Local Exploration: Baldy Peak Summit

A couple of weeks ago, Sprocket and I went for a hike on the slopes of Baldy Peak. We didn’t reach the summit as a result of a late start and insufficient calorie consumption by the biped of the duo…

Baldy Peak from Ridgway:

Baldy Peak from Ridgway

As is usual for me, not reaching the summit only fueled my desire to get there especially since it is visible from town. Valentine’s Day morning, I asked a friend to drop me off at the end of County Road 14 and started the hike. Looking north, I could see dawn on Horsefly Peak and still twilight shrouded valley south of Ridgway.

Ridgway Valley in shadow

A lot of snow had melted between our attempt two weeks earlier and this one. There was no bare ground visible here last time:

Near Baldy Peak trailhead

Instead of sticking to the snowcovered trail, Sprocket and I forged a path upwards to the ridge through the scrub oak. I kept heading up and to the northeast and ended up with a route that was fairly direct.

Selfie on the slopes of Baldy Peak

Selfie with Sprocket

We paused for me to take off a layer and to watch the sunrise over the hill across the small drainage:

Sunrise over Corbett Creek

Once we attained the ridge we began working our way north towards Baldy. The ridge was snow covered in places and bare in others. I did a lot of taking my snowshoes off and putting them back on as we headed for the summit.

Sprocket looking at Baldy Peak

Sprocket on Baldy Peak

It was another beautiful bluebird day. I sat on the top and contemplated the mountains surrounding me and was pretty content.

Views from Baldy Peak

Sprocket and I headed off Baldy’s west ridge and began traversing north towards an abandoned road. There was a lot of bushwacking through deep snow—Sprocket was one tired puppy when we got done.

Snowshoes

Muddy equipment

The snow was really wet and as I walked down the escarpment towards Highway 550, I was soaked, muddy, and quite pleased with my hike.

Panorama from Baldy Peak

Local Exploration: Baldy Peak Hike

A few weeks ago, Sprocket and I set out on a gorgeous afternoon to hike Baldy Peak. Baldy sits just southeast of Ridgway and I’ve been noticing that the southern slopes seemed very free of snow and it was just begging to be climbed. We started our hike from the end of County Road 14 where we were treated to great views of Mt. Corbett to the west. We got a late start at 11am so I wasn’t sure if we’d summit but that’s the bonus of being close to home—it’s always easy to come back later!

Mt. Corbett

County Road 14

At the end of the County Road, I drove just too far on the snow and got the Jeep stuck. I thought about airing down and attempting to extricate it but the snow was fluffy and cold so I decided to hike first and worry about the extrication when I got back down. I was fairly sure I wouldn’t need snowshoes so I left them in the car and set off for the Baldy Trailhead which was about 3/4 of a mile down a snowcovered road. (On the ridgetop leaving the snowshoes behind turned out to be a mistake…)

Baldy Trailhead

It was a long slog up the hill. I tried to follow the trail instead of simply pushing straight up the scrub oak covered hill and in a lot of places its in a narrow trough that would have made using snowshoes sort of difficult.

 

Cutler Creek valley

Cutler Creek Valley

San Juans

Sprocket on Baldy

Once we finally attained the ridge, I was really sad I didn’t have my snowshoes. I was getting tired and it was already 2pm. (I should have probably eaten something real before I embarked on a six mile snow-slog as well. My Luna bars weren’t making a dent in my hunger…). We called it a day about a mile from the summit.

I have no complaints though—I get to call this place home:

Baldy Panorama

Back at the Jeep, I aired down the tires to about 15psi which is usually enough to walk right out of a situation (especially when you didn’t panic and bury your tires, which I didn’t). It didn’t work. I aired them down to 10psi. And then, I had to stop, sit, and think so I didn’t start panicing. It really was not a big deal. We could easily walk out, hitchhike home, and find a friend with 4-wheel drive to pull us out but I hate asking for help like that. (Also, normally I have a winch but I’d taken it off so I could sell the jeep…) I got to thinking. It was mostly my rear tires that seemed to be spinning. So I started brainstorming ways to add traction. Eventually, I emptied my pack, shoved it under one of the rear wheels and was able to back out (with some creative steering).

Getting jeep unstuck