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
Stone Man Pass
Heading up to Stone Man
To The Summit
To My Mountains Page