Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Date Posted:  06/09/2019
Modified:  06/11/2019
Date Climbed:   06/05/2019
Author:  lee_werner
 Huron - Northwest Slopes   

This is a story about two flatlanders from Minnesota, Lee and Sami, who climbed Huron Peak on 06 June 2019.

Temperature & Weather:

The morning temperature was at a cool mid-30s with no wind. We enjoyed a firm snowpack all the way up during our climb to the summit from 5:38 am to 1:19 pm. The summit had very little wind, and we relaxed there for 40 minutes. Going down at 2:00 pm, the temperature was around low to mid-40s, and we could tell that the snow was beginning to soften. However, we were still able to glissade down to around 12-13k ft. After that, the snow was too mushy for us to slide on, and we were sinking anywhere between 4 inches to 2 feet. The sky rained gently rained on us late-afternoon around 4 pm, but the temperature had risen up to high-40s, so we weren't bothered. Back at the car a little after 5:30, it had stopped raining and we were enjoying the warm sun.

Gear list:

  • Ice ax
  • Microspikes
  • Full leather hiking boots
  • Snowpants/Rainpants (something waterproof that covered our legs)
  • Rainjacket (Goretex)
  • Extra fleece sweater
  • Hat, gloves, buff
  • Food, water
  • Map, compass
  • First aid kit

From the beginning:

We woke up at 4:00 am at the Clear Creek Reservoir Campground, a free campground just half a mile down 390 from 24. We tore down camp, ate some breakfast, filled our water bottles, double-checked gear in our summiting packs, and jumped in the car at 5:00 am. From there, it was about a 25-30 minute drive up on 390 until we reached the USFS road blockade. We found out soon that a few avalanches had blown debris across the road.

U.S.F.S Road Blockade. We found out later that there was considerable damage to the road from avalanches. Picture was taken at 5:34 am.

Yesterday, we had driven up to this point to check road conditions, and we estimated this blockade wasn't more than a mile away from Winfield, where the 2WD trailhead begins. We figured an extra 2 miles for the whole trip on a road wouldn't be an issue. We jump out of the car, get situated, and put our boots to the ground at 5:38 am. We soon encounter the road damage from the glacier, basically a bunch of fallen trees that are easy to get through with a little pathfinding to get back to the road.

At 6:53 am, we reach the 4WD trailhead.

4WD Trailhead - arrived at 6:53 am.

From here, the entire path was snow. We equipped our microspikes and moved on. Not too long after we pulled out our ice axes as well.

Most of the trail after the 4WD trailhead and before treeline was quite difficult to follow, and we wandered off a lot. But once we arrived at treeline, it became obvious where to go.

Looking back on where we walked through the trees. From this point, we're approaching treeline, 7:40 am.

We get to treeline a little after 8 am, still moving along nice and steadily, trying not to rush at all since we were still adjusting to the altitude.

Crossing treeline, 8:07 am.

Soon, we get up to a nice little hill from where we can view the rest of the hike, and the summit!

Small hill above treeline, 8:51 am.

The snow was still holding up well - we weren't sinking more than an inch or two. At this point, we estimated that we'd reach the summit in 2 hours, around 11 or 11:30 am. Oh, how wrong we were...

The picture below was taken from the start of the little shelf before the summit, center-left on the picture above.

On the shelf, 9:40 am. You can see the footprints of where we walked; it's pretty obvious where to go, especially on a clear day.
One step after the other. 9:58 am.

Approaching the summit, but still a long way to go. At this point, we were exhausted. Every step took serious effort. We took off our microspikes and walked up the rocks & gravel.

Approaching the summit, 11:47 am.
Looking back on the path. 11:54 am.

Sami takes a rest. 12:22 pm.
So close! 12:34 pm.

And finally, at long last, we reached the summit at 1:19 pm. Total hiking time from the car: 7 hours 42 minutes.

Summit, 1:19 pm.

We hang out at the top and relax until 2:00 pm. At this point, we actually ran quite low on food and water. We had each brought only ~3 liters of water, and a few energy bars. Were I to do this again, I would have brought 4 or 5 liters and a handful of bars. So with thirst and hunger on our minds, we headed back.

For the most part, we glissaded down, until at 12-13k ft the snow started getting too slushy from the temperature and we had to walk.

Looking down, just before the glissade. 2:09 pm.

The hike back was generally uneventful, except for some avalanche concerns. We did see and hear cracking in the snow, and we were sinking in at a foot or more. Under those conditions, we avoided all snow slopes in the 30-45 degree range and stayed on rocks as much as possible.

Back at the 4WD trailhead, 5:20 pm.
Crossing back through the avalanche damage on the 2WD road, 5:46 pm.

And finally, we returned to the car at 5:54 pm.

Overall a fun hike, if tiring. If I were to do this again, I would have allowed myself at least one more day of acclimation.

Best of luck out there everyone!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Great job!
06/09/2019 21:07
Congratulations. From your gear list you must have some experience or done some research before this trip. You Came prepared. Water proof, Wind proof and layers
The micro spikes and ice axe are life savers. You don't know how much food and water to take until one day you don't take enough? Makes that burger taste priceless when you get down, A?
Altitude sure takes its toll. Even those of us that live in Denver area at 5,000' leave early in the morning and are on top
of at 14er by noon that's 9,000' change. Those mountains are some badass fun ass kickers. I enjoyed your trip report

The spindoctor
Great report!
06/09/2019 23:11
Thanks for a very informative report. Pics and gear list were very helpful.

a true story to take home to minnesota.....
06/10/2019 08:16
looks like you had fun! very cool.

Good Report
06/10/2019 16:50
Thanks for sharing your experience. I've been eyeing this hike for the near future. Was the ice ax a necessity or more of a luxury? Sounds like snowshoes would have been helpful? I was surprised to see you made it without them, especially given my experience on Medicine Bow Peak this weekend. Nice work and thanks for the help!

Good work, helpful
06/11/2019 09:59
Thanks for sharing. A friend of mine and I are looking at the Apostle peaks which lie just west/southwest of Huron Peak.
If you see this, we would appreciate if you could share a photo if you have one of the Apostle peaks so view current snow coverage.

Thanks again!

06/11/2019 16:38
Thanks, we ate a delicious meal of fajitas at Casa Sanchez 2 in Leadville. Glad you enjoyed the report.

The ice ax probably wasn't necessary, but we found it to be quite a nice luxury. It made the hike up more comfortable for having something to lean on and made the descent quite fast because we could glissade. If there were high winds, however, I would have viewed the ice ax as a necessary item to maintain strong footing & balance on the snowfields.

I did take a few pictures of the surrounding area at the summit, but I can't remember exactly which directions they were facing. Nevertheless, I've included a few below that I took at the top, in the hope that you can at least get an idea of the surrounding area. You'll see that there is still solid snow coverage on most of the surrounding mountains.

Flatlanders from Missouri
06/17/2019 16:46
I bagged Huron in 16 with family, father and nephews, wide range of experience. Another group wants me to take / lead / guide them to Huron again. I am worried about the snow conditions. What might be your speculation about a mid July trip? I would love to hear about any other's success, struggles or suggestions from the boots on the ground there in Chaffee County.

We plan to take a few days to acclimate.
Day 1. Raft the Arkansas their in BV. and camp at Winfield Trailhead.
Day 2. Make it back a few miles in and camp at the foot of the incline to the tundra.
Day 3. Tackle the incline and set spike camp at tree line.
Day 4. Leave 3 am for the summit assault to try and reach the summit by 8:00 AM.
Day 5. Hotel near DEN for AM flight.>>

06/17/2019 19:15
I took a mid-July trip last year, and there wasn't any snow on the trail. That was last year, however. From what I've heard people say, the snow has stuck around longer this year than before.

Yet, regardless of the snow, I would be shocked if you can drive up to Winfield at all this summer. I only shared the one picture of avalanche damage on the road, but there were multiple additional areas with incredible amounts of debris strewn across the road. You'll probably want to call a USFS station or local outfitter/guide to get a real-time report.

If all the conditions are favorable though, your plan sounds fine. I'd personally just leave my camp at Winfield and instead save my energy for the climb, but that's more of a preference.

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