Venable Peak – 13,334- Attempt

RT Length:  11.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3921’

I made it to the trailhead late the night before, and slept in the cab of my truck.  Well, I tried to sleep. Unfortunately, there was internet access at this trailhead.  This meant I was scrolling through my phone until 1 in the morning.  I hit the snooze button three times before waking up to dawn approaching.  I threw on my gear, waved at the hunter who just pulled up in the parking area, and was on the trail at 7am.  This morning I was taking the Venable Trail, which is clearly marked from the parking area.

I followed the trail as it crossed over a bridge

After hiking for half a mile, I came to a junction with the Rainbow Trail, and continued straight, following the Venable Trail (1347). 

Just after this junction there was a trail register.  I signed it, and continued following the Venable Trail southwest

This is a class 1 trail.  Today’s conditions varied, from being covered with ice, to being bare dirt, to several inches of snow. 

After hiking for 2.5 miles, I came to the junction for Venable Falls.  Here I continued straight on the trail, towards Venable Lakes

The trail increasingly became more snow covered, but no traction was necessary.  Of course, most of the snow present was directly on the trail.  This is where I was headed

I rounded this hill (lower Venable Lake is to the right)

And after 5 miles of hiking, I made it to the lower Venable Lake

I kept following the trail

After hiking a total of 5.5 miles I came to what I assumed was a junction (it was covered in snow and the sign was missing:  only a post remained). I turned left and took Comanche Trail (1345) towards the pass.

I now had a good view of the rest of my route to the pass

More and more snow started accumulating on the trail.  It was sugary, so I put on my microspikes.  I had snowshoes, but the snow was so sugary they wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

It was slow going, and I had to spend a lot of time making a solid path in some areas through the snow, doing my best to hug the cliff, not entirely sure how wide the trail was.  I was doing find until I got to this area:

I was about 200 feet from the pass, and the snow drifts were now taller than I was.  I kept seeing snow slide down below my feet, over the cliffs, and made the decision to turn back. It hurt to turn back, but I knew it was for a good reason: I’m out here solo, and while I might have made it past the snow/cornice to the pass, I couldn’t have done so safely, and a fall would have been fatal.  The red arrow is where I turned around. You can see the tracks where I stopped

Just for reference, I was able to summit this peak via the Comanche trail the next day.  Here’s what the pass looked like from above

And look at how close I’d been to the summit of Venable! 

For those of you interested in taking this route, this is how I summited Venable the next day.  I took the solid line up, the dotted line down.  Both were class 2 (although the ridge had quite a bit of snow)

However, I wasn’t summiting today. Instead, I turned around and hiked the 6 miles back to the trailhead. 

On my way out I made plans to hike Venable and Spring from the Comanche Trail the next morning.  Added bonus: I didn’t have to drive to another trailhead, since the Venable and Comanche Trailheads share a parking lot.  I made it back to my truck at 12:30pm, which gave me plenty of time to read, drink whiskey, talk to hunters, and get some rest before tomorrow’s attempt.

Here’s a topo map from today’s attempt, and another along with the route I took the next day

You can find my successful Venable trip report here.

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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