Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  07/13/2020
Date Climbed:   07/11/2020
Author:  Ldub
 Princeton's terrible no good Southwest ridge   

TLDR: This route is TERRIBLE. Route finding is near impossible at times, ridge cliffs out at points and is loose and sketchy at times. Fallen trees litter the lower trail where it exists. DON'T DO IT!

Wanted to do a shorter 14er with my friend from KC. We decided on Princeton, but after reading about how narrow the standard route 4wd road was (I drive an armada) I decided to take the Southwest ridge route starting at the Grouse Canyon TH. Left denver at 4 and got to the TH at 6:30 and started hiking. We immediately came across this lovely welcome.

Can't say we weren't warned.

After finding the stream and following it for about .25-.5 miles, the trail quickly disappeared. We saw some possible routes up to our right so we tried that option.

No more trail by the river, heading up.

This led to an hour of trying to find a decent route back towards the canyon/stream that we knew would take us up. We finally got to the dried creek bed that guides you to the ridge.

tree filled gully

We were happy to be on the trail again, but not happy with the ridiculous number of fallen trees in the gully that made it very slow going. we finally broke out of the woods after 8:30.

Ridge in view finally.
Follow the Gully.

Gained the ridge a little after 10. Quickly ran into a class 4 section and decided to drop to the right and follow a trailish looking thing. it was loose and sketchy, but the best option here.

Drop right before the big blocky rocks.
Heading back up, very loose.
Point 13,971 on the left, Princeton on right.

After multiple false summits, we came into view of point 13,971. We summited it around 1:00. Beautiful Summit views, contemplated turning back but the weather was incredible so we decided to push on.

point 13,971. Princeton behind us.

It was a long half mile, but we finally summited Princeton around 2:30.

Looking back at the SW ridge from Princeton

The hike back along the ridge was long and arduous. We tried to stay on ridge proper the whole time, but cliffed out and had to back track to drop down to the left.

Long hike back down the ridge.

We still couldn't find the switch back trail below the ridge, so we made our way back to the gully any way we could find. When we hit tree line we continued down the gully fighting past downed trees and getting beat up in the process. we followed the gully until it ran into the stream that was supposed to take us back to the trail head. it was around this point that the trail disappeared completely. We bushwacked our way through thorny bushes and wet ground for another half mile and finally found the original trail that took us back.

No trail here. Just wanna be done.

Made it back to the car at 7:30, 13 hours after we started. There are a lot of reasons it took us so long, my friend wasn't used to the altitude and was very slow going. the route finding made us waste multiple hours, as did cliffing out and having to backtrack on the way down. But even despite this, the route spends over 1.5 miles one way above 13,000'. This means the weather must be PERFECT to continue, there is no margin for error. I put on sunblock several times, but my arms and legs are still burnt to a crisp. The trail below treeline is rarely marked, and when it exists at all it is often covered in bushes and thorns or fallen trees.

I do NOT recommend this route at all.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
07/13/2020 12:39
It's an ass kicker, but it's a good route.

07/13/2020 12:51
Nice job! Gonna have to try this route!

I liked the route...
07/13/2020 16:32
...but it's not for everyone. Captain - my friend & I grabbed 13,626 my 2nd lap on this route - since I know you like 13ers like I do! Msg me if you need more info on that linkup!

07/13/2020 18:06
... if Joel says it's a good route, it looks like I gotta give it a try!

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