Navajo Peak, 13,409 ft
Navajo Snowfield & North Face with descent of Airplane Gully, 5.4 Variation, 9.2 miles, 2910 ft, September 2004 (Jared & Henry Throop)
Dicker's Peck, 13,140 ft
Dicking Around, 5.7 variation, climbed with Navajo Peak, September 2004
I have recently begun climbing with a
mine. We had peeked through the Indian Peak's guide and decided that
the Dicker's Navajo combination might be fun.
Henry picked me up at 4:30 in Boulder and we set off for Brainard Lake. The drive was uneventful and we took our time packing up before we left. I carried a 60 meter rope and Henry carried a light rack rack (a few nuts and some Aliens). Both of us had crampons and axes.
The hike towards Navajo snowfield was uneventful but beautiful. There was almost no one to be seen. We arrived at the snowfield and noticed that much of the left and central side was iced over. Donning our crampons and axes we headed up the right side. The climb was fun and a recent coating of snow had made the going easy. Near the top we had to move to the left to avoid areas that were almost entirely iced over and devoid of snow. The angle reached about 40 degrees and the field below us looked daunting to glissade so we carefully headed up.
Dicker's Peck is a cool rock tower about 70 feet tall and is located in the saddle below Navajo. Since we were aiming for a tougher approach to Navajo and a descent of Airplane Gully we decided to climb it straight off.
Henry led up and made smooth time placing pro. There was some confusion as to when I should start climbing because the wind was whipping so fiercely that even our walkie talkies didn't allow us to communicate. We had wisely decided on a course of action wherein Henry would pull the rope up when he reached the top and I would begin my belayed climb when it was taught. Once the rope was pulled up I started the climb. Most of the climb was class 4 to 5.5 but was super easy. I spent extra time being careful due to the wind.
Right below the top you come to an overhang where you can either step over a tremendoucly exposed point for a 5.2 climb or you can go right over it for a 5.7. Both Henry and I choose the 5.7.
Sitting on Dicker's Peck was fantastic (and a nice break from the wind). There was a ton of pro placed into a couple of old bolts. After a few minutes of enjoying the scenery we decided to rappel down and head towards Navajo. The weather looked like it might be a few hours away still but better safe than sorry. Henry headed down first and I quickly followed.
From here we headed up some class 4 to class 5.2 climbing up Navajo. At first we headed straight up the north face but soon came to a point where the rock was a little to smooth and icy for us too comfortably climb it. I think this is the 5.7 variation Roach speaks of but am not sure. The approach we turned from was ice covered and would have funneled us directly down the north face and into a spiraling fall a few hundred feet to the snow field. We could have roped up here but the surface was so slick it would have been a miserable climb. Instead we headed to the wind scoured west face via a super-exposed traverse on narrow ledges. We picked our own way around and up and free climbed over some pretty cool terrain until coming to a 5.4 crack. Right before the crack there was a cool rock outcropping jutting out a ways. I really wanted to scramble on it but the wind was so ferocious it would catch my pack and cause me to sway violently.
At this point we roped up and made our way to the peak ( the yellow line was our route).
I should point out that this route has some awesome exposure on it. Also, the climbing almost never dips below class 4. This is a rock route. We spent allot of time doing class 5.0-5.2 with heavy packs. This wasn't occasional moves either but unrelenting class 4 to 5. I consider myself a decent climber and Henry is a good lead so it was mostly fun. We always had pro in case we felt uncomfortable. This is not the place you want to be without pro or a whole lot of experience. The rewards are well worth it but take some care and make sure you are up for it.
We spent some time chatting on the peak and made a point to identify all of the local mountains. I guess at this point I might as well try to climb all of the Brainard Lake Indian Peaks', the area is beuatiful and a mile or two gets you well away from everyone.
We headed down a chimney system which Roach rates as a variation to the standard class 3 route. Once again I would give this a class 4. Maybe it was class 3 upclimbing but downclimbing it with 40+ pounds of gear made it seem a whole lot tougher.
We walked down to the saddle with a ferocious wind as our constant companion. Airplane gully gave itself away with the sounds of the broken plane's metal swaying and creaking in the wind.
This gully stunk, it was loose and icy and we used our axes to safely descend any snow we found. I think I would never use this as an approach. The wreck of the plane was neat but the gully funneled the wind to epic proportions.
We carefully made our way down the gully and headed back to the parking lot. On the way Henry soaked his feet in one of the lakes and we were visited by marmots. I will of course, add my obligatory marmot shot :)
The weather never materialized and the trip was a blast. I keep realizing with every new trip that I want to keep trying new and more difficult routes. You get a great sense of accomplishment finishing peaks like these. I also want to thank Henry. He is a great companion and a great rock teacher.
PICTURES COURTESY OF HENRY THROOP
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