North Ridge of Spearhead

After 3 days of driving a total of 2,000 miles from Boston to Boulder, I was quite looking forward to getting my butt kicked on one of the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Christie and I chose the North Ridge of Spearhead as our first climb, I wanted to start easy and relatively low (12,575′) because I take a bit of time to acclimatize. We got to Glacier Gorge Trailhead at 10pm and napped until my alarm woke us at 2:30am. I made some coffee at the car as two friends pulled in who were going to do the route with us as well. We were all off at 3am sharp.

Sunrise and taking a picture of what I thought was Spearhead. About 5 minutes later, I realize it is way to the left and not even close to whatever this was.

The approach is about 6 miles and pretty straightforward. We were able to put away the headlamps around 5:30 and arrived at the base of the climb at 6:30, 3.5 hours since we left the van.

Christie approaching Spearhead. We are climbing the North Ridge.
Andy and Dan getting ready to start off.

The morning started off pretty chilly and I did not enjoy putting on my climbing shoes but once we got going and the sun peaked over the ridge line, we put away the puffys and enjoyed the heat from the sun. Christie and I swung leads for the first two pitches and as the climbing dropped to easy fifth class, we started to simul.

A sea of rock.

We all reached the summit at around 9:30am and sat on the summit block, stuffing down food and water.

Chilling on the summit blocks. Photo by Andy.


A view of where we came from, way back there.

Unfortunately, it was about this time that the altitude started to kick in. For me, the symptoms are usually just a painful headache, with the only remedy being to get lower in elevation. We started the long slog back to the van and at around noon, it started to pour on us, just like the forecast said it would. We hiked the rest of the way out in the rain and as soon as I got back to the van at 1:30pm I stripped off all my wet clothes and crawled into my bed to sleep off this damn headache. Pretty sweet day!

Coming off the mountain as storm clouds roll in behind us, eventually catching us.

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