McHenrys Peak

Stone Man Pass, Class 4, ~12.5 miles, ~4200 feet, With Jen and Dave From England

Jen and I headed down to RMNP around 4 AM on Sunday, August 24th.  Our  original plan was to head up to Solitude Lake, scramble up to the ridge between Arrowhead and McHenrys, head over to Arrowhead, then scramble the Arrowhead Arete to McHenrys and come down Stone Man Pass.  This didn't happen.  We were chatting and moving quickly and walked right by the turn off (which we had only the faintest idea of where it was).  We decided to just head up and reverse the route so continued on towards the basin with Spearhead.

Along the way we met a fellow named Dave who was on a two week vacation from England.  Apparently Dave is a big hiker/scrambler and has done many of the peaks in the United Kingdom and takes annual trips to the US to visit our national parks.  He had hiked up to Chiefshead the day before and was aiming for Pagoda this day.  I mentioned that his chosen route was a miserable, chossy gully that would stink in the rain and that he was free to accompany us if he wanted to.

AS we all approached the basin it was looking more and more like weather would skunk all of our goals for the day and he decided to come along with us.  I figured we'd just keep going and re-evaluating at every point.  We made decent time over to the rock steps below the pass and headed up.  The steps were a bit tricky to navigate through at the base and were made tricker by all of the running water on them.  We wound our way up the steps, over mossy slabs, and to  the pass.  At this point a lot of the weather had burnt off and the day looked promising so we headed on.  The final stretch to the summit was pretty straightforward and was heavily cairned.  We took the opportunity to add a bit of extra scrambling at the end as the rock was solid and dry.

At the summit we hung out for 20 or so minutes then headed to the gully that lead to the Arrowhead Arete.  The gully was loose, wet, slippery, mossy, and still holding a decent bit of snow.  After descending a hundred or so vertical and remembering that the route itself was slabby we called it and headed back up.  It seemed objectively risky since the whole thing looked like a slippery no fall route.  This kind of tacked some time on our day as we had to head back over Stone Man Pass.  As we crested the pass the weather began to build and we figured on an hour or two before it opened.

On the way down from the pass we found ourselves sliding down much wetter slabs and down climbing soaking wet steps which did not seem to be remotely 3rd class towards the bottom so maybe we were off route.  We headed back by the Spearhead, chatted with some climbers from Durango, then headed down.  

At this point it began to storm pretty nicely but we had been timing our day to end up back in the trees when the sky opened up and we got a nice little soaking.  It was actually quite pleasant and a nice cool off but there were hordes of very angry and wet looking tourists on the trail that didn't seem to appreciate the relative scarcity of rain in Colorado.

We made our way down and got back to the cars by 3:00.  All in all it was a very fine route and well worth doing.  It's also probably worth having someone who has done Stone Man Pass before with you if you are descending it for the first time.  McHenrys was probably the most fun non-technical route I've done in the park to date and I look forward to returning to it via the Arrowhead Arete one day.  

I also think I'll bring a bullhorn next time I go to the park to alert the tourists who walk 4 abreast and make snide comments to your wife when you pass them.  I don't get that, you need to ask really slow people who have clearly seen you to pass then they say nothing to the two men who pass them but snipe at the 5 foot woman that does at the end.


Stone Man Pass

Heading up to Stone Man

To The Summit

More Trudging

Some Scrambling

Arrowhead Arete

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