Sunday, July 8, 2012

South Arapahoe Peak

June 2, 2012 - South Arapahoe Peak, 13,397' 

The Fourth of July trailhead was empty at 5.45am and it was a cool 48 degrees just before dawn. Olivia (Livvy, the youngest of our 4 Borzoi) was eager to get going. I packed a light running sac with some dog biscuits (I have strange tastes), water and a light fleece, slipped on my trusty Walshes ( and started a slow jog away from the trailhead.

The sun was already high as we broke through the treeline and we emerged on the plateau to warmth and clear skies.

Mount Neva (12,814') is in the center of this shot with an unnamed peak (12,923') top left above the hidden Upper Diamond Lake. You can just make out Arapahoe Pass trail on the extreme right heading up towards the Continental Divide above Lake Dorothy. We'd be turning off this trail to the right for the ascent of S. Arapahoe.

A trio of alpine Marmots kept Livvy alert and interested as we slogged up the rough trail. This section is more runnable than it looks and apart from some thick ice in the Krummholz we made very quick progress.

The first view of South Arapahoe was just round the corner and we stopped for great views all round.

This is a great view (to the South East) of Diamond Lake with a fair amount of late season snow lingering...although nowhere near as much as this time last year. The north side of Devil's Thumb Peak is just off the photo to the right. The Diamond Lake loop from Hessie was the very first run I did with Livvy as a pup last year and she has gone from strength to strength.

It's a steep and rocky pull to the summit and we were able to avoid most of the snow. I seemed to find a better track to the summit than when I ran this last year with Otto. We kept close to the East edge and trended left at each step as we gained height. Last year I traversed West too low and found myself scrambling up loose couloirs. The air gets thin above 13,000' and we took our time up this section. There was not a soul in sight.

There are spectacular views back East to the plains from the summit. It was a little windy and cool but this is a great place to be at 7.30am on a Sunday morning. Livvy ate a handful of dogbiscuits and then licked my face - it could have been worse.

Looking North, N. Arapahoe Peak is in the left foreground and there is a distant view of Long's Peak and Mount Meeker just left of center.

Those Marmots were just way too interesting and their constant calling was a distraction on the descent. Although Livvy looks to be staring them down she's actually imagining two slices of bread wrapped around one of them.

The stream was too tempting for Livvy to resist and with the heat increasing she took her break in style framed by the col west of S. Arapahoe Peak. As we rejoined the main trail we met our first hikers of the day and we didn't look in too bad a shape.

This is looking west to the Divide.

We were left with the short 2 mile jog back to the trailhead. What a perfect early June morning.

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