June 14, 2003
This would be my first 14er hike of the summer. I figured enough snow had melted in the high country to go ahead and attempt Huron Peak. We left Boulder around 4 p.m. and made good time up to the trailhead. The 4wd section of the road was a little worse than I expected but the 4runner easily navigated all obstacles. We arrived at the trailhead around 7 p.m. with a nice view of Granite Mountain shown below.
We ate dinner, piled everything in the front seats and set up camp in back of the 4runner. We retired early and the night didn't get too cold. The alarm sounded at 5:30 and after a quick breakfast we were hiking a little after 6 a.m. Roach's book notes that the CFI trail departs the road after about 100 yards past the gate. They must have moved the gate because we couldn't find the trail anywhere. We decided we would just proceed down the road and climb Huron Peak from the southwest slopes instead of the northwest. We entered the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and after about 1.4 miles came to the old townsite of Hamilton. We had some nice views of the Three Apostles shown below.
There's a fork in the trail and the path heads left instead of right to Lake Ann. The trail begins to steeply climb the forest and becomes hard to follow in several spots. Losing the trail near the bank of a stream we checked the topo and knew not to cross the stream. Backtracking a little bit we found the trail again and proceeded onward and upward. The trail passes an old mining structure and then becomes non-existent at about 12,000 feet. From here you climb 2000 feet in .7 miles on route to Huron's summit. The photo below was taken from where the trail ends.
The route from this point is basically a Choose Your Own Adventure finding the path of least resistance through the boulders as the slope becomes increasingly steeper. We started out in high spirits charging up the slopes. After an hour or more scrambling up the slopes we realized this was going to be a real chore. The photo below is Amy making her way up the hillside and gives a perspective of how steep this route is.
We could use the Apostles to judge our elevation and it seemed like we weren't gaining elevation very quickly. We finally gained a ridge and could see how much more we still had to climb. It was a bit discouraging but we kept plugging onward and upward.
In several sections it was easier to stay on the boulders and other sections we thought it was easier to climb up the snow. The route was relatively free of snow and the snow could have been avoided if desired.
Finally gaining the southwest ridge, it was a very short walk to the summit. We arrived at the summit at about 9:40 a.m. bringing our ascent time to about 3.5 hours. We had the summit to ourselves and the views were astounding in all directions. The Three Apostles to the south were incredible and many of the Sawatch 14ers could be seen.
We looked around for the summit register but couldn't find it anywhere, might have still been buried under snow. We donned our wind proctection and hunkered down behind a windbreak and had some lunch. We stayed on the summit about 30 minutes estactic that we survived the horrendous ascent. We decided to descend the northwest slope and see if that would have been a better route.
We found the CFI trail easy enough and began our descent. The trail was easy to follow and was quite a joy to walk on compared to our experience on the other side of the mountain. About midway down we came to some snowfields that allowed us to glissade and have a little fun on the descent. The photo below shows the northwest slope of Huron Peak and this is the preferred route for sure. Once again the snow could have been avoided for the most part if desired.
We were dropping elevation quickly and the valley was getting ever closer. We were curious to see where the CFI trail joined the forest service road and how we could have missed the trail. Once we returned to the trailhead we realized the trail leaves the road right before the forest service gate(shown below), not further down the trail as Roach had noted in his book. In all fairness to Roach, the forest service probably moved the gate further back from the time his guidebook was published.
We arrived back at the trailhead about 11:45 bringing our hiking time to about 6 hours. It was nice to relax and have some lunch before departing back down the 4wd road. It was off to La Plata Peak. Unless you really want to punish yourself, I definitely don't recommend the route we took to the summit. The CFI trail up the northwest slopes is a much easier route.