Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  07/29/2020
Modified:  04/19/2021
Date Climbed:   07/20/2020
Author:  123tqb
Additional Members:   jvirene
 Icebreaker, Without Crampons   

Icebreaker, Without Crampons

  • Date: 20 Jul, 2020
  • Peaks: Mt. Lindsey
  • Route: Northwest Ridge
  • Mileage: 8.25mi
  • Vertical: 3500ft
  • Time: 8.5 hours
  • Partners: Josh, Logan

I don't usually write reports when I do a standard route (I realize that this route is technically not standard, however at this time of year it practically is), or if something exceptional doesn't happen, but this route was super fun, and I have a lot of beta, so I might as well. I got to meet two awesome fellow 14er-climbers on this trip as a bonus!

I contacted Josh (jvirene) after reading a few of his trip reports here on I noticed while reading that he was around my age, and his goals involved routes that I also really wanted to do. We chatted a bit before eventually deciding to climb Mt. Lindsey. It was a new peak to both of us, and didn't involve crazy amounts of exposure like the Great Traverses that we are both interested in. I told him that I'd drive down and stay the night, while him and Logan would drive down the following morning due to late-night shifts. I was itching to try out sleeping in my car. I was curious whether it would make me less tired in the following days if I could sleep in instead of waking up at 3:00 morning-of. Of course, there are ups and downs to both sides. Did I get more hours of sleep? Yes, absolutely. But was it better sleep? After tossing and turning in the uncomfortable trunk of my Honda Civic, I decided that it wasn't worth it. If I had set up a tent or even a bivy instead, I think it would be a much better experience. I woke up the next day a little bit cold and achy, but nothing a cup of tea and a puffy jacket couldn't fix. I parked at the bottom of the 4wd road for the night (after having to shift into reverse at a major pothole at 23:00), but I was ready to attempt the road again in the daylight.

Overall, I only found two cruxes on the road. For having almost zero clearance, I'm pretty proud of the amount of bumps I heard on the undercarriage that day. The big potholes were avoidable with some effort, and the rocks were generally small enough not to damage the car. I never bottomed, and this is definitely doable, depending on how much you want to baby your car!

The biggest crux, taken on the way down. Way bigger than it looks!
Another pic and another obstacle: cows. The water wasn't too deep.

For me, it took another hour from where Google Maps told me I could drive, making the overall trip around 4.5 hours from south Denver. I got to the upper trailhead early, where I made myself a breakfast of Mountain House chili mac and black tea and found the time to mess around with my new camera. Josh and Logan arrived around 6:30, where we introduced ourselves (e.g. an icebreaker, get the title now?) and got to hiking. We talked about what our schools are planning on doing for next year, life at our jobs, and our future hiking goals along the way, crossing the Huerfano River and ascending steep slopes with stunning views of Mt. Blanca in the background.

First vista. Blanca center, Lindsey hidden far left.
A mine we passed, just across the river from the main trail.

I want to say we made it to treeline within an hour. I don't know for certain any of our times, but I can kind of guess at our pace. (Note to Josh: if you know any of our times, just let me know and I'll update, thanks!) Even just before treeline the views were incredible. The wide variety of color in the Sangres have yet to disappoint me, this hike being no exception. The morning sun gave us some cool photos, and I started to take out my camera just before we headed up onto the Northwest Ridge.

Logan with Mt. Lindsey and the sun behind him. Photo credit to Josh.
Treeline. Lindsey is actually just poking up above the ridge on the right.

Before hitting the scree on the way up to ridge proper, we caught up to a couple with their dog, who had supposedly done this mountain before and were heading up the gully (without helmets! I wouldn't trust that the rock would stay on that route), and a hiker also headed up the ridge (also without helmet). We all parted ways around the same time, but Josh, Logan, and I had our high school cross country training to help boost us ahead of the pack. We attempted to take the ridge a bit sooner than the route description advises, and lost some time to the couple and their dog. We continued on ridge proper until a move just below the crux wall, that was just too exposed for our taste. While we backtracked, the lone hiker caught up to us to share in our beta. We headed up Class 3 onto the crux wall one at a time to take precaution against rockfall. The views were pretty good, but we kept our eyes down and in front.

This was single-handedly the best part of the route. We took the wall straight-on, aiming for the crack. Logan headed up the left side first, which proved to be an easy approach to the problem. I attempted to go right, onto possibly some low Class 5 terrain, but backed out since I had a heavy pack and not the best rubber on my feet. Josh went directly into and up the crack, and, while keeping it Class 4, barely squeezed through the top-out with his ultralight backpack. I followed Logan's footsteps and headed up to the left of the crack, and our new partner followed me.

Lining up for a shot on the ridge, Lindsey in its full just in the background.
Putting some images here just because they look so cool!

Me just below the crux wall.
Side view of Logan getting ready to climb.
Logan climbing some Class 3 up towards the crack.
Josh sending the crack itself.
Climbing above the crux wall, back to Class 3.

Topping out left us with what looked like an easy scramble for half a mile to the summit. The rock was very loose on the main trail, so we decided it'd be easier to take the ridge the whole way. As we passed what looked like the false summit, and crested the summit just above us, we found out that there was still another half mile left! Nothing difficult (only Class 2), and amazing views, so another few minutes didn't cause us any harm.

Josh making way up to the false summit.
Just wow.
The crew: Blanca is the tall, scary one, Little Bear is playing peek-a-boo just to the left, and Ellingwood Point is acting shady to the right.

The summit was already crowded with people when we got there around 12:00, which I thought was surprising since the drive was so far from Denver (although I suppose I had gotten used to 13ers and the winter season, where it was an uncommon sight). A big group of climbers announced that they were heading down through the gully, and to wait a while before descending above them (at least these guys had helmets!). We took a snack break and checked our phones for about fifteen minutes before going back the way we came.

A precarious cairn, supposedly only the gods themselves can balance this well.
Summit selfie! Rocking the cheesy moustache, if I do say so myself.

The actual trail on the return, we found, was a lot looser than the ridge on our way up. With a group of climbers just below us in the gully, we had to be extra careful in order not to knock any rock loose. We had originally wanted to use the Class 3 bypass on the way down, but upon further inspection by Logan, the way we came up was perfectly doable. We scooted down the crux wall and made it to the ridge below, where we parted ways with the other guy in our party (can't believe I didn't ask his name *facepalm*) to hike on ahead. We made it to the trailhead at 15:00-ish, but not before stopping at the mine on the way down just to check it out.

A look inside the mine. Kind-of. Lots of light around a dark hole.
The view on the way down.

It was an enjoyable hike, with some very enjoyable people to do it with. I wish I could do this kind of thing more often, but as I become an adult I find there are plenty of other obligations that must come first! I plan on hiking more often as I move up to Boulder next semester, and hopefully I'll get to do it with these guys again. I would highly recommend this route, as it's beautiful and not overly technical. Great hike, guys!

Here are some more photos, in case you need more convincing:

Working the loose part of the trail.
The downclimb conga-line.
More awesome views.
Catwalk to the summit.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Rock on!
07/30/2020 20:59
The ridge is a blast

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