Peak(s):  Mt. Lady Washington  -  13,281 feet
Date Posted:  03/17/2017
Date Climbed:   03/05/2017
Author:  Bob Kocher
 Scenic Loop via Camel's Gully   

Mileage: 8-9 miles
Time: 11.5 hours
Climbing Partner: Mark Van Lenten


A month or so ago my friend Mark, who lives in PA, said he was getting summit fever--Colorado style. We decided on the date and starting tossing around ideas for when he arrived. The standard route up Mount Lady Washington emerged as the front runner for day 1 of the weekend.

The weekend before our trip a friend of ours, Nathan Hoobler, successfully climbed the Flying Dutchman and suggested we make a loop via the Camel's Gully. What's the Camel's Gully, where is it and do I have any business going up or down it in winter? Nathan provided some great information about the route, including pictures from his climb a week before. SummitPost (http://www.summitpost.org/camel-s-gully/200414) and a few TRs on this site were also helpful, but I didn't find any information about the route during winter, which is why I'm adding this TR. The slope from the Chasm Lake Trail junction over to Chasm Lake and then the lower half of the Camel Gully could pose avalanche concerns under the right snow conditions and that concerned me. Having only taken avy awareness classes I knew there was a whole lot I didn't know about evaluating snow conditions and how to travel safely in the backcountry during winter (and in spring too). We decided to check it out and if we had any reservations about the conditions then we'd opt for the standard route up and down MLW. Thankfully, conditions were favorable for us, but please don't assume the route is always like this in early March.

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Mark says, "Enough talking Bob, let's go already."


We left the Longs Peak ranger station at 6:30 a.m. and 15 minutes into our hike we passed two guys returning from a 30-hour day and a successful climb of Kieners"yes, 30 hours! We chatted briefly and they shared a few details with us and then they hurried down the trail muttering something about sleep.

It didn't appear the Longs Peak area received any significant snow fall during the week and the trail was well-packed. We left snowshoes in the car (a good decision) and carried microspikes and crampons with us (also a good decision). We were glad to have spikes from the TH to treeline and again on the descent. Just after passing the Entering Alpine Tundra sign we crossed Alpine Brook and followed the packed trail as it weaved through the pines and into the flats of Mills Moraine where you are greeted by a view that reminds you why you love the backcountry.

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I'd say it was smooth sailing across the flats, but the wind was trying to push us up Twin Sisters in the background.


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Can you spot 5 ptarmigan? I'm convinced they wait until I'm about to step on them then run away laughing because I


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The Mount Lady Washington standard route basically goes straight up the broad ridge. That would be our descent.


It took us just over 2.5 hrs to get to the Chasm Lake trail split where we talked to a few other hikers who had started towards Chasm Lake, but made the decision to turn around since they did not have ax, crampons or helmet. If you're out for a leisure hike the Chasm Lake trail split is a worthy destination with great views. We added an extra layer, donned our crampons and ax and headed off to evaluate the snow conditions on the traverse over to Chasm Lake. We liked what we found and so we continued. This is where the fun started.

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Blue is the summer trail. Our route is in green.


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It was windy, but the views were only getting better.


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Crossing Chasm Lake adds to the uniqueness of the routes in this area.


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Photo credit to Nathan H. from 1 week earlier: showing the start of the Camel Gully.


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The forecast said "very windy". My face confirmed those ice pellets were moving fast.


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The closer you get the smaller you feel.


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After a crossing the lake we started up the gradual slope towards the bottom of Camel Gully.


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Photo credit to Nathan H. from 1 week earlier on Flying Dutchman: Camel's Gully in it's entirety with the Camel cir


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I'm just below a lip where the snow got really hard for about ten feet and our crampons barely dug in.


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We moved quickly up that section and all was well again.


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I don't remember it feeling this steep, but it makes for a cool shot.


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Just above the lip the angle lessened and we measured the slope at 37 degrees. Below the lip it was probably 40 degrees, give


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Just below the elbow (where the route turn's climber's left) you can see the Camel on the ridge.


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Looking down from just below the elbow.


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We followed the obvious snow pack up and to the left.


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Looking back on the area shown in the previous two images.


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From here we took off our crampons and proceeded to boulder hop the rest of the way to the Camel. The Camel is just left of c


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We took another break at the Camel to refuel and enjoy the view of Storm Peak and the boulder field.


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Ok, break's over"I'm freezing! Bye Camel.


Next stop: MLW summit. We stayed on the south side (climber's right) of the ridge hoping it would block some of the wind. The class 3 ridge isn't very long and soon we were on the lower of the two summits.

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On the lower (west) summit looking east towards the true summit. The summit area was largely snow-free.


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The summit provided plenty of rewarding views.


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I'm not sure how Mark does it"he gets off a plane and within 12 hours is at 13000' and does great.


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The descent back to the Chasm Lake trail split is straight forward, although it;s a slow go with all the boulders and talus.


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Power nap before we started the hike back to the TH.


Yet again, another fun, challenging and memorable day in the mountains; and as always we give thanks for safety while we were away from our families.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
--bb--
User
Thanks!
03/17/2017 16:32
This looks like great fun. Nicely done report!



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