Never Summer Loop, Hitchens Gulch

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Gary Neben
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Never Summer Loop, Hitchens Gulch

Peaks: "Never Summer Peak" "Jiffy Pop Peak" "Cloudview Peak" 12438, Lead Mountain 12537, Hart Ridge 12500, "The Lone Ranger" 12098, Mount Cirrus 12797, Howard Mountain 12810

Dates: 09/06/2017

Post by Gary Neben » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:45 pm

Well now, that was interesting. I have a lot more respect for this area than I did before. The hike started out innocently enough, cruiser trails for Red Mountain Trail, the Ditch, and ending on Lake Of the Clouds Trail up Hitchens Gulch. “Man, I’m just flying up this thing, no problem hitting my targets today!” I thought happily to myself. :thumbup:

Getting up “Never Summer” was steep but nothing difficult. Then comes Lead’s E ridge. Foster (Rocky Mountain National Park Guide) calls it cl 3 but I could swear I was busting cl 4 in a few places (I stayed on the ridge the whole way). But the real issue for me is that it’s occasionally loose and long time-wise, although I really shouldn’t detract from its classic scrambling. No matter, I’m on Lead’s summit and, yeah, maybe it took longer than expected but I’m still good to go.

Hart Ridge becomes the deal breaker. :tongue: It is long with lots of boulder hopping. As my topo shows, I decide to get off the ridge to the nice looking grass below to get to The Lone Ranger, hoping to save elevation gain and some tediousness. However, it’s very loose boulder hopping on the way down. Once on the grassy area it’s a cruise up to Lone Ranger.

The ridge up Cirrus is steep and again, yes you guessed it, loose boulders. The ridge between Cirrus and Howard is much easier. Once on Howard I realize that all the loose, boulder terrain has devastated my time budget and there was no way I’d be running the ridge to Cumulus today.

Looking at the E ridge of Howard and the descent N to Lake of the Clouds (lots of more of the same up-and-down loose, boulder terrain coupled with at least cl 3) I decide to bushwhack the more palatable looking terrain past Pinnacle Pool directly back to the Ditch. (When I get home and look up the ridge and N descent, even Foster calls it “riddled with wobbly blocks and unstable talus, complete with ample exposure”.) :blink: While this undoubtedly saved me elevation and distance, there was still quite a bit of boulder hopping in this drainage.

Once again smoke from all the forest fires out west made taking photos challenging.
Start/End Loc: Colorado River TH, RMNP
Distance/Elevation: 19.6 miles RT/6988 feet elevation gain
Start/End/Elapsed: 7:09 AM/7:12 PM/12 hrs 3 mins
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Re: Never Summer Loop, Hitchens Gulch

Post by andrewrose » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:18 am

Yep. Every time I go there, time seems to evaporate. I thought that rock glacier/valley above Pinnacle Pool was super sketchy. I had a 15 foot diameter circle of loose rock(with me in the middle) shift and start to move downhill. And of course I could hear the stuff under that moving also. Fun fun!

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