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Our fifth and last day together in Colorado's Sawatch Range was more a driving exercise than a hiking/climbing one. At 14,269ft, Mt. Antero is Colorado's 11th highest peak. With the right vehicle, it is one of the easiest to climb, perhaps only surpassed by Mt. Evans and Pikes Peak. Leroy was doing better after a rest day, but he was hardly up for a more serious climb, so Mt. Antero fit the bill nicely. We'd read lots of reports that described the 4WD road on Antero as everything from difficult to horrendous. The 7mi road starts from County Road 162 and Chalk Creek to the north and is rocky and rough right from the start - perhaps intentionally so to give one an idea of what to expect in the worst stretches. It climbs south up Baldwin Gulch before beginning a series of sharp switchbacks above treeline on Antero's SW Slopes. We managed to drive the road to its end above 13,700ft, less than half a mile from the summit and little more than 400ft of gain. The road was not as bad as some reports indicated, perhaps because some work has been done this season by the 4WD club that maintains it, clearing some avalanche and flood damage. We used 4-Low but didn't use lockers. We drove fairly slowly, taking about an hour and a half to reach the end of the road. We saw only a few other vehicle on the road all day and had no trouble finding room to allow passing.
Leroy was thrilled to be able to drive most of the way to summit and was a good sport for the 30min it took us to climb to the summit. The South Ridge we followed had decent trails to take the tediousness out of what would otherwise be a rubble pile. There were two other parties that had reached the summit before us, obviously starting from much further down the mountain since ours was the only vehicle at the end of the road. One party was still at the summit when we arrived and we helped each other with a few photographs. The views from the summit are quite stunning, including the best view we'd seen yet of the wide Arkansas River Valley to the east. Mt. Princeton rises dramatically to the north while Tabeguache and Shavano command the view to the south. Looking west, one sees the Baldwin Lake drainage stretched out, with the 13,500-foot Boulder Mtn behind it. Our return was much the same route, using the gentler trail off the ridgeline with a single switchback.
Our Mt. Antero outing took less than an hour and a half, getting us back to the jeep by 9:30a. To the south we noted another 4WD road climbing most of the way up Mt. White, an easy bonus peak made easier with the jeep. We drove to the top of the road on Mt. White's west shoulder at 13,200ft. This time we left Leroy in the jeep since there was no road and he looked liked he'd rather rest than join us. There was another vehicle parked nearby, a lone gentleman out scouting for hunting season which he told us started the next day. Luckily it's only archery season opening, so we shouldn't have the usual crowds that rifle season draws. There is no trail to Mt. White, just a rock slog that takes about 20min to reach the 13,667-foot summit. There are two closely-spaced summits, with the east summit appearing to be about 2ft higher. There is a superb view of Tabeguache/Shavano to the south across Browns Peak, and a drab-gray one of Antero to the north. We were back by 10:40a, Leroy not seeming to have missed us much.
Cronin Peak, also known as North Carbonate, lies 2.4mi west of Mt. White. It is a Colorado Centenial and a P1K. Another 4WD road branch drops to Browns Creek and comes within 3/4mi of Cronin Peak. There is a spur road that climbs up to the base of the SE Ridge, though there is a gate and No Trespassing sign before the end of the road due to a mining claim. We parked here, Eric choosing to stay with Leroy in the warm sun and read his book while I went off to claim the summit. There are a few grassy sections on the ridge that make for easier hiking, but most of it is a rubble pile. There is what may seem like a use trail through the rock in places, but I don't think it does much to aid the ascent. It took me 40min to reach the top where a rock windbreak is found and a CMC register in a PVC tube. Much of it was in poor condition, looking to have been chewed on by hungry pikas. Good views, though. I was back just after 12:15p and it time to call it a day. We would spend another hour and a half driving back down the 7 miles of road, then find a place to shower and have a late lunch in Buena Vista. Leroy needed more time to recover so he and Eric decided to leave a day earlier than planned, heading back to New Mexico. I would see Eric again in Telluride in less than a week, but probably not see Leroy until next year...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Antero - Mt. White - Cronin Peak
This page last updated: Fri Aug 30 16:34:50 2019
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