked if I wanted mandarin oranges or fries with my frosty meal. I gave it my all, but my stomach couldn't take the last 3 strips of brisket and half of my cole slaw. I must be getting soft in my old age.

Brian's meal (photo by Brian)

Happy Birthday to Me!

This wrapped up a great year of mountains for me. I hope you guys hold great memories of 2011 as well. Happy New Year and I hope our paths don't cross in 2012!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Comments or Questions
Chicago Transplant
Nice wrap up
11/01/2011 16:30
Not a bad day to get out, a little breezy but I guess its that time of the year! Glad I got to share so many of your 2011 summits with you, looking forward to 2012.

11/01/2011 16:42
What's the deal with strong winds always creeping into an otherwise good forecast at the last minute??

That story about the extra pair of gloves is straight out of Three Amigos (scene in the desert where everyone but Chase is out of water and he offers up the lip balm).

Great read, Floyd!

11/01/2011 17:40
I think I quote Dumb and Dumber on 1/3 of all my hikes and ”Ya...we're in the Rockies” has to be my fav. This past weekend was ”I got worms.” ”I beg your pardon?” Cool climb, those mountains look better with some dusting and that is one killer meal.

Nice TR!
11/01/2011 18:07
I'd like to hit these 3 this year. Thanks!

Looked like a good day out fellas
11/01/2011 19:03
And that BBQ looks fantastic!!

kinda funny
11/01/2011 20:35
that Helmut would walk up peaks like that. Didn't know he was capable of such things after reading or hearing about his outings this past summer!
Nice report Scot, and hopefully we can connect again for another climb like we had on Sayres.

Quality trumps quantity...
11/01/2011 20:59
Congratulations on a successful 2011 campaign, Floyd. I hope we can get a group together for something slick in 2012. That is a lot of wind to deal with in a lot of wide open terrain up there. Way to persevere.

Did Mike order the ”burnt ends” again?

Biggies sub challenge
11/01/2011 21:22
Scot, there are 20 people on their wall of shame and only one person who ate the entire thing. Let's make it three next spring.

Great report. Happy Birthday. Scorpios represent!

Thanks all...
11/01/2011 22:14
Mike - great year indeed. thanks for setting the pace all year.

Wooderson - Brian remarked that you of all people would have appreciated the BBQ.

Fire - It's amazing how movie/TV quotes pass the time.

USA - 'Tis the Season

mtnfriend - hopefully we can get out for another trip this winter. and, yes, it was delicious.

Darin (or Darrin?) - Absolutely down for something in '12. I was a little surprised he jumped on that outing too.

Pap - Yes, we need to get out for a trip or 2. No burnt ends for Mike, but he mentioned the fried pickles were very good.

Matt - there has to be a catch. that chellenge seems too easy but you know I'm game. What peak are you eyeing?

”Da Meal”
11/02/2011 02:10
Fine outing with solid company. Wind just builds character and it was long forgotten after sinking the first bite in to those spicey sausage links. Oh man.

Thanks for the gloves Lloyd, your hands were looking kind of sweaty.

Steve Knapp
Interesting food
11/03/2011 04:34
I can't believe you guys ate all that stuff! Oh, nice job on the peaks too. Looks a bit brisk, perhaps the summer tundra walk isn't so bad after all? It's nearly time for Mike to retreat to the warmer confines of Vail/BC. It was great to hike with you a couple times this year Scot, and your reports are always good. See you next year out there somewhere.

Oh the TR title had me curious too, I was wondering what Dwight had done this time.

GPX Track for Route?
11/03/2011 18:57
Floyd/Lordhelmut/Chicago Transplant - I was wondering if you had a GPX track for this trip and would be willing to PM me if so? It looks like a great route that you gentlemen took. Good work on the post hike binge eats too. That is my MO after all my hikes

11/03/2011 20:34
Harry, I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver's full of sh%$, man.

Steve, only met Dsunwall the one time, but he seemed like a troublemaker.

alv: no GPX. Mike had his but it was turned off. The TH (Urad Mine) is at the base of Red Mtn, signs are easy to follow from Big Bend on 40. Our ascent gully is obvious from the topo. The ”taverse” is self-explanitory and we just picked the line of least resistance from the Woods/Parnassus saddle. You can actually see the road in the high basin on the descent, but our eyes were playing tricks on us because of the snow cover and we went down to the creekbed below the willows.

11/03/2011 21:26
Thanks for the information Floyd. It is much appreciated. I hiked Mt. Sniktau and ”Cupid” from Loveland Pass the same day you guys did this hike (last Saturday) and have some shots looking towards Parnassus...Pretty cool!

Chicago Transplant
11/03/2011 22:08
Yep, I had it turned off. Sometimes I keep it on for stats, but forgot to turn it on this day. The route is obvious enough that I don't think it would be needed for navigation. The only tricky part would be getting back to the road in the trees. We might have gotten lucky, but once we crossed the creek it took us all of 60 seconds to find it. Not sure how far up the creek the road goes, but if you follow the creek for a mile like we did, you can just cross to the right and bushwhack to the road fairly quickly! By the way, our route up would be an avy chute if there was any ”real” snow on it, for us it was windblown talus, but its something to keep in mind depending on the time of year.

Happy birthday
11/11/2011 07:14
Now that looks like the kind of gift a Scorp would give himself. Pure gluttony. My bday gift a couple nights later looked very similar. And 100% guilt free.

That trio looks like a great way to end the season. 2011 was tops in many ways. Thanks for report.

darn you
01/24/2013 17:35
darn, didn't notice this report until today, after a google search. sorry I ruined your record.

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