I recently asked this forum soliciting beta for Mt Humphreys. I had a go at it yesterday with a friend of mine. Heâ€™s summited every 14er AND 13er in Colorado, so he was a good buddy to climb with. We left with a rope, anticipating that weâ€™d find a rap station at the top. But, I never rappelled off a cliff, so weâ€™d see if Iâ€™d just feel more comfortable downclimbing that. I didnâ€™t bring climbing shoes.
We left at 6:30 am from North Lakes trailhead. Itâ€™s an extra 20 min walk to the actual trail since you canâ€™t park your car up there. The approach was long, but nice. After Piute Pass you essentially take a hard right up a hill and itâ€™s very easy cross country travel. There was an unmarked trail which basically led to a long grassy tundra region leading you to the face of the mountain. We were anticipating boulder hopping, but it was like a carpet.
After this, long story short, we followed Bob Burdâ€™s excellent trip report for the route finding up the face. We had a picture of what chute to take up, and it wasnâ€™t the obvious one in middle. It was to the left and it led to the right. We took a class 2/3 ramp to the right of this chockstone blocking the main chute a third of the way up the chute. Thereâ€™s some crains there which lead you to this yellow sandy region. Then you take a left up some loose screw to the final climb. Iâ€™m not being too detailed here because Bob did a much better job.
Well now for the climb. The â€œclass 3â€ section was straightforward but not easy. Itâ€™s a crack system which lead you to the top of a rap station, and I took the wrong one. I veered to much to the left, and had to traverse to the right to find my partner no more than 20 ft away. Itâ€™s not easy to traverse to do this midway up since the holds arenâ€™t the best. I basically got to the top of my crack, and found an easy way to the right to find my partner. We were at the top of the first rap station, which was a reminder that this class 3 isnâ€™t trivial.
Now we had to make our way to notch. The traverse over this flake area to the notch is described as class 4 according to Bob. The holds really aren't great, and there is a lot of friction involved. But, itâ€™s not hard either. I actually found it easier than the class 3 part going up. The exposure isnâ€™t bad.
Weâ€™re now at the top of the notch and have no clue what to do. Nothing goes. Everything seems cliffed up. We look around and the only way up is up this 10 ft fin which led to yet another crack. We went up and down this 10 ft literally three times. Another trip report I found described that it felt like a bouldering problem. It was hard to do it with the bag with the rope. My buddy went up and found the right crack to the easy terrain to the summit. He looked around for another rap station and couldnâ€™t find it. I then went up to the top of the fin and went inside the crack. This definitely goes. But I have to stomach what looks like a 400 ft drop. I make literally 2 moves up the crack and Iâ€™m basically vertical hanging on the side of the face. My buddy is looking at me, seeing what Iâ€™m going to do.
Iâ€™m in that position for a while trying to find another rappel station. We find a ring in the rock, but it doesnâ€™t have slings. Weâ€™re now worried that this is the second rap station but it doesnâ€™t have protection. I brought webbing just in case, but we donâ€™t have the time to build an anchor. I couldnâ€™t see the second rap station, but weâ€™re 90% sure itâ€™s there above us where we canâ€™t see it. Do we want to take that 10% risk and downclimb? Even if we brought the rope, it didnâ€™t really matter since my friend didnâ€™t feel comfortable with me rappelling up here for the first time. I donâ€™t have shoes for the downclimb.
Iâ€™m less than 90 ft from the summit. I can see it. 2 more moves up and out of this crack, and Iâ€™m on easy terrain. But I keep thinking about the downclimb. Itâ€™s been 10 minutes of me hanging in the crack now, and Iâ€™m beginning to get tired. Iâ€™m more comfortable with the exposure, but one wrong move on the down climb and Iâ€™m done. I came straight from sea level, and I know making a mistake isnâ€™t out of the question.
We turn around.
We went through all that work and basically went past the hardest section. We couldâ€™ve been on the summit in 10 minutes since the climbing was easy. But the downclimb was enough of a risk to say no. There goes an Emblem Peak.
My buddy had been thinking about Humphreys for 2 years now, and I definitely felt like I held him back. He told me it was more sketchier than he had anticipated, and itâ€™s not a guarantee that even he wouldâ€™ve gone forward. But no point in the â€œcoulda shoulda wouldasâ€. Call it a calculated decision, or call it me wussing out. Humphreys will be here for another day.
Now itâ€™s time for me to do Mid pal tomorrow.