Peak(s):  Jackson, Mt - 13,670 feet
PT 13,433 - 13,433 feet
Date Posted:  03/08/2013
Date Climbed:   03/07/2013
Author:  FireOnTheMountain
 Sawatch Boonies in Winter   

Recent mountain travels for me have consisted of some of the more interesting 14ers in the Sangres. Concerned this was becoming a trend, I sought a remedy and old friend of a lower variety.

Kellar Mountain in the Gore looked to be the prime candidate but after some weather scouring I found that the same weather window that existed over the Gore was also over the Holy Cross wilderness. Then I recalled a buddy of mine (joelmpaula) saying he had given Mt Jackson a go in the winter and found it to be one tough cookie. Fortunately for me, I am quite fond of cookies.

Knowing this climb would be on the tamer side, I set aside the pons but brought the ice axe as it seems good measure to always have one in winter.

It would behoove you to read the following if you are planning on doing this mountain via the Beaver Lake TH so as to not make the same mistakes I did. There is no trailhead parking, after wasting 30 minutes like an idiot I decided the best thing to do was park at the free Elk Lot at the base of the mountain, get my pack ready and bring along my bivy, bag and pad. I then hopped on the free shuttle to get a ride up to the top. Getting off the shuttle, I made the half mile walk to the winter gate and then another short distance to the water tower where I set up to the spend the night. Lucky for me, the water tower is a stones throw away from where the snowcats begin and end their operations so pretty much all night I could hear the beastly things. Also note, the shuttles (at least in early March) run till 2:30 am (unnecessarily early to start I felt) and begin at 5:30 am (too late to start) hence the reason I came up with the brilliant bivy idea. Another option is to drop $33 to park in the garage for a day and then make the half mile walk to the water tower to begin.

After getting a few hours of sleep, I threw the bivy under a snowed in truck and at 4:15am began the long haul to Mt Jackson.
Early morning trail duty. Trail breaking averaged 7-8" always with extended areas of much more

The first 2 miles went pretty easy as it was all on groomers, but once I reached Beaver Lake at 2.5 miles a clear delineation became apparent of where people were willing to venture. For the rest of the day, Fleetwood Mac's "Silverspring" (a little girly I know) and Phil Lesh's "Box of Rain" would help keep my mind occupied.

It is somewhat sad, but the following image is not even close to the summit and I had already done 4.75 miles just to get it. If this mountaineering thing was easy, I wouldn't be doing it.

First glimpse of a high point (Turquoise Lake Cirque)

Walk into splintered sunlight. Inch your way through dead dreams to another land.

The Turquoise Lake cirque consists of the upper and lower lake flanked by steep slopes on the west and a mellower slope on the east. I carefully surveyed the west flank looking for any weaknesses but it was pretty easy to tell every chute was a ticking time bomb so up the west flank I went. The price for a safer ascent to gain the ridge came in the form of a less direct, undulating ridge. From this cirque alone I was beginning to understand why a bunch of my hardcore skiing friends were fond of this mountain and area.

West flank (standing on Lower Turquoise Lake)

Gained the ridge through the trees on the far left and followed it all the way to the high point

Breaking trail through the trees on the above photo was mindbogglingly heinous to say the least. Gaining a mere 500' probably took me the better part of an hour. Descending it however took about 15 tops, funny how that works.

Start of the ridge, went to the very far left to avoid deeper snow.

A look back down. Can see my track emerging from the trees

View of the west flank on the cirque

Look down the undulating ridge, almost to the high point of the cirque. Grouse mountains in the background

Seeing the summit so far away was a little disheartening but I was still lovin it and the weather was great apart from some gusts. However, after 8.4 miles and 4700' vert the ol' legs were startin to slow down.

Summit finally comes to view, notice the long bend to gain the north ridge proper

Cool cornice shot

Skier Porn

Some minor class 3 and a few gendarmes presented themselves which was some respite from the slog. Interestingly though, for the first time I can recall, I would of rather had slog because it was mindless and quicker.

A look back at the long ridge

9 hours and 9 miles later, I was standing on top of Mt Jackson quite pleased even though it was pretty late. A little lunch break later, I set off for 13,433 to the south. Knowing that I would be getting back late, I turned up the after burners for the ride up 13,433

Holy Cross and the Gang

Pika, Gold Dust, Finnegan!!

View to the south, 13,433 in the foreground

I left the summit of 13,433 at 2pm, fully aware of the amount of ground I would have to cover to get back. I just put my head down and charged which is part of reason I took very few pics (only 2) on the "deproach".

View of Jackson from 13,433 (aka more skier porn)

Beginning the everlasting road home

Arrived back at the water tower around 8 pm wrapping up a 16 hour day and one of my most fulfilling outings despite the lack of gnarly. To celebrate my arrival, the Beav setup a fireworks display (the timing was seriously uncanny)

Stats on the Ride: 6600' vert, 20.5 miles (not counting the additional 0.5 mile had to walk back down to the shuttle stop )


Tread Lightly my Friends

Not exactly roughing it indeed

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 20 21

Comments or Questions
03/09/2013 03:39
That's an outstanding effort.

Kevin Baker
huge day
03/09/2013 03:54
Stellar effort, Abe! Jackson/13433 is tough enough in summer as a dayhike, and you almost did the whole thing as a dayhike in winter! Now that is some tough solo trenching.

Big day
03/09/2013 06:42
Nice work. Jackson is a long day in the summer.

Wyoming Bob
Impressive to say the least
03/09/2013 14:39
Jackson is on my list but I wasn't thinking winter! Well done.

I Man
So this is why...
03/09/2013 14:43
You wouldn't do SL with me. Hmm. I can accept that

Steve Knapp
That is awesome
03/09/2013 17:40
Congrats on a very tough day, Jackson is one of my favorite peaks. Very rarely climbed in winter I'm sure. To go solo is truely impressive. You are ready for a winter ascent of Jagged.

Excellent report
03/09/2013 18:36
We've always enjoyed backpacking in to Upper Turquoise Lake, just never seen it in the winter. Wow. Jackson is on the summer agenda.

Way to
03/11/2013 15:08
choose a solid adventure on a seldom climbed 13er, in any season. Big day Abe!

a great adventure
03/11/2013 18:24
Matt - Was mostly too lazy to make the drive to Lake City.

Steve - Used you and Chicago's TR to get some beta for this. Thanks a lot.

Brian - Please tell the Gore Gods to have mercy on me haha

Thanks for reading

Lord Gore
03/11/2013 19:10
Haven't seen him in months, I hear he's been hanging out around Bubble Lakes this winter. You might have to go ask for mercy yourself! Peak I and The Elephant would trump your HCW stats, just sayin....

03/11/2013 19:12
A new challenge. I shall slaughter 2 goats, 1 sheep and a Jimmy John's Beach Club before I set out just to make sure the God's are in my favor.

Good Condition Update
03/12/2013 19:45
I'm hoping repeat a classic spring ski tour - over BC's Bald Spot, across west face of Grouse Mountain and then to the summit ridge where one either walks or carries skis, depending on the conditions of the NE face. Looks like I'll wait for another spring storm to cover the rocks on the long ridge above the cirque before heading out. The leg pain while climbing back up the Bald Spot during a beautiful sunset is sublime...

Cool Hand Luke
03/13/2013 01:25
Sweet TR, looking forward to going climbing with ya this spring. Cat and Cap, you know you want to. I'll carry the ghetto blaster.

big winter day
04/03/2013 13:35
Helluva trip there, Fire!
Jackson is sweet, as is the entire area.
And I like your opening statement....although your peaks of choice (in the Sangres) were some nice picks!

Fact check! Yes!
06/29/2013 21:03
Good job getting-after-it! I climbed Jackson and UN 13444 today and so far we are the only two people listed on UN 13444 summit registry for 2013. Jackson had an empty capsule that was missing a screw-top so not sure about Jackson. My 6 hour day paled in comparison to yours. Again, way to get-after-it!

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