Peak(s):  Mt. Flora  -  13,146 feet
Mt. Eva  -  13,130 feet
Colorado Mines Peak - 12493
Date Posted:  06/09/2010
Modified:  06/12/2010
Date Climbed:   06/08/2010
Author:  Matt
 Divided Sky, The Wind Blows High   

Approximately 3400ft vertical gain
?? miles
(I don't own a GPS and am too lazy to figure it out with a map).

Having moved north to the Front Range, I've had to reconsider my name on this site. That's not going to change, but I do feel like a kid in a candy store around here, making not living by the San Juans any more a bit less difficult. Most Front Range folk start out this hobby with peaks like Grays/Torreys, Sniktau/Grizzly, Twin Sisters, etc., and go from there. Being from the south, I've done things in the opposite fashion. Until this spring, Longs Peak was my only summit north of I-70 in Colorado. I'm finding the I-70 corridor to be a playground of new peaks that are easily accessible much earlier in the season than in my previous life. My first trips above 13,000ft in most years don't start until Memorial Day. 2010? Early April. Good stuff.

However, after trampling mostly below treeline since moving here, I've been enjoying recent outings on the tundra, and was ready for another. Last week, Moonnugs (Kevin) and I made plans to hike something this Tuesday. Our choices boiled down to Square Top-->Argentine/Wilcox, etc., or a stroll along the Divide from Berthoud Pass to grab ranked 13ers Flora, Eva, and (maybe) Parry. We chose the latter.

Thanks to Avs88fan's TR, which I found just before leaving for this hike, we decided to leave snow gear in the car, a decision I only regretted for about five minutes when facing a slope I'd have enjoyed glissading. His TR also inspired us to do this section of the Divide from up high (Berthoud) instead of the lower access points. I much prefer dry conditions to snow, enjoying myself instead of struggling when the payout's essentially the same.

We started out from the parking area at Berthoud, and I convinced Kevin to hit the summit of Colorado Mines sooner rather than later. Since it's only a 12er, most accounts of this hike give Mines the shaft; if mentioned or hiked at all, it's not deemed important. Every time I drove to Winter Park last season, I thought about hiking Flora/Eva and figured this peak ought to be included, too. From US 40, it doesn't look like much, but often, the journey provides as many smiles as the destination. We ignored the road that goes to the summit, since it meanders well out of the most direct path, and followed some old power lines, crossing two small snowfields, the Continental Divide Trail (the CDT, which we later joined), and hitting the summit in 40 minutes or so. While it wasn't windy yet, clouds were billowing up from below, making for some interesting photos. Here are some pics from the ascent and the summit:




It didn't take long to start feeling irradiated, so we motored after a couple minutes, knowing we had at least two more peaks to go. From the summit, we could look down and see the CDT below us, headed toward Flora. Our path along the edge featured cornices and snow sculpture galore.

Evans, et al in the background


Looking back toward Mines

After intersecting the CDT, we ascended toward Flora

On the crest of the Divide, the usual amazing spectrum of views opened up. One thing I enjoy about hiking along the Divide is that looking one direction, then the other, often shows a literally divided sky.

Clear skies looking at Grays and Torreys

Cloud inversion over Winter Park

Blurry Moonnugs above the clouds

We reached the summit of Flora, stopped for a snack, snapped some photos, and got a move on. The wind had been dormant to this point, but decided to pick up, I guess to make things interesting and remind us that some clouds were starting to build in the distance. From the summit, we headed this way...

Eva's summit lies ahead, with Parry and Bancroft behind

Kevin took advantage of the soft snow for a little boot-ski action before we headed up the slope that followed, which is the first of two that must be ascended to reach the summit of Eva.

Here's the second one, which is much less steep.

Just below the summit, we checked out the exterior of an old building, a giant propeller, and a fallen tower of some sort. From the summit, views are pretty nice.

Old building and tower

I love you, Mary Jane

Parry and Bancroft

Some high cold mountain chain

Despite the wind and (potentially) troubling clouds in the distance, we took some time for a little monkey business before heading back toward Berthoud and some Avery IPAs.



The return trip toward Flora was perhaps the toughest part of the day

Since we intended to sidehill and avoid the top of this ridge, we headed right of the snow, and (as noted in other reports) this slope is pretty darn steep, especially in the latter half of an early season hike. The wind had picked up considerably but couldn't make up its mind"it was both friend and foe as it alternately pushed us up and back down the hill. It was blowing strange... However, it never ceases to amaze me that the number of photo ops of little things (like wildflowers, vividly colored rocks, etc.) increases in proportion to how hard I'm breathing or how much my legs burn. There were no roses to stop and smell, but plant life is making its return to the tundra.



Looking back toward Eva & Parry


The more rugged face of Colorado Mines Peak

Sitting back at 11,300ft, I looked out at the mountains and valley before me, took a sip of my IPA, and realized that days like this are exactly why living in Colorado is the bomb.

For people who don't live here and/or who are looking for an ideal acclimation hike, this one should be near the top of the list.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Comments or Questions
Nice above treeline hike Matt
06/10/2010 16:06
Being a nomad above treeline for the day is fun, I can see why you enjoyed this day. Way to straddle the CD and get some sick cloud inversion shots over Winter Park, but I‘m still trying to figure out where all this snow you speak of is. Other than that side of Flora, it looks similar to other parts of the state.

I learned more on Colorado Mines Peak than any other mountain in Colorado, as well as an inside look at what they teach you in the Michigan University MBA program. First, when visiting a state for the first time in winter, be sure to begin your hike after the sun has gone down and more importantly, disregard any maps or GPS system. Second, when your cold and worried buddy decides to turn around, push on and let him know you‘ll meet up with him later, despite having no headlamp, goretex footwear, gaitors or having any idea where you are. Third, and this is probably the most important. When lost, don‘t worry about the obvious lights of the Berthoud Pass parking lot or any of the cars driving up and down rt.40. Instead, fumble around in the dark and climb a f**king tree to stay warm. Maybe they should teach these Business school grads some basic survival skills.

Nice tundra tromp
06/10/2010 17:19
Looks like a nice day hike. Good job or the rreport.
It‘s cool when you can experience the ”above the clouds” moments like that, huh? Like the cornice shots....good reminder to us all to be careful. Loved you irradiated line! Were you glowing so it was time to move on?
I considered this very hike this past winter. Would this be a good couple of off-season peaks for like December?

Britt ... Winter ...
06/10/2010 18:00
Yes, that does make a good winter trek that we‘ve done many times before. Descending down Flora to Eva (and if you elect, as we have a few times, descending Eva to Parry) can collect some interesting snow (i.e., steep drifting bordering on cornices) ... you‘ll want your axe.

Poaching Our Peaks???
06/10/2010 20:31
So how can I expect to accomplish anything in the San Juans this summer if you are not down there to provide your usual stellar beta? Nice work, buddy. Those low flying cloud shots look mystifying.

Moon Tower
06/10/2010 20:32
Matt - Nice report on some peaks I‘ve been meaning to check out for a while now. Those structures on the summit of Mines look an awful lot like the Moon Tower of certain cinematic fame.

PS: Good to see your real photo back in your avatar.

Maxxed out?
06/10/2010 21:35
You claim max skill level of low class 5... and yet you‘re doing some primo 5.12 to 5.14 upside down moves on the dreaded ”Twisted Tower” route!! Nice job!

06/11/2010 00:12
”give Mines the shaft”

I hope that‘s meant to be funny, because it is.

del norte
06/11/2010 14:23
amy and i were just saying the other day that you are known to us now as del norte. in either case, good to see you enjoying the options up north, and even better to see your old avatar make a reappearance And 13ers beat me to his comment.

Alpine Spring Beauty
06/11/2010 21:09
I think that first flower is the Alpine Spring Beauty. A Beauty indeed!

Boy! Man! God!
06/14/2010 23:06

Ahhh ....
11/30/2010 17:28
Yup, that's a good spring climb combination ... thanks for posting. Really liked the monkey business (and the flora on Flora). Happy trails!

01/19/2011 03:38
Brian, the snow was all on the other side, per Avs88fan, ”After a an absolute miserable endeavor of waste(sic) deep snow.” As far as our hike, ”Nothing to ski here.”
Britt--Irradiated? I was beginning to feel like David Banner. I think these are peaks for all seasons, including winter. Not for bragging rights, but for the pure pleasure of being up there.
Presto--”the flora on Flora?” I wish I‘d thought of that.

del norte
01/19/2011 03:38
Scott, as long as it‘s pronounced the New Mexican way, so be it!
13ers, I‘m glad you got a laugh, thanks.
Wooderson, we met some fine freshman girls up there. They were asking about you. You love those redheads, right?
JJ, thanks. Pray for conference justice.
Paps, you‘re rolling along quite well this year-cough-Thunder Pyramid-cough...

Nice shots Matt
05/02/2011 14:23
I was up on Mines pk round midnight one evening this past winter with bean and lordhelmut. Couldn‘t see much but I remember thinking there might be some large cornices just east of the summit. Your pictures sure make me glad we didn‘t venture much past the radio equipment!

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