- Route: East Slopes
- Distance: ~4.0 miles
- Elevation Gain: ~2,400
- Start time: 7:00 AM
- Time: 2:46
- Climbers: Alan and Sandy
Mount Princeton dominates the skyline as you enter the Arkansas River Valley via US 285. Its bulk leaps off the valley floor with no help from foothills as it climbs to 14,197 feet.
Having spent the previous day on Maroon Peak, we knew that Princeton, with its road that can take an intrepid driver high onto the route, would be well suited for a pair of tired legs. There is space for two or three cars where the trail departs the road and the singletrack begins. This is not stated in most climbing literature, but saves one a lot of hiking on a sun soaked road. In the morning it is not a big deal, but kicking up clouds of dust at 11 AM while the back of your neck gets a lesson of the increased solar intensity at altitude is something I prefer to avoid.
We camped out at 11,500 and arose at 6 AM, which compared to what we have been doing as of late, felt like getting to work three hours late.
Sunrise from camp
Knowing it would be a quick effort and it was a bluebird morning we donned shorts. Paleness be damned, fellow climbers would get to see some gams! Ultimately, they seemed unimpressed. In another departure from the norm, I wore cotton. Outdoor wisdom indicates that cotton can result in spontaneous hypothermia, angina, getting jumped by pikas and erectile dysfunction, sometimes all at once. I barely survived.
I have a tendency for jackrabbit starts and then dial it back. Alan is more like a diesel in which he needs a little time to warm up, but then it is nothing but powerful output the rest of the day. Per the norm I came out of the gate quick and we made short work of the contour around the basin and climb to the ridge.
Head down, determined and luxuriating in cotton
Once we hit the ridge it turned to talus. At this point Alan was completely warmed up and he is nothing if not a mountain goat in this terrain. It was my turn to watch him disappear across the tundra.
See you at the summit
The summit was reached in 1:24, a clip that surprised us both, and it was empty. A rare treat on what is a popular climb.
19th 14er this year
Still catching my breath
Chips will now be mandatory summit food
A precarious cairn
Someone walked up on this picture being taken.Their only question…is the turn off for the trail up ahead?
Food consumption on the hike included potato chips and almonds and little else. While not ravenous pangs of hunger were in the mail. With a trip down US 285 in the near future, a stop at the Brown Burro in Fairplay was as assured as the pope wearing a funny hat or a bear shitting in the woods. Oh, and Fairplay is the home of South Park.
No shame, especially since we took a picture for four guys our age moments before.
The triple stack with fried eggs. The server warned Alan that the pancakes were big. Having hiked all morning he was tempted to order a double stack for shock value
Breakfast burrito washed down with a liter of typical diner coffee
Here comes some state-ism…Colorado is amazing. Over the course of a weekend we climbed a classic route, followed it with another 14er climb, passed through numerous small mountain towns, hit up two small breweries, napped off Independence Pass, lounged about a park and read to kill time, walked along the Arkansas River, hung out next to the Roaring Fork River, saw 5 porcupines, and had the pleasure of driving the length of South Park, which in the early summer afternoon is dotted with clouds and cows. If there is somewhere better to live I am not sure I would have the energy level to handle it.