Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mt Bancroft Trip Report by Beth Bershader

Saturday 5/19/07
Mount Bancroft 13,250 ft.
Arapahoe National Forest, Clear Creek Co.
TH: Loch Lomond
Route: Ascent-East Ridge, Descent- SE Bowl
Start: 6am
Summit: 2pm
Finish: 5pm
Total Mileage: 6 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2,850 ft.
Total Fun: 100%
Gear: ice ax, harness w/ belay device, prussik, personal anchor system, helmet, slings, 4 rap rings, 2 60 meter 10mm ropes, small rack of gear, snowshoes

CMC BMS Routefinding Day
Senior Instructor: Darrell Johnson
Assistant Instructors: Beth Bershader, Steve Cassin, Rob Nevitt
Students: Sharon Adams, Chris Bartle, Katie Goodwin, Sarah MacDonald, Stuart Paul, Dave Young, Mollie Young

Everyone was half asleep but wide eyed with anticipation. We knew it was gonna be a good day. You know how you just get that feeling. The sky was clear with no hint of a breeze & it was already warm. We started off parked about 1.5 miles from Loch Lomond (10,400 ft.elevation) due to a gate closure on Stewart Rd. The road was dry to the 2nd gate which funny enough was open. The road was covered with hardpacked snow from here. A few of us carried snowshoes on our packs as we walked across the hard snow to Loch Lomond where Darrell insisted we stop for a quick break & reconnoiter the route since that was where the view is. "I'm all about the view" he kept saying. Alright alright, calm down!

We stashed our snowshoes here & headed for the SE ramp covered in snow that the students kicked steps up that led to a small saddle off the eastern ridge where Lake Caroline lay in front of us. Another quick break here for snacks, pictures, a scan of the route. In the SE bowl you could see gigantic cracks that had produced slab avalanches. I mean GIGANTIC! We could see a runout from a mid sized avy leading to Lake Caroline.

We started up the eastern ridge. We could see James Peak & Jamaica from the ridge, I never realized how flat they both are, especially the summit of James. We had some 2nd class & low 3rd class scrambilng with a sprinkling of good ole fun 3rd class with a few short snow ridged sections to walk across. It all had a great alpine feel from the get go. I love ridges & I love scrambling! I hadn't scrambled since last fall so it took a little to shake the dust off. We reached the rappell notch around 10am & set up the anchor. There is a bomber rock to sling here. It looks downclimbable to the climbers left if you're comfortable with exposed 4th class. I went first down the approx. 80 ft. rappell setting up a piece of webbing on a wimpy flake for students to clip into when they got off rappell. There was quite the knife edged snow traverse across the notch & a slip into the coliour below looked unentertaining! Stuart came down next & stomped out a good path across the snow.

When Rob came down I headed over to Stuart to scout the route while Rob helped others rappell down. In retrospect, it would've made much more sense for Rob to go with Stuart. I followed Stuart up the left of the notch forgetting what an experienced climber he is & an unexperiened climber I am. Needless to say he upclimbed the 5.2 crack unroped while I hung out on a ledge trying to figure out what to do with myself. So I sat down & ate a snack & cheered the students on while they rappelled feeling like an idiot getting myself stuck. After a while Chris replaced Rob & Rob met Stuart to prep a belay station for students to upclimb the right side of the notch which is exposed 4th class with 1 low 5th class move in the very beginning. As Katie reached the other side of the notch, she looked slightly worried. After some friendly harrassing from Darrell & worrying about Katie, this motivated me to downclimb to help her out. Down I went, wow that was easy, why did I wait so long to do that! I helped the students tie into their harnesses & prepare to climb as they each came & went. Finally my turn & up I went, not bad at all. When we were all gathered back together almost 3 hours later we began moving along the ridge again.

After some more fun scrambling we reached an interesting rock tower where the only option was downclimbing then traversing a snowfield facing into the snow with our ice axes in center front of us to reach a 4th class gulley. One at a time slowly & carefully we made it. Now for more fun scrambling some of the rock being bomber & some of the rock being pretty dang lose. It was mostly 3rd class with some 4th class here & there with a little exposure now & then. There was even a short minor knife ridge like before the white tower on Kelso Ridge.

We finally reached grassy rocky ledges that turned into grassy ledges, the going was getting easier. The clouds were starting to build & people were starting to slow. I think we were all getting tired now. It was feeling like a long time. We had some people pop gu's, the miracle of quick energy. We just kept slowly moving now hoping no one would stop & just keep moving even if slowly. We finally reached the false summit as the snow started. We added some layers & had another quick bite. We were hoping we'd reach the summit but weren't sure due to the dark clouds, but we were soooo close! As we reached the saddle, the snow squall passed us rumbling some minor thunder as the sun came back out. A quick 5 minute kick stepping up the snow to the summit & we were on top. Hugs & smiles & high fives all around. Excellent views into Winter Park, to Gray & Torreys, etc. We took some quick pics, had some quick bites, & donned the glissade pants getting ready for our descent. We figured we shouldn't hang on top too long since it was already 2pm & there were more clouds coming.

We retreated to the saddle & did some alternating fun glissades & traversing plunge stepping. Down down down we went. We quickly reached the minor saddle on the east ridge for some final glissading. A few postholes & falling into creeks & we reached Loch Lomond. Those that didn't have snowshoes carried on & those that did donned them as the rain started & the thunder/lightening storm began. We moved quickly into the trees. I emphasis quickly! As we reached the road, the storm was over & the sun was out to warm us up & dry us off for the final 1.5 miles. Excellent! We reached the cars at 5pm. A change into dry clothes, a cold beer, & more hugs. Dinner in Idaho Springs at Buffalo Restaurant. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Afterthougts: We were very lucky with the weather. This route takes much longer than you'd think especially with such a large group. I had never been to this basin & was suprised at the beauty of it, absolutely stunning. The students did AWESOME, for most of them it was their 1st technical alpine climb of a peak. It is a great feeling seeing the smiles on their faces when they reached the top. We even had a student from another group, Sarah, and she fit right in. My fellow instructors, like usual, rocked. This peak was just too much fun & I will definitely do it again & again!!

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