Lone Eagle Trip Report
Trail: North Face, Class 5.7 , ~22 miles, ~6500 ft elevation gain
have had my eye on Lone Eagle
Peak since first viewing the cover off Gerry Roach's Indian Peaks Guide
and luckily, so has my friend Brian Hynek. Brian and I had
climbed the Cables Route on Long's Peak and knew we worked well
together so decided to try for Lone Eagle on July 13th, 2005.
We met on Tuesday the 12th and started hiking from the Long Lake
trailhead in the early afternoon. The hike in from this side
is a bit of a pain and is about 9.5 miles long. Basically we
followed the Long Lake Trail up to Lake Isabelle turned off at the
Pawnee Pass trail, climbed to the pass, descended the continental
divide to Lake Pawnee, and followed the trail until the turn off to
Crater Lake. It would turn out that 50 lb packs made for a
very, very long summit day.
arrived at Mirror Lake after about 5 hours of hiking and set up
camp. After setting up we headed over to Crater Lake where
Brian met a couple from Kansas who had returned to the area after 12
years. This couple told Brian that the last time they had
come a soloist had fallen on the climb. After hearing his
screams, the couple's son climbed up to the man and gave him a sleeping
bag while one of the couple hiked out to Monarch Lake for a rescue
team. It turned out that this very lucky man had broken both
legs and arms and managed to survive, I hope he gave these people one
heck of a thank you.
and I cooked up our Mountain House dinners and stared at Lone
Eagle. Brian spent allot of time laughing, I spent allot of
time wondering what sort of fool I was to have this
lifestyle. In any event we both respected the peak we had our
sites on. I find it hard to describe just how intimidating
Lone Eagle was from our vantage point. Lone Eagle appeared to
be a huge unclimbable mountain. Its summit was a narrow point
surrounded by shear face and I wondered what they would be like to
stand next to. By 9:00 or so we drifted off to a restless
the rock was so wet we proceeded to rope up for it and scramble up
(~class 5.4) . We made good time and found ourselves on
upward angling ramps covered by pine trees. Since
descriptions rated this section as 3 pitches of class 3,4 and some 5.0
we decided to forgone the rope and free climb. As I recall
there was only one sketchy section. Soon enough we found the gully
which splits the east face of the peak and angles to climbers
right. We scampered up some lower 5th class rock to the 5.5
chimney. The pictures below are of me relaxing below the
chimney and then the chimney itself.
chimney was very narrow in its upper part and since I had hauled my
Canon EOS20D and my boots with me I was forced to climb the outside of
it which made it somewhat tougher. We did rope for this part
as the fall potential was there.
Brian had led the chimney we found ourselves on a grassy ledge. All
during the climb we followed the advice from climbingboulder.com which
was 100 percent right. One post said 'DO NOT GO LEFT
HERE' . We didn't and headed straight up the rock below which
lead to moderate climbing (class 5.4). I went right and Brian
went left on the rock below.
the moderate section shown above we came to another stretch of rcok
which was much longer and more vertical. At first we didn't
rope and headed up freehanded. Somewhere near the top I came
to a portion that was a bit past my comfort level for unroped
climbing. It's funny but I feel that most of the pitches we
roped were tougher than the rating suggested, that is except for the
crux pitch which felt like dead on 5.7. After getting a bit
nervous I descended to the grassy area in the picture below and set up
an anchor. Brian and I tied in and he quickly lead a friction
slab section to the top. On rope I was quite happy and
followed. The crux of this pitch seemed more like
5.5. It's funny to pick at the difference between 5.4 and 5.5
but in the alpine with a pack it sure makes a difference.
Once past this section we found ourselves on grassy 3rd and 4th class slopes leading to the crux pitch. The crux is quite easily identifiable as a pair of cracks leading straight up. Below the cracks is a small ledge over top of a huge grassy ledge (huge, like a football field). At the top of the crack is a diamond shaped rock.
set up an anchor and started up. He made good time and once
at the top communicated it was my time using the walkie talkies I had
brought. As a segue I recommend bringing walkie talkies as
the wind can make communication difficult.
followed the pitch which was quite pleasant 5.7 crack
climbing. The only creepy part was an angled slab traverse
near the end. I would not recommend looking down from
here. The picture below is a shot of me at the top
of the traverse. The crux was fun, easy, and
thrilling and at close to 12000 feet, it certainly will
remain in my memory as quite different from 5.7s down in the crags.
Once we had arrived at the ledge I contoured around a narrow 15 foot section and placed a precautionary cam. Brian came up and we headed about 75 feet to the south where we found the obvious 5.4 chimney. For reference do not do the overhung chimney above the crux pitch, it is not the 5.4 chimney.
took off up the chimney and radioed down for me to follow (We roped
this and the part above it as well). He
also told me I was in for a bit of fun. I made my way up the
chimney only to find a finger crack above it leading to the
summit. I'm not sure if we went the wrong way but it felt
like 5.6 to me.
summited around noon for a total of 6.5 hours. The route was
solid, fun, and really easy to follow using the beta from
climbingboulder.com. We worked well together and easily stayed
on route, up to the summit felt like the safest, best coordinated
climbs I have ever done. The picture below is of Brian on
the tiny little one person summit.
guess the old saying pride goeth before a fall is true. We
were both so happy that we summited in good time and without ever
getting off route that we ignored the downclimb route.
of paying close attention to the description, we down climbed the ridge
and followed obvious trails down a steep gully. At the bottom
we found a rappel sling. Brian backed it up and rapped
down. He came up shortly later and said no way was that the
route. At this point we read Dave Cooper's book closely and
realized our mistake. The actual trail for Solo Flight (class
4 route) is much higher and stays near the ridge. We
upclimbed a bit of tricky class 5.0-5.2 stuff and soon found ourselves
on the cairned trail.
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