Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quarter to Five Peak, Mt. Neva, Jasper Peak.

Welcome to a Hiking RMNP field trip.  Since I have been so focused on Wild Basin the past two years, this marks my first real hike in Indian Peaks, of course besides the brief forays when hiking on the south side of the park.  This also marks the first hike I have made with a hiking partner who seems to love getting off the trail and out the of popular spots just as much as I do.
I got up at four, ate, got the final parts of my stuff ready, and rode my motorcycle to our meeting place in Boulder.  Dan was kind enough to drive both ways, and when we made it to Nederland in half an hour, I was thinking it might take less time than predicted to get to the trailhead.  Then of course the paving ended and there was several miles of rough dirt road to the Fourth of July trailhead.  I had read this was 4WD only, but we made it ok.
We started out just as the sun was coming up.  Dan knew the way, so he was in front for most of the day, and since I was suffering a bit I was happy for him to set the pace.  As opposed to the hikes I normally do, we got to and broke tree line fairly quickly- I'd say in only an hour or so.  While some good views were had on the trail up, this offered the first real glimpse of our eventual goal- Mt. Neva.
Mt. Neva as seen from the trail.
We decided to check out Quarter to Five Peak since it is on the way kind of. 
Mt. Jasper seen from the trail.
We noticed the haze from the smoke blowing in from various forest fires in the mountain states.  It made for some cool photos, but it was weird to not be able to see the horizon in any direction.
Arapahoe Peaks from Quarter to Five Peak.  The scramble looked intimidating, but of course wasn't bad in reality.
Looking northwest from Quarter to Five Peak.
We made our way back and started up towards the north ridge of Mt. Neva.  This is graded class four, with much of it being solidly in second and third territory.  We were surprised to find a well worn trail that took us right to the rocky ridge.
 And talk about intimidation.  This looked hard.  But we took our time and picked our way carefully.
 Back along the ridge holding Quarter to Five Peak.
 Lake Dorothy lies at the foot of Mt. Neva. 
This is nearing the crux of the climb- definitely don't fall here.  It was pretty neat to see the red banding through the cliff face up close.  For some reason I kept thinking of The Princess Bride..  The cliffs of insanity.
 Looking west through a keyhole lying right on the continental divide.  Pretty neat to stand right in the middle.
 Looking back along the north ridge of Neva. 
Past the hardest difficulty, Dan heads on to Neva.  We were talking about the class system in grading hikes because while this is fourth, neither of us felt it was too difficult.  He did make the point that most people could probably climb a 5.5 on their very first time out.  Consider that fourth class will be way easier than that, but may still require you to find foot/hand holds and essentially climb.
Down into the basin from the top of Neva.
North to one of Colorados most iconic views- Longs Peak and Meeker.
Lake Dorothy with Quarter to Five ridge and Arapahoe Peaks in the background.
A close up and far away.
Where we started on the north ridge of Neva.
At this point, we still had alot of day left and decided to ring the bowl and head for Jasper Peak.
Looking along the ridge to Jasper Peak.
Looking west from Jasper Peak.  The hike was pretty easy to get there, tundra, some rock, with a little second class.

Panorama shot from Jasper Peak, looking mostly north.
I brought along my winter jacket thinking I probably wouldn't need it, and then wore it for most of the day.

The summit of Jasper Peak.
Mt. Neva as seen from Jasper.
Arapahoe Peaks in the distance.
Small unnamed(?) lake at the foot of the peak.
The lake above and Lake Dorothy as seen from the ridge between Neva and Jasper.
We headed back towards Neva and were surprised to find another trail to descend the scree slope between the two peaks. 
At the bottom, we made our way around some of the ponds, hills, brush, when we saw this cool balancing rock.  We headed back toward the scree slope below the Arapahoe Pass Trail.  A short scramble brought us to the top, and from there it was all downhill back to the car. 
A good day, with three peaks over 12000 feet climbed.  And fun with a new hiking partner who likes doing the same sort of stuff as I do!
A field trip to Indian Peaks Wilderness:
Quarter to Five Peak(12300 ft):  2140 foot gain, 3.5 miles one way, 2nd class.  Moderate+.
Mt. Neva(12814 ft): 2654 foot gain, 3.5 miles one way, 4th class.  Strenuous-.
Jasper Peak(12923ft): 2763 foot gain, 4.3ish miles one way, 2nd class.  Strenuous-.

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