Mt Princeton in Winter – 14,197 and Tigger Peak – 13,300

RT Length: 15.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 5615’

There was a fairly recent conditions report on this peak, I so I chose it figuring there’s be a trench to treeline.  I had some appointments I needed to be back home by 4pm for, and this seemed like a logical choice for today.

I arrived late, as I woke up to 6 inches of snow at home and had to shovel my driveway before leaving the house.  The roads were icy so I took the drive slow.  I pulled into the parking lot just before 5am and was surprised to find a fresh layer of snow on the ground.  The entire lot was covered, and there were no tracks from any other vehicles.  I parked near the entrance and put on my gear.  I was on the trail by 5am.

The trail starts at the west end of the parking area.  There’s a bathroom and plenty of parking and excellent signage.

I followed this road (Mt Princeton Road/322) as it switchbacked up the east side of the mountain.  I was the first one making tracks, and wore my microspikes the entire day (but lugged along snowshoes).

I continued following the road 3.3 miles to the communication towers

At the towers I turned left and followed trail/road 322A

This is where the snow started getting deep.  There wasn’t a visible trench, so I postholed a bit, but was stubborn and didn’t put on my snowshoes.

I was still following the road, but there was a lot of snow in this area.  The drop-offs were steep (better pictures later, just be aware of avy danger here).

I followed the road to treeline, and then gained the ridge to the right (continuing on this road will take you to the Lucky Mine, and another access point to summit Tigger, but I found the snow was too steep covering the road and decided against that route)

Once on the ridge it was windblown, and I could easily see the summer trail. 

At this point, what I should have done was gone straight up and over Tigger Peak. 

But the trail looked easily to follow, and the mountain looked windblown, so I continued to follow the summer route.  Here’s the overall summer route

As I said earlier, I was following the mostly bare trail.  I crossed a couple of slide areas without difficulty, and then came to one that gave me pause.  I could see remnants of old footprints/tracks in the snow further ahead, but I did not feel comfortable crossing this section this morning, even though I had my ice axe and gear. A slip would have been too costly, especially since I hike solo.

I decided instead to change direction immediately and head south to the ridge, rock hopping to the top.  Most of these rocks were large, and luckily, few of them moved.  The snow in-between the rocks was troublesome at times, and I postholed to my waist, but I felt more comfortable with this route.

Once on the ridge I followed it northwest to the summit.  There were several social trails here, but staying on the ridge proper, or going slightly east worked well.

I made it to the summit at 10:45am

Mt Princeton:

It was a gorgeous day above treeline!  However, I had plans and needed to bet back down.  I decided to head back over Tigger Peak.  Circled is the small slide area I wished to avoid

Here are some pictures of the ridge to Tigger Peak, complete with a few small false summits

From Tigger Peak, here’s looking at the descent point

I continued hiking the ridge, and then started the longest part of my day:  rock hopping back down to the trail.  I just had to head northeast, and I could see the trail in front of me, but a lot of these rocks moved and progress was painstakingly slow.  Here’s the route

From there I picked up the trail and followed it back to the road

And followed the road back down to the trailhead. 

Here are some better pictures of how steep some sections on the road were

Something cool:  I was the first to make prints on my way in, but on my way out I saw coyote prints following my tracks.  Some of the prints were directly in my footsteps.  Looks like I had a stalker.

The snow on the road became slushy as I descended. 

It was downright muddy by the time I made it back to my truck

I didn’t see another person the entire day, which was a shame because it was a perfect day to be above treeline!

I made it back to my truck at 2:45pm, much later than I’d originally anticipated.  Luckily, I had cell reception and could call my appointments and move them to 6pm.  This ended up being a 15.4 mile hike with 5615’ of elevation gain in 9 hours, 45 minutes.

You can buy the Mt Princeton summit sticker here

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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