Much to our surprise, we came upon our first person of the day relaxing on some talus before we hit Jagor Point. She said she'd intended to go as far as Cracktop, but felt ill so turned back. At least someone got up earlier than us!
waterfall exiting from Arrowhead Lake, the Bighorn I'd see above Inkwell Lake, the erratic, the rainbow cloud, getting back to the truck late, and seeing the sun both rise and set in the same day. The memories of a friend, the memories of my own battle with cancer.
The loss and gain went uneventfully, and we soon found ourselves on Chief Cheley Peak.
more melted last year. I can now tell you the easiest way to get to this lake is to drop down the 3rd class ridge from Chief Cheley Peak. That will certainly be alot less difficult than making your way here from Rock Cut or Forest Canyon Overlook. This lake was the place where I said a few words in memory of Liberty last year.
Inkwell Lake and Arrowhead Lake from the ridge. Inkwell Lake was so crazily blue it was hard to comprehend.
The next major difficulty of the day lie ahead of us when we topped out on Cracktop. We faced around 300 feet of elevation loss on third class terrain, followed by 500+ feet of gain on second class talus to get to the summit of Mount Julian. This proved to be one of the most fun and interesting parts of the day for both of us.
Looking at the ridge, we decided to stay on the top as we could, and find our way through a fractured system of ledges and gullies on the climbers right or south side of the ridge.
This proved to be a fun exercise as these things often are. This was third class by the path of least resistance, but up to fifth if a more direct route was taken. Some breathtaking exposure here and there kept it interesting.
As Dan said, this is not beginner third class. Alot of route finding was needed and the difficulty was rather sustained the whole way through. Longs Peak via the Keyhole may become the comparison I'll use the most, but that is blazed the entire way, with a definitive crux in the chock stone at the top of the Trough.
Azure Lake, Inkwell Lake, and Arrowhead Lake.
There was a small cairn on top of Mount Julian, though the register (the only one we'd find this day) actually lie in a crack below the true high point. As you may surmise, this peak doesn't see many summits- probably in the 10-15 a year range. One of my favorite, perhaps all time favorite, register comments was found here- #SWAG from a girl who'd summitted with a large group two years ago. I left my usual name, city, blog address (thanks for visiting if you happened to see it), and a nice message for Liberty.
We wound our way though second class talus and the webs of those nightmarish looking alpine spiders to make our way up the last few hundred feet to the summit of Terra Tomah Mountain. While it looks pretty spectacular and daunting when viewed from the north east, from this side it is nothing more than a gentle hill covered in grass and a ton of Alpine Sunflowers.
As we hiked over the day we'd talked about this, and I named two days in particular when I got very close to my breaking point. And I remember very vividly having to sit down, feeling my muscles trying to jump through my skin as I did, giving myself the 'you can do this' talk. Taking on a bunch of food and water to make sure I'd have the energy. Counting steps on the way down. I kept getting startled by people standing along the trail, only to look and find out it was a tree or rock and wondering, while my heart was pounding, how I could have mistaken a tree for a person.
Longs Peak, Pagoda, Chiefs Head, McHenrys...
Going back up over third class to Cracktop proved to be quite fun once again. There was one place where we went around on the way down because we couldn't see what lie below us. Now I was able to see it and it looked like it would go. In the end, I found myself doing a body jam in a chimney while applying a finger lock to a crack. In short, this was fifth class climbing, and it would have been easier and quicker to just go down the gulley and back up.