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Colorado Mines Peak

September 29, 1996
Arapaho National Forest
Starting Elevation:
11,315 feet
Highest Elevation:
12,493 feet
Distance (round trip):
~ 2 miles ?
Although I have included this peak in my list it hardly qualifies as an actual hike for many reasons. I chose to do this summit because I was fighting a terrible cold but did not want to miss out on one of the last beautiful days of autumn. It had snowed in the high country the previous week and I had my suspicions that this might be one of the few summits still accessible to hikers - I was right - sort of.

I began my hike at the summit of Berthoud Pass on US Hwy. 40. There were several cars with sightseers at the parking lot and I was surprised to find several snowboarders attempting to make the best of the new but twice-frozen snow. Because the snow had been through several freeze/thaw cycles I was able to stay on top of the crust as I began my climb. After an elevation gain of several hundred feet (directly east of the parking lot), I came across a road that service vehicles use for maintenance of the microwave towers and structures on top of this peak. I followed this road until I was above tree line. The prior snows here had been swept off the hillside by the prevailing westerly winds or had melted due to the southern and western exposures. This made my ascent easy as I was trying not to push myself while fighting my terrible head cold. My route along the road traversed the mountain to the south with one major switch-back to the north and another minor switch-back south again to the summit.

It only took about an hour to climb the 1000 feet or so from the parking lot and on top I was not surprised to find a half-dozen or so microwave communications structures. Immediately to my north I saw the top of the Vasquez Peak lift (at Winter Park Ski Area) and I was able to (visually) follow the Continental Divide to the west. Far to my east I could see a flat horizon which is the plains of eastern Colorado. My descent was quick as I followed the fall line (straight down the mountain) all of the way back to the car.
Along on this hike with me: no one.