Cloud Tour — Attempt on Castle Peak from Cumberland Basin

Post by blogger | August 6, 2007      

Hiking to Castle Peak via Cumberland Basin.
The approach portion of the climb is a 3 mile hike up the beautiful alpine of Cumberland Basin.

For a number of days now we’ve had an interesting weather event in Colorado. A high pressure moved across the state and is pulling warm wet air up from the southwest. Some days it feels like you’re sticking your head in an operating dish washer. This situation happens occasionally and brings welcome moisture, but the steamy days have gone on for about a week — a veritable monsoon. We’d love that in the winter, but what happened to our summer Colorado blue sky?

Despite doubts about the weather we tried a climb of 14er Castle Peak this past Friday, via a beautiful alpine area known as Cumberland Basin. It was a family trip, as we joined up with my brother Craig and one of his daughters. Craig was one of my main rock climbing and mountaineering partners back in the 1970s and even has his name on a few first ascents here and there, so it was good to get out with him even if we didn’t get the summit because of weather doubts. A few photos from the hike:

Wet hiking in the Elk Mountains.
The hike included at least a mile of wet willows. No better way to get quickly soaked then having sodden vegetation brushing against you like a sopping shower curtain. Check out the pants, totally soaked. This boot is the Scarpa ZG 40, a Gortex lined boot that I’ve found to be a bit hot and uncomfortable for summer day hikes, but is perfect for a wet expedition such as this. If you’re wondering, I wasn’t using my new Scarpa SL M3 (no Gortex) boots because they’re not broken in yet. They would have worked fine, though my feet would have probably ended up a bit damper.

Cumberland Basin
When it comes to photography, clouds are our friends. The ridge forming Cumberland Basin’s northerly side is known as the Ridge of Gendarmes and is one of the most jagged and pinnacle studded aretes in Colorado. Too bad it’s made of rock too loose for technical climbing — but it looks cool. Click photo to enlarge.

Wet hiking in the Elk Mountains.
Craig and family in upper Cumberland. The clouds lifted for a while, then came back heavy and inspired us to turn around. Sure enough, when we got back to the trailhead the clouds lifted again and showed we probably could have made the summit. Lightning was our biggest concern — didn’t hear one boomer. Oh well, best to be safe…

Wet hiking in the Elk Mountains.
The crew at our highpoint. The flowers were beautiful and a Rocky Mountain High was had by all. Perhaps we’ll be together for another try next summer

Wet hiking in the Elk Mountains.
Craig pilots CJ2A Jeep Rumble Bee down Pearl Pass road back to Crested Butte. Back when we were kids another flat fender Jeep was a part of our lives, so it was cool seeing the guy rowing through gears again. He mumbled something like “I want one.”

Check back tomorrow for Part Two: Historic machinery at the Cumberland Mine.


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2 Responses to “Cloud Tour — Attempt on Castle Peak from Cumberland Basin”

  1. Scott Nelson August 6th, 2007 5:22 pm

    I’ve enjoyed your trip reports this summer Lou. Nice shot of the Rumble Bee. Now if I could just figure out a way to easily fit some 35’s on my ’03 Tacoma and still average 26 mpg 🙂 (thats a V6 with 32’s and full synthetics in everything)…. I keep toying with the idea of swapping in a new suspension, like 2″ or so, but why? It sounds like I could cruise the Schofield Pass road without too much worry now according to your previous blog. Before (last summer or two) I came real close to crushing one of my rockers, just dented the pinch weld a little bit, on the Lead King loop. Did the FS fill in the small ledges and clear rocks on that trail too?

  2. Craig August 9th, 2007 4:52 pm

    Lou, wanted to take the time, now that we are finally back in Cal from our road trip, to thank you again for taking the time to do this back country trip into the Rockies.
    Felt good to me, almost like the good old days
    Would have enjoyed the summit, but perhaps next time.
    It was wonderful seeing the joy in the teenagers faces as we explored an old mine and gazed into the mist at the summit.
    I hope, as you have done with such great passion, to pass “the freedom of the hills” on to the next generation.
    Am already looking for the son of Rumble Bee–California style—-ha ha!!!
    And I’m already planning for another try next summer–perhaps two or three fourteeners in a row!!!

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