Snow starts at 12000’ and keeps going from
there. Bring microspikes. Snowshoes weren’t needed.
I can see tons of potential avalanche danger on
this hike with more snow.
The lower Mt Princeton Road Trailhead is
actually pretty nice.
The road from here to the radio towers wasn’t as
bad as I’d been led to believe. It was definitely
4WD, but it wasn’t that difficult. The
only down side was it was narrow, so if you came across another vehicle it
would take a bit of maneuvering to get around each other. I have a Tundra, so this was an issue for
me. Two Jeeps wouldn’t have an
issue. Side note: the trail was dry when I took it. If it was wet or had snow or ice it would
probably be much more technical to navigate.
I could see several dry gullies I’m assuming flow over the road when it
There are spots to park your vehicle at the
radio towers, but they aren’t obvious, and they’re tight. I had ‘fun’ turning around my truck when I
discovered the road was one way in and out.
I began at 6am. For
anyone wanting to know what it looks like hiking in the dark, here you go:
This was my first view of Mt Princeton
The trail after the towers begins on road 322A. It can be difficult to find the towers in the
dark, but if you’ve driven 3 miles since the lower trailhead and come upon a
sharp curve, you’ve missed the towers.
It was pretty cool to look back on Buena Vista and see it
covered in fog and haze
The first couple of miles follow the 4WD road up 322A. Then the real trail starts up to the right of
the hillside. There’s no sign, except
this wonderful, um, arrow of rocks? pointing the way.
As soon as you get up this small hill you get a great view
of Mt. Princeton.
From here snow at minimum lined the trail for the rest of
the hike, and at most completely covered it.
I put on my microspikes and continued on.
Shadowselfie, because I do that type of thing
At this point I was thinking it was probably a good thing I
had snow on the trail, since I was probably walking over a lot of scree. I prefer snow to scree any day.
Oh, and when I turned back around I saw the SUNRISE! Colorado 14er sunrises are AMAZING!!
When I got to the top of the ridge I noticed a wind wall in
front of me and a mountain to my left. I
got out my Peakbagger app, and discovered it was Tigger Peak (13,280). It was only .3 miles away, so I made note of
the location to hike on the way back.
I turned right and got a good look at the rest of the hike
up Mt. Princeton. From here it’s .7miles
to the top. There was a pretty good
trail for most of the way, but when it was covered in snow I just followed the
ridge to the right.
Some places had a lot of snow and I did a bit of post holing
Others were bare
I summited to an absolutely beautiful view! Here’s photo proof I summited:
The weather reports said 40 degrees with 25-30 MPH winds and
45MPH gusts, so I dressed warmly (multiple layers, hats, scarves, etc.) Either I did an excellent job over dressing,
or it wasn’t that cold out. I barely had
any wind for the entire hike, except on the exposed ridges.
At this point I turned to head back down Mt Princeton’s
ridge. Take a look at Tigger Peak!
It took a lot longer to hike down than I remembered hiking
up, but I had to be very careful of foot placement. Despite microspikes it was still slippery. I ended up tripping once and hitting my left
knee pretty hard. I felt silly and
The trail to Tigger Peak had a ridge and what I considered a
false summit. And due to the recent
snow, no trail. Well, I’m assuming it’s
due to the recent snow. It might not
have a trail at all anyway? In any
event, there wasn’t a visible trial, so I got to make my own! I considered this a very awesome opportunity,
and I was careful to make sure my steps were secure.
On the ridge between the two small what I considered summits
of Tigger Peak it happened:
I was on a part of the route with exposed rock (no
snow). I lifted my right foot to take a
step, and abruptly pirouetted and started falling towards the rocks. You see, when I’d tripped earlier apparently
I’d tripped on broken microspikes: One
of the hooks holding them together had come loose, and now, when I’d lifted my
foot, the hook on my left microspike attached to my right microspike, and I
fell down like that giant in Jack and the Beanstock with the tied
shoelaces. It all happened in slow
motion. In fact, I had time to curse
twice. (Side note, I don’t actually
cuss, so I said “Gosh Darn It! Flibbity-gibbit” (seriously)).
I’m not going to lie, it hurt. But I didn’t sit there. As soon as my knee hit the rock and I could, I
untangled myself, got up, and started hiking.
I could tell nothing was broken, but it stung badly. The best way to fix this (I know from
experience) is to walk/hike it off. So I
kept going, looking down at my knee every few seconds, expecting to see
blood. Luckily that never happened.
I’m proud to say I continued on up and over the second ridge
and summited my first 13er! (yes, I know it isn’t “official”)
This is the first time I’ve forged a trail on snow, and I
was pretty proud of myself! Oh, but I
had to prove I was in the right spot, so I took a picture of my Peakbagger app
indicating I was on the peak
And a picture of my GPS, showing where I was
And as I looked across the mountain range, I snapped a
picture of this cloud that looks like a pufferfish? Yoda? Floating
majestically over Mt Antero.
Then I headed back.
It was cool following my tracks!
So now I had a serious dilemma: My microspikes were broken. I’d slipped and fallen hard twice, but I knew
the hike would be much worse without them.
This is what I still had to hike (well, about 3 times this, as the trail
looped all the way around the mountain, remember those earlier snow pictures?):
So I made the decision to hike with the broken microspikes,
but to be very, very careful (slow). I
kept my feet wide apart from each other:
I waddled, felt like a pregnant woman, and my pace was slow, but I didn’t
slip again! I was excited to make it
back to 12000’ where the snow stopped and I could take off my microspikes. This was also where I met my first hiker of
the day: A newby without spikes but with
a good and realistic attitude (he was prepared to turn back but wanted to see
how far he could go). I also met a group
of 5 or 6 friends hiking with a dog: ON
A LEASH! Major points to these
people. They were friendly too!
I made it back to my truck at 11:30pm, which wasn’t a great
time for a 7.5 mile hike, but I’ll allow it because I was hiking on extended
fields of snow for the first time, I forged my own trail and I was being extra
careful on the way down. Here’s a
picture of the towers
The Mt Princeton Summit Sticker can be found here