Peak(s):  California Peak  -  13,849 feet
Date Posted:  10/04/2020
Date Climbed:   10/02/2020
Author:  areedhay
 California Peak - North Ridge   

California Peak - North Ridge

Started from the Zapata trail at 6:30am. I was the only soul in the area, as far as I could tell. The initial climb through the aspen forest was quick and uneventful, except for the few elk herds I encountered. I reached the high meadow soon after sunrise. The faint trail cut southwest before climbing to the saddle. The trail through the meadow seemed more intuitive than previous reports indicated.

The high meadow. Enter a broken fence line and head southwest before ascending to the saddle above tree line.

I reached the saddle at 7:30am. The views down the valley were spectacular; the views towards Huerfano Peak and the Iron Nipple were even better.

Saddle on the Zapata trail. The trail is your choice from here. Huerfano Peak and the Iron Nipple in the distance.

From here the endless tundra begins; a series of grass benches commence. Once one believes the summit is in view, a false summit surely follows. I tried to stay climber's right when possible, so as to avoid unnecessary altitude gain/loss. But really, I'm not sure it mattered much. Monotony, as captured in the following pics, follows.

Some interesting wreckage on the south side of false summit 2.0. Not sure if this is the L-1049 wreckage from the 60s. Thoughts? See here:

At any rate. I kept slogging to false summit 3.0. Not sure if I took the best route. But I tried to skirt right when possible.

Is this the summit pitch? Nah.
The first view of Lindsay, Blanca, and Ellingwood.
Finally, the summit pitch...I think.

I reached to summit at 9:30am. A bit windy, but the views were overwhelmingly worth the up-and-down march.

Spirit of the Sangres: A bit of Lindsay, Huerfanito, Blanca, Ellingwood, Little Bear.

I didn't stay long on the summit. On the return to the saddle, I stayed more or less "ridge proper," which seemed logical on the descent rather than the ascent. Once at the saddle, the descent was very enjoyable, as the ramble through the golden aspen forest was memorable. I made it back to the trailhead at 11:30 or so and to Taco Bell around 12:30.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Plane debris
10/04/2020 21:35
There is quite a bit of debris at around 12,500 feet near the little lake that's to the SSE of California's summit. I imagine that's from the same crash, thanks for providing the link for more information.

Well Done
10/05/2020 08:55
Thanks for posting the quality beta on this Centennial. Look forward to climbing it.

Road Conditions
10/08/2020 10:08
How was the drive to the trailhead for this route? I've got a AWD sedan with average clearance and don't remember much from my trip to Lindsey earlier this year

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