STRAIGHT ARROW: Hiking in Utah & Colorado 1996

-A A +A

Straight Arrow

By Gene Culver

On July 3, Bonnie and I flew into Salt Lake City, rented a car and drove to

Bountiful, Utah, to spend a couple days with my sister before heading to the mountains of Colorado.

We visited the Mormon Temple and the Kennecott copper mine, the largest mine in the world, but after a couple of days we were off to Colorado.

July 7 found us camped at the Yankee Boy Basin trailhead seven miles west of Ouray, Colo., ready to climb Mount Sneffels the next day. We chose the South Slopes route, seven miles roundtrip and a gain of 3,450 feet in elevation. We started our climb at 6 a.m.

The climb went well with one steep, frozen 500-foot snowfield in a couloir being the biggest obstacle on our way to the top of 14,150-foot Mount Sneffels. A thunderstorm hit just as we got to camp, so we broke camp and spent the night in Lake City, Colo.

The afternoon of July 9, we headed for the Silver Creek-Grizzly Gulch trailhead 10 miles southwest of Lake City. The road into this area is worth mentioning as you drive 18.3 miles on gravel roads with a half-mile white knuckle section that is one lane with a couple of pull-offs along sheer cliffs dropping off the side of the road, and with overhanging cliffs above you. It’s a breathtaking road that we will never forget!

After camping near the road, we were on the trail at 4 a.m. to climb Redcloud Peak (named for the color of the rock on the mountain) and Sunshine Peak. We climbed Redcloud by the Northwest Ridge Route to the 14,034-foot summit, descend to the 13,500-foot saddle between Redcloud and Sunlight, and then climbed Sunlight’s northeast ridge. After seven hours of climbing, we topped out on the 14,001-foot summit of Sunlight on July 10.

We decide to descend the West Gulley’s route, which would save us several miles hiking, so when we descended to the saddle between the two mountains we dropped off a steep, loose scree slope and did a standing glissade for the first 1,000 feet when the slope started getting so loose and steep it was starting to make me feel uneasy. Bonnie wasn’t happy with my choice of this shortcut. The gullet was also getting narrower, with towers and boulders on both sides. The last 500 feet was very scary! Then, to get back to the trail, we crossed Silver Creek on a snow budge, the leftovers of a winter avalanche. We arrived back in camp after 10 hours.

Handies Peak is about four miles west of our camp, and after an overnight rain we got a late start, leaving camp at 7 a.m. We crossed the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River on a log bridge, and at 11,900 feet we came out into a gorgeous alpine meadow with snowfields, grass, wildflowers and huge boulders. With Handies Peak towering 2,000 feet above us, crowned with snow and surrounded by blue sky, it was one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. Alter climbing 3.9 miles and 3,650 feet, we summited 14,048-foot Handies Peak on July 10. The view from the top of Handies was spectacular — we were surrounded by mountains in all directions as far as we could see. When we got back to camp, we pulled everything and drove to Salida, where we were to meet Jack and Ellen Hume, climbing friends from Lexington.

On July 12, the four of us spent half a day rock climbing about 10 miles north of Buena Vista. Then we headed for the Jennings Creek Trailhead, set up camp at 10,520-feet to get ready to make an attempt at Tabeguache Peak.

We were on the trail at 5 a.m. climbing the Southwest Ridge Route. As the sun came out, we saw a world of white as we climbed above the clouds with the sun shining on them. There was only one mountaintop to the south protruding through the clouds with the sun glistening on it. It is always a thrill to be above the clouds like this. We climbed on and it took us seven hours to climb the 3,700 feet on a very steep three miles, but we finally summited 14,155-foot Tabeguache Peak. Then we had to get down.

The descent took us another five hours. We were exhausted, and we ate and crawled into our sleeping bags.

On July 15, we hung out in Leadville before going to the Halfmoon campground, ready to attempt the Mount of the Holy Cross. At 5 a.m., we were on the North Ridge route and, while it was the easiest route on Holy Cross, it was 12 miles round-trip with a gain of 5,625’ in elevation — about 1,700 feet more than we had ever done before. At 11’600 feet we left the maintained trail and climbed talus and boulders until we reached the top of 14’005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross. It was cold, cloudy and windy all day, but never rained or snowed on us.

When we got back to camp, we said good-by to Jack and Ellen, and Bonnie and I headed for the Grand Teton in Wyoming.


2014 3-D Shoot schedule

July 12, 26

Aug. 9

Shoots are held at the Culvertown Ballpark on Monks Road in New Haven. Signups are 8 a.m. – noon. Cost is $10 for adults, $8 for youth and $5 for cub shooters.


Local archer and outdoorsman Gene Culver operates the Bent Arrow Archery Shop (www.bentarrowarchery.com) with his wife, Bonnie. Contact them at 549-8119 with questions.