Comanche Peak – 13,277

RT Length:  12 miles

Elevation Gain:  4837’

The weather forecast for today predicted a 40% chance of snow after noon, and the snow would be minimal, so I decided to head to the Sangres to do the Comanche/Venable loop.  Spoiler alert: I only got Comanche Peak.  My vehicle was the only one in the lot when I arrived.  I was on the trail at 5am.

I decided to do the loop clockwise, starting with Comanche Peak.  The Comanche Peak trail was clearly visible from the parking area.

I followed the Comanche Trail for about half a mile, and crossed the Rainbow Trail.  I stayed straight on the Comanche Trail.

There was a register and information area

This trail is well groomed and wide.  I followed the trail all the way to Comanche Lake, switchbacking up the mountainside.   

Also, the bears are still awake…

After hiking for 4.25 miles, just before making it to Comanche Lake, there’s a junction.  I continued straight, instead of heading down to the lake

I was headed to the Comanche/Spring saddle

The hike to the saddle continued to be class 1, but what little snow there was had accumulated directly on the trail. On the positive side, the trail was easy to locate!

Just before making it to the Comanche/Spring saddle there was a cornice to navigate.  I got out my microspikes and ice axe, and kicked in steps. 

As I was doing so, I looked to my left and could see Comanche Peak

I could also see weather coming in from the west.  It wasn’t supposed to snow until later in the day, but I could feel the wind picking up, and see the snow coming in.  I’d have to re-assess my hiking plans as I went. 

It was 5.8 miles from the trailhead to the saddle.

After putting away my microspikes and ice axe, I followed the saddle south

It was an easy, class 2 hike to the summit, mostly on tundra or stable rocks. In some areas there were bits of a game/social trail

As I was hiking up the ridge towards Comanche Peak the wind picked up, and it started snowing.  I figured I’d get a picture of Spring and Venable before the snow moved in.  In less than 10 minutes, I could no longer see these peaks.

Here’s a look at the last push to the summit of Comanche Peak

There was a cairn at the summit

I summited Comanche Peak at 8:50am. 

Comanche Peak:

I turned around to head back to the Spring/Comanche saddle, and noted the lack of visibility.

I descended to the saddle, and realized the snow wasn’t going to let up any time soon.  I could have made this a loop, but the pictures would have been useless in a trip report, and navigating a fresh layer of sugary snow on the rocks didn’t sound like a fun time, so I decided to just head back the way I came, making this an out and back hike.  I’d come back later for the other two peaks.

Here’s looking back at the trail from the saddle

And back over the cornice

It continued to snow the entire trek out, but the trail was easy to follow.  A nice layer of snow started to build up on my camera, gloves, eyelashes, backpack, etc. as I hiked out.

Check out the difference in Comanche Lake from earlier this morning

Here are some pictures from the hike out.  It was neat having more snow on the trail on the way out than I’d had on the way in.  The only downside: There had been ice on the trail this morning I could avoid because I could see it.  Now it was covered in a layer of snow and not quite as visible.  I did some slipping and sliding, but managed to remain upright.

It finally stopped snowing just as I made it back to the trailhead, but a look up at the peaks let me know it was definitely still snowing above treeline.

I made it back to my truck at 11:15am, making this a 12 mile hike with 4837’ of elevation gain in 6 hours, 15 minutes.

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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