Peak(s):  Mt. Neva - 12814
Date Posted:  07/01/2008
Date Climbed:   06/29/2008
Author:  roozers42
 Mt. Neva - Phoebe Couloir and North Ridge   

Route - Phoebe Couloir on Mt. Neva, descent of North Ridge, traverse to Satanta Peak.
Participants - Jen and Scott
Mileage and elevation gain - didn't keep track, but it was a long day.

After a great climb of Snow Lion on Mt. Jasper a few weeks ago, I was ready to go back to the area and climb one of the couloirs on Mt. Neva.

The trail to Arapaho Pass is almost snow-free and our approach went by quickly. Once in the basin below Neva, we scoped out Juliet, Desdemona, and Phoebe, and got a sense of the snow conditions.

Below the summit of Neva is the Northeast Slopes route; from left to right are the three continuous snow couloirs - Juliet, Desdemona, and Phoebe.

Since Juliet looked a bit rotten in the middle and Desdemona still had it's cornice, we decided to climb Phoebe.

A cool formation in the basin which we downclimbed to get to Phoebe.

We were maybe 100 feet up Phoebe when we heard a loud rumbling like thunder. Looking around, we saw blocks of snow tumbling down Desdemona - part of the cornice had broken off and it was only 7:30am. We moved right and took a line up Phoebe that kept us out of the fall line until we could see what was above us. From the bottom, it looked like there was a cornice on the southern side of the couloir, but once we were higher, it was apparent it was just a steeper wall of snow, nothing overhanging.

Scott in the middle of Phoebe.

Looking down at the debris that fell from Desdemona.

The section that broke off at the top.

An easy walk to the summit.

It was still early when we got to the summit, the approach had been quick and these couloirs are short climbs. I had been wanting to do Satanta Peak for a while so we decided to run the ridge, descend to Caribou Pass, and then take the short walk to Satanta. I hadn't researched the ridge at all, it looked a little nasty but we thought we'd give it a try.

A look at the beginning of the ridge.

Had it ocurred to me that this was the North Ridge route with the super-steep 4th class headwall, I may have just descended back to Arapaho Pass. I guess ignorance is bliss in this case. We topped out on Pt. 12,700, crossed a couple gullies on the west side of the ridge, and found ourselves looking down a nasty looking chasm. Nope, not downclimbing that! I'm pretty sure this is the crux of the route and it's something I would definitely rappell. We backtracked and decided to try and find a way around the obstacle by dropped down on the west side. Most of it was class 2/3, but we definitely downclimbed and traversed some class 4 and low 5. I'm sure you could avoid this, but the exposure wasn't bad and it was really fun. Lots of good rock, some fun chimmneys, and good route-finding challenges.

Pictures of Scott on the west side of the ridge.



We made our way to the low point beneath Pt. 12,700 and then back up to the ridge. We hadn't gone very far traversing below the crux, but it was time consuming. Before reaching Pt. 12,536, we were forced to the eastern side of the ridge and climbed a class 4 section for about 50 feet to regain the ridge. This was the last tricky section of the day.

Dorothy Lake from the eastern side of the ridge.

From the top of Pt. 12,536, the difficulties eased and the rest of the ridge was much more tame. We took off down for Caribou Pass and Satanta Peak, the last objective of the day.

Unfortunately for us, the Caribou Pass was snowed in and since it was getting late in the day and the runout was pretty bad, we reclimbed 550 feet. Boo!

When I got home, I looked at Roach's Indian Peaks book and read his route description. It was fun to find our own path and I realized that we were on the route most of the time minus the crux pitch that we skirted. One of the best days in the Indian Peaks and I've had quite a few of them!

View of the Neva's North Ridge on our way down.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice TR
07/01/2008 22:48
Sounds like a great time! Hope you‘re doing well.

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