Ok, I am sitting in my office on a Friday afternoon when three guys who work as scientists walk by and jokingly ask if I want to climb a mountain with them the next morning. I don’t even know these guys that well as I have only worked there about 45 days. I had already climbed Pikes Peak after being in Colorado only 3 weeks but had not done anything since then except for some local rock climbing. I said sure to see if they were serious and they offer a real invitation.
I meet them in Woodland Park at 5:00am the next morning at the Donut Mill and learn that we are going to climb Antero, a Colorado 14er. We reach the base of the 4 WD road at about 8:00am where I meet another person who works with my foursome, Denise. (She later becomes my climbing partner and good friend) I also have the opportunity to meet her husband Dan who plans on fishing rather than climbing but he leads us up the rough 4wd road in his Pathfinder. We follow in Dave’s Pathfinder. This is my first introduction to Colorado 4wd driving and I find it eye watering! We stop at the creek crossing up in Baldwin Gulch and start off up the road on foot. My cycling conditioning has been a real boon to me at altitude; I felt fine on Pikes Peak and feel fine today. All we do is follow the road up and it is somewhat depressing when two trucks pass us going up the road. As the road switchbacks up, Denise thinks it would be a good idea to head directly up the talus slope… so up half the group goes and the other half stay with the road.
The talus is very tiring and frustrating but we make the saddle first and find shelter in the rocks from the wind to wait for the others. Unfortunately they are now a bit behind as they left the road also but got slightly off track. Denise and I eat a snack, donned our jackets, and decide we will start ahead on the narrow connecting ridge to the final summit cone. The ridge looks awesome from the saddle with my limited experience, but we find it easy with a trail in most places.
She leads, and I follow up the talus slope to the small summit. It is a glorious day and we relax on the summit for about 45 mins, while other come up. All of our party makes it up plus about 5 others…
I am amazed by all of the people climbing this mountain that to me is in the middle of nowhere. I am still naive of the mad 14er urge at this point.
We head down and get back to the saddle where Denise remarks that it would be easier to go down the scree slope then backtrack on the road. Again, the group splits and soon I headed down a scree slope for the first time trying to keep up with Denise – impossible. Halfway down, as I am falling to my left, I stick my hand out right into a large star shaped sticker bush. I spend the rest of the descent picking out the stickers. We reach the trucks about 10 mins before the road walkers do; not much justice. Denise and I head down the road as we have too many people for the single Pathfinder now and make it about 3 miles before Dave catches up with us as he is moving a lot faster going down that we went going up. We all pile in, make it to the trailhead and are soon on the way back to Colorado Springs. Two 14er’s in 30 days after only living in Colorado for 45 days – not bad, but still no plan in mind, just doing the social thing! A great group of office mates to experience Mt Antero with on a great fall day.
Beta: Baldwin Gulch Trail, 7 Miles, 3,300′ elevation gain, 7 hours