Arapaho Peaks Picture Gallery
Click on the title for a full-sized picture.
The Approach
The approach hike took us from Junco Lake Trailhead over Caribou Pass to Lake Dorothy. Here we are approaching Caribou Pass at 11,800 feet.
Camp at Lake Dorothy
We made our camp at 12,061 feet, just west of Lake Dorothy. Mt. Neva and the remnant of the glacier that formed Lake Dorothy made a spectacular backdrop.
Our Objective
From our camp we could see our objective. South Arapaho is on the right at 13,397 feet. North Arapaho is to the left at 13,502 feet. The ridge running between them is one of the great classic traverses of the Colorado Rockies. The previous winter's snowpack was only 30% of normal, so by the time we arrived in August, there was no snow. The couloirs we had planned to climb were out of the question, so we opted for the route up the southeast ridge from the Arapaho Glacier Trail.
First Light
We started early on summit day, on the trail at 4:30. By first light we had reached Fourth of July Mine, some 700 feet below our campsite. Here we rested briefly and took on water--the last we would see until returning to this point late in the day.
By dawn we were well above treeline and approaching Glacier Point, a shallow saddle at the base of South Arapaho. On the other side of the pass was the grand Arapaho Glacier. There are some good pictures of the glacier on the Colorado 2002 picture gallery.
Climbing the South Peak
From the saddle ovelooking the Arapaho Glacier we climbed up the edge of the glacier-carved precipice towards the summit of South Arapaho. The climbing was not technically difficult but at 13,000 feet it took a lot of breathing!
Approaching the Summit
As we approached the summit of South Arapaho, we could see Lake Dorothy nestled at the foot of Mt Neva--a long way away, and far below us. With binoculars we could make out our brightly colored tents.
Arriving at the South Arapaho Peak
As we approached the top, South Arapaho threw a few false summit teasers at us, but finally we climbed up to the real thing.
Shelter at the Summit
Throughout our climb the weather was fantastically clear, with a brilliant blue sky--but a fierce, cold wind whipped at us constantly. A rock shelter at the south summit provided welcome relief.
The Arapaho Traverse
From the south summit, the ridge connecting to the north summit stretched before us. The total elevation gain along the ridge is relatively small, but three imposing gendarmes block the way. In order to complete the traverse we needed to find a way over or around each of them.
On the Traverse
After a brief rest at the South Summit, the traverse party suited up, packed the technical gear, and started out across the traverse. As we picked our way across the ridge, the wind threatened to blow us right off the mountain.
The Chimney
We found our way over the first gendarme by climbing this chimney up to a point near its peak and then working our way around the side. The second gendarme required a roped ascent right over the top, but in the wind we were too busy negotiating the climb to take any pictures!
Far out on the traverse, routefinding became more challenging. On the return we really wanted to avoid going over the top of the second gendarme, so we found a way far below on the west side of the ridge.
The "Summit"
Although we were very close to the actual summit of North Arapaho Peak, we decided to stop short. The wind was very fierce, altitude was taking its toll, and under the circumstances the technical challenges seemed too risky. So we declared this point the summit, celebrated our success, and headed back across the ridge to the South Peak to rejoin the members of the party waiting for us there.
A Long Way Home
After descending from the south peak, we still had a long way to go to get back to camp--and from Fourth of July Mine, it was uphill!.
A Last Rest Stop
The slog up to Arapaho Pass from Fourth of July Mine went slowly but steadily. Here we take a last rest stop before the final push into camp. The Arapaho Peaks and our route are in the background.
Lake Dorothy
After a good night's rest, we reluctantly left our beautiful campsite at Lake Dorothy and began our return to Junco Lake. On the way back we climbed Satanta Peak for a terrific view of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Ross Celebrates
Back at Stillwater, Ross celebrates a succesful climb.