London Mountain – 13,194

RT Length:  10.63 miles

Elevation Gain: 2305’

I was looking for another quick summit this week, and was halfway to the trailhead before I remembered the road to Mosquito pass would most likely be snowed in, adding about 5 miles to the hike.  Oh well, I should still be able to make it an early day.  I made it to where the road for Mosquito Pass and 12 meet and due to previous experience with this road in winter decided to park at this junction.  I could have driven about a mile up Mosquito Pass road, but eventually the drifts would have made it necessary to find a place to park.  By parking below I’d be getting in some extra mileage (if not much elevation gain). 

I parked, gathered my gear, and headed up Mosquito Pass road at 6am.

I was excited to try out my new camera.  I tend to go through cameras quickly, as I put them through a ton of use in extreme conditions.  The last time I purchased a camera I bought one that was less expensive, reasoning since I buy them so often I’d like to spend less money.  I found out the hard way cameras that are point and shoot don’t operate well when it’s less than 30 degrees outside. 

The past few weeks I’ve been using a stylus with my iPhone, but I’ve found when it’s extremely cold out even the stylus doesn’t work (although warming the stylus up in my mouth sometimes helps).  After my climbing accident at Garden of the Gods last week where I not only came out road-rashed and bruised but also I crushed my stylus, I decided to just purchase another DSLR.  Yes, they’re heavy, but they withstand the cold.

I hiked along the dirt road for 2.5 miles.  The conditions were varying, and I was glad to have worn my microspikes.

About a mile in was the furthest anyone has been able to drive recently

I passed North London Mill

After passing North London Mill I turned left at the junction

It was here the sun began to rise and I started trying out my new camera

It was also here I started postholing more than I could stand.  I decided to put on my snowshoes, and wore them until I made it to the Mosquito/London saddle

I followed the road up to London Mine

At times the road was completely covered in drifts

The road was covered in snow as I got closer to the mine, so I just had to kind of wing it.

The moon was just going behind the ridge as I reached the mine

I continued past the mine, heading west

And followed the road to the saddle.  From a distance this road looks mild, but I’ve taken this route in winter before, and the drifts can get pretty steep and go down quite a ways into the drainage (the pictures don’t do the drop offs justice).  It’s a good idea to have traction and an ice axe for this part in winter

I made it to the London/Mosquito saddle and took off my snowshoes, turned left, and followed London’s ridge southeast.

This ridge goes for almost exactly a mile.  After initially skirting to the right, I was able to stick to the ridge proper the entire time, and only postholed a few times in the snow.  This is all class 2, with the snow making it an easy class 3 in just a few areas.  Also, I didn’t remember it until I got back home and looked at my pictures, but the one drawback of this camera are the sun spots when directly facing the sun.  I know what causes them, I just need to be more diligent in the future against preventing them.  Here’s the ridge route, with a bunch of false summits:

About halfway along the ridge I heard a loud buzzing, looked around, and saw a biplane flying very low.  I watched it go around the mountains and through the passes.  So cool!  I wanted to wave, but didn’t think they could see me, and also worried they might think I needed help if I did. 

Here’s the final trek to the summit

I summited London Mountain at 8:30am

London Mountain Summit

I had a good view of Monday’s summit:  Pennsylvania Mountain

Here’s the trek back down the ridge

Yes, this is all class 2/easy class 3 to avoid snow

And back towards the mine

Here I heard another loud buzzing and saw a helicopter fly overhead.  It didn’t look like a rescue helicopter.

Here’s the path the road takes back down

I made it back to where I’d put on my snowshoes, took them off, and turned right onto 12 and followed it back to my truck.  About halfway back my microspikes broke, both of them, so I guess it’s time to get out the needle nose pliers again.  I made echoing clanking sounds as the chains scraped the dirt as I walked the rest of the way back.

I made it back to my truck at 10:45am, making this a 10.63 mile hike with 2305’ of elevation gain in 4 hours, 45 minutes

Here’s a topo map of my route:

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

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