Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mount Neva

The ridge line approaching Mount Neva from Caribou Pass to the north is a fun but tricky scramble. It's not a walk and it's not for walkers lacking a head for heights or who are overly intimidated by exposure. A good number who attempt the trip, I am led to believe, decide to turn back before or below the crux - a 40 foot high wall that leans towards a steep gully above Lake Dorothy. As a lifetime climber it would be all too easy for me to dismiss their concerns but, objectively, for non-climbers this is an intimidating place. Livvy was still carrying an injury from a few days ago so I was without a dog and this made the trip possible.

The sun rose as I approached the 4th July Mine. The cold morning was now warming nicely. I had run this trail last month when heading to Santanta Peak and was familiar because of that and many other trips up this pretty trail.

The sun was lifting above the shoulder of South Arapahoe Peak and early morning mist was clearing.

Passing Lake Dorothy the route comes into view. It follows the ridge from right to left. The initial ascent is on a very good trail and I was surprised at how solid the ground was.

From the first summit the route to Neva follows undulating and extremely rocky ground. No running here. It's a really enjoyable route. The down climbing tends to be to the left and there are a couple of steps in the ridge that require forethought. But I found it fairly easy to follow the scratch marks and it was always obvious which route to take.

This picture shows the first significant step in the ridge. It is visible as a clear notch on the skyline. It's a very straightforward climb directly up the shaded groove bottom center. Maybe 20 feet high it might feel a lot higher because of the sweeping gully that falls away about 600 feet to Lake Dorothy. There are hand and foot holds galore and a word of encouragement should be enough to move a novice along.

This is the view from the top of the first notch. To the left of Lake Dorothy it is possible to make out the Arapahoe Pass trail. The grassy ridge line running towards South Arapahoe Peak ends with  Quarter to Five Peak.

The crux section comes fairly quickly. After another descent to the left and a scramble down some steeper steps there is a large notch with a lot of loose ground. The following picture was taken on the descent to this notch.

The base of the notch isn't visible, but the route up this ridge is easy and takes the gentler angled rock in shadow towards the obvious V-gully top center. This final gully is a narrow notch leading up to the right and the crux section is the final wall to the left of this notch.

The crux wall is easy. The guidebooks classify it as 4th class but it is barely 3rd class at most. There is no arm pulling at all as footholds are plentiful. The only problems are psychological - it is above a steep drop and some walkers will find this disconcerting. I was disappointed it ended so quickly and was keen to get to the summit of Neva.

Once on top of the crux section it is a short jog to the summit. There are a few large boulders on top and it is possible, as I did, to jump from each of them, but this wouldn't be recommended if you left the contents of your stomach in the final notch.

This is the view back along the ridge line from above the crux notch. All the work arounds are on the sunny side - to the left as you are walking.

The unnamed lake below Mount Jasper lies at the head of the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek. It is one of an adjacent pair of lakes and my descent would bisect them on a fairly direct, off trail route back to the 4th July Mine and from there to the trailhead.

I can't recommend this trip too highly. Of necessity there is a lot of walking and scrambling but this is always interesting. There isn't an obvious trail descending from the col to the south of Neva, but this wasn't a problem. It was enjoyable leaping from boulder to boulder before hitting the shore of the south lake.

It is an isolated place and more enjoyable because of that. I descended the first boulder gully from the ridge, crossed the snow patch and rested by the lake outlet stream. Mount Jasper, which is rarely visited, forms the southern watershed for this lake.

I followed Middle Boulder Creek, first on the south bank and then on the north bank before the creek turned south east and I climbed 300 feet up the the Arapahoe Pass trail as it met the 4th July Mine. This section is good underfoot, although there are some boggy ponds to circumnavigate.

The old workings at the 4th July Mine were deserted. Usually, when I pass, I am encouraged to keep running by the hordes who use this as a stop off point for drinks and recovery.

I did meet a few walkers on the last two mile stretch back to the trail head, but this was a very peaceful and tranquil day in the mountains. Back at the trail head a group of three older ladies enquired about "mushrooms". Had I seen any? As it turned out I had and I showed the eager trio the location on a map. Unfortunately they didn't fancy trekking 3 miles to pick them, no matter how "magic" they were. I think they made a good choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment