Mt Meeker Trip Report
The Dream Weaver Couloir, Class 5.4/5.5, WI3, 11 miles, 4500 ft
NOTE: All the pictures
of me are by Dave.
I didn't get many shots of him as I carry a rather
Canon 20D which was away for most of the couloir. I also may
mislabeled some of the crux pictures but the descriptions in
text are correct. While I generally don't post
self-congratulatory pictures this climb was just to cool to skip some
of the shots Dave took.
Dream Weaver is one of
moderate alpine mixed routes and has been on my to-do list ever since I
first became aware of it. Like many other routes is has
until the time, conditions, and partner was right before I managed to
climb it. I had originally planned to climb it with a
of mine but he has become somewhat reluctant to attempt technical
routes as of late. I figured I would put out a call for a
and see what
happened. I would never have guessed that I would be
enough to have Dave Cooper, a very experienced climber and author of
the fantastic book, Colorado
email me and say he was interested. We emailed back and forth
decided to aim for the week after Memorial Day to meet up and try the
route. Spurred by recent beta from a CMC trip and a report on
we decided that the conditions were ripe for the ascent. It turned out
the conditions had become even better than reported and new quantities
of ice were to be found in all the constrictions.
Dave and I met at the
trailhead at 3:00 AM on Thursday morning. We brought along
obligatory ice tools, small rack of cams and nuts, and a 75 foot rope.
We set out on the trail somewhere around 3:30 or so and
towards Chasm Junction. We took a brief food break at Chasm
Junction before heading towards the Loft/Chasm Lake trail.
away we came to what I considered to be the mental crux of the day.
The snow fields on the approach to the Loft area were icy and
steep. At one point the trail angled down and I strongly
considered crampons but managed, with Dave's coaxing, to head on.
Scariest Part Of The Day
After the snow traverse
we angled to
the left towards the base of our route. Dream Weaver is the
couloir on the left of the prominent rock formation (The Flying
Buttress) in the picture below and starts as a broad snow field before
quickly becoming constricted. The snow was mostly in decent
but we postholed in some areas near the rocks. Along the way
passed by the Iron Gates on our left, I think this is one of the cooler
rock formations in Colorado so take every opportunity to photograph it.
The Iron Gates also mark the end of Mt. Meeker's NE Ridge
which is class 3 and supposedly a decent winter route.
Dream Weaver ( The Narrow
Couloir Left of the Flying Buttress)
The Iron Gates
We arrived at the base
snowfield somewhere around 7:00 in the morning and donned our crampons
before heading up. I have to thank whatever kind souls
the beautiful set of steps up the snow as it greatly reduced the
general pounding my legs take on snow. We followed a great
steps up the snow which seemed to average around 40 or so degrees in
angle with a slightly steeper stretch before the couloir narrows.
Starting Up Dream Weaver
(At The Broad Part)
Dave, Past the First
I may be getting this
wrong in which
case Dave or someone else can send me a correction but here is how I
recall the route: At the top of the first snowfield you come to a
chimney leading into the first constriction which Roach rates as 5.4,
you climb through some more snow, maybe 45 or so degree until coming to
a second chimney (supposedly 5.6, felt 5.4/5.5) which pops
out on a bunch of talus where you are almost parallel to the top of the
Flying Buttress. When we climbed Dream Weaver all three
chimneys have had enough
snow melt that they require climbing on rock and ice to surmount, you
could not walk up and over them on snow. Be prepared for
this as Dreamweaver is sometimes completely a snow climb. After this a
scramble returns you to snow which
gradually steepens to maybe 50 degrees before you reach at he third
crux which is a chimney like-rock step (generally the crux of the
After passing the broad snowfield we came to the first chimney.
There was a bit of ice on the walls and above this point but
felt easy enough so I decided to give it a go ropeless. I
stemmed up and
used my tools to find purchase in ice and rock above this point.
I initially found myself awkwardly stemming until
me to use the right wall. Once I was able to get a good
with one of my tools I managed to get my right leg over on the right
wall and then it was a simple matter of stemming up the wall while
inching my tools up and out of this step. When I realized how
well the tools bite into ice and that I could literally hang off them
it became quite fun. I had never realized how enjoyable
in crampons and with a set of tools was. I scrambled up past
icy stuff which required a couple thoughtful tool and crampon
placements but was generally easy before stopping and waiting for Dave.
We made a point not to move while the other was climbing
technical parts as rock and ice fall was a real issue. I
looked back and watched Dave come up so smoothly that it made my ascent
look barbaric. It is quite interesting to watch someone who
actually knows what they are doing. He made the whole thing
Over the First Crux
After the first chimney
we headed up
more snow to the second one. There was more ice here and in fact we
probably have had the best ice of the spring season up here.
Since I realized how well the tools actually worked
decided to solo this portion as well. This time I had no
and just tooled and stemmed my way up and out of this steeper and
harder chimney. Since I had a good bit of confidence in the
I was quite happy weighting them and dry tooling them. Having Dave
below explain the proper usage was also an immense confidence booster.
One thing I noticed was that I was actually happy to have
more ice around and above me as it provided great purchase for the
tools and crampons. Once again Dave came smoothly through
section. Watching him and talking with him about his adventures has me
hooked on the idea that I need to become an ice climber.
Heading Towards The
Past 2nd Crux
A Talus scramble at the
top of The Flying Buttress
After the second chimney
out on talus and sat down for another food break. The views
were incredible and we were staring out at the whole beautiful cirque
from a vantage roughly parallel to the Flying Buttress. I've
it before but this area is hands down my favorite in Colorado.
Since we were having a beautiful, bluebird day neither of us
in any great rush (and it was still before 9:00 AM).
After a food and photo break we headed up some 3rd class slabs
before-entering snow. I've climbed rocky stuff in crampons
but once you get a bit more comfortable in them it is amazing how well
they bite, it almost seemed natural to be climbing rock in crampons.
Parallel To The Flying
Once back on the snow we
headed up to
an increasingly steeper, narrower, and icier section. At the
of this was a rather large ice step, which was much larger
recent photos (within 4 or 5 days) had shown. I decided,
minimal experience on ice, that a rope might be prudent at this point.
Dave was still quite comfortable so we decided I'd throw an
anchor in the wall and hang out while he soloed it. Dave made
quick work of this section (and rated it WI3) and I did my best to
watch his form knowing
I would have to emulate it as best I could in a few minutes.
Back On Snow, Heading To
Crux up Ahead
Past The Crux, Easy Snow
To The Ridge
After he cleared the
section he set
up and anchor and threw a rope down
to me. I tied in, broke my anchor down, and started ascending
The ice was very bulgy and huge portions popped off as I
around at the walls near me and decided I could have lead the pitch
using the wall to set rock pro in but would never have been happy
soloing it. With some advice from Dave I came up and over the
scrambled up behind him, and sat down. We hung out for
shoot and food break before heading up the final easy snow to the
ridge. If mixed climbing is always this much fun then I think I have
found my new favorite type of alpine climbing.
Climbing Past the Crux
I'd have to say this route is allot of fun but not really
all that tough (assuming a reasonable background in climbing).
was actually quite surprised by how much easier it was than I had
expected. I am not detracting from its enjoyability, it is
certainly one of the most fun routes I have done and I'm sure weather
and conditions could shift my assesment a good deal.
At the ridge we pulled
crampons and headed right for a couple hundred yards to the summit of
Meeker. I think we got up somewhere around 9:30 or 10:00.
For people doing this route: The true summit is the on the
A Bit Of Ridge Scrambling
To The Top
The views from the
summit were fantastic and we spent some time
watching clouds forming and swirling at Meeker's edge before heading
off. We scrambled back down around the summit block and
headed for the saddle between Longs and Meeker.
Cool Clouds Being Formed
By Mt. Meeker
From the saddle we
followed the easy
ledge traverse over to the Loft and hopped on the snow. The
was actually a bit to soft but we were still able to glissade it
(albeit at the expense of wet pants)
Looking Over At Longs
The Ledges Leading To The
Descending The Loft
Once at the base of
the Loft we made
our way back over to the snowfield traverse to Chasm View and stopped
there to have a bite and take a few more pictures. I snapped
last shot of our day before we headed back down the dreaded Long's Peak
Trail to the ranger station. We arrived back at the parking
around 1:15, chatted a bit and headed off. I'd say a sub 10 hour day
which included a good deal of very pleasant and relaxed breaks is not
bad. I was home by 2:30.
Not to bad for a days work in Colorado.
Looking Back At Our Route
I immensely enjoyed
climbing with Dave. It was a pleasure to get a chance to
day in the peaks with someone of his experience level. He is
decent, patient, and knowledgeable partner and I hope to get out with
him again in the future. My only regrets were not getting an
obligatory marmot shot. I am however gratified to have now
finished the first two technical routes (Dream Weaver and Keiners) that
I set my eyes on when I first began technical climbing.
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