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Mt Humphreys Update #59050 07/16/2021 8:36 PM
by climby_climber
I recently asked this forum soliciting beta for Mt Humphreys. I had a go at it yesterday with a friend of mine. He’s summited every 14er AND 13er in Colorado, so he was a good buddy to climb with. We left with a rope, anticipating that we’d find a rap station at the top. But, I never rappelled off a cliff, so we’d see if I’d just feel more comfortable downclimbing that. I didn’t bring climbing shoes.

We left at 6:30 am from North Lakes trailhead. It’s an extra 20 min walk to the actual trail since you can’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 it’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 Burd’s excellent trip report for the route finding up the face. We had a picture of what chute to take up, and it wasn’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. There’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. I’m not being too detailed here because Bob did a much better job.

Well now for the climb. The “class 3” section was straightforward but not easy. It’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. It’s not easy to traverse to do this midway up since the holds aren’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 isn’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, it’s not hard either. I actually found it easier than the class 3 part going up. The exposure isn’t bad.

We’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 couldn’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 I’m basically vertical hanging on the side of the face. My buddy is looking at me, seeing what I’m going to do.

I’m in that position for a while trying to find another rappel station. We find a ring in the rock, but it doesn’t have slings. We’re now worried that this is the second rap station but it doesn’t have protection. I brought webbing just in case, but we don’t have the time to build an anchor. I couldn’t see the second rap station, but we’re 90% sure it’s there above us where we can’t see it. Do we want to take that 10% risk and downclimb? Even if we brought the rope, it didn’t really matter since my friend didn’t feel comfortable with me rappelling up here for the first time. I don’t have shoes for the downclimb.

I’m less than 90 ft from the summit. I can see it. 2 more moves up and out of this crack, and I’m on easy terrain. But I keep thinking about the downclimb. It’s been 10 minutes of me hanging in the crack now, and I’m beginning to get tired. I’m more comfortable with the exposure, but one wrong move on the down climb and I’m done. I came straight from sea level, and I know making a mistake isn’t out of the question.

We turn around.

We went through all that work and basically went past the hardest section. We could’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 it’s not a guarantee that even he would’ve gone forward. But no point in the “coulda shoulda wouldas”. Call it a calculated decision, or call it me wussing out. Humphreys will be here for another day.

Now it’s time for me to do Mid pal tomorrow.
Liked Replies
Re: Mt Humphreys Update #59067 Jul 18th a 11:08 PM
by SoCal Jim
SoCal Jim
I strongly second Bob's opinion on Anton's posts. I've been holding fire on commenting, but this is not the first time that I've noticed that Anton sometimes comes across as a condescending know-it-all. The most knowledgable and experienced outdoorsmen/women tend to be cautious with their words and slow to criticize... (see Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin...) which is a good policy in general. We were all young and dumb once.
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Re: Mt Humphreys Update #59066 Jul 18th a 09:56 PM
by bobpickering
Ben: I mentioned the June 20 Humphreys trip to you in an earlier email, but you didn’t take the bait. I figured that the exposure and the long drive were the reasons. When a guy I met on Thunderbolt in 1990 heard about Humphreys, he said his wife had wanted to climb it. I’m 72, and I wasn’t planning to do it again. However, I’m tempted to bring a rope and do it one more time for her. If it happens (and that’s a huge IF), you’re in!

Anton: Yes, I’m 100% sure. I have no tolerance for people that can’t post constructive criticism without being a jerk about it. I do agree with your points. I even began one paragraph with “As Anton said…” Trying to make others look stupid diminishes the impact of your completely valid points. Nobody is going to listen to you when you say they are an accident waiting to happen or that they are clueless about technical climbing. You can offer advice without being a jerk about it. I’m sorry that you disagree with me on that point.
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Re: Mt Humphreys Update #59053 Jul 17th a 03:45 AM
by climby_climber

I agree that Humphreys isn’t the place to rappel for the first time. That’s why the plan became to just down climb it. We brought the rope in case we cliffed ourselves somewhere unexpected and went off route. It was for the case that things went so far south that rappelling became the only option. It never was. The routefinding actually went phenomenally well since we had the pictures from Burd’s report.

I just want to clarify that I know what a class 4 means. It’s no joke, and it can cost you your life. I understand that. The climb was pretty straightforward, but the idea of the downclimb is what made me turn around. Not having rock shoes and coming straight from sea level also factored into my decision on how safe a down climb really was for me.

The purpose of me writing this was just to give others some perspective of what Humphreys was like for me. A lot of other trip reports come from experienced legends, and it’s hard to find reports of clowns like me getting spooked smile
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