Mt Bethel

24 Oct 2001 - by Darcy Straub

Although only 12,700', Mt. Bethel is a prominent peak as one drives up I-70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel. I've often experienced a desire to climb this peak while driving by, or worse yet, while picking up trash.

I started from the Herman Gulch TH, walked about a quarter mile along I-70 and proceeded to head straight up the prominent avalanche chute which I'm sure you all have noticed in the winter time. Although the climb isn't technically tough, the chute is steep, loose, and tangled with vegetation. I was happy to have my hiking poles along, as this made travelling much easier.

At the top of the chute, the S face of Bethel forces you to go E or W and to gain a ridge. I went west, gained the ridge and hiked past the snow fences on Bethel's west slopes. The snow fences hold special meaning to me. During my water law class at DU Law, my professor asked if anybody had seen these fences before. I noted I had. He wanted to make the point that the fences were installed to trap water by collecting snow for some water user, thereby allowing a water user to establish some water rights. I, however, answered "They're there to prevent snow loading in an avalanche chute that threatens I-70." He "acknowledged" that they might be there for that reason too. Guess my answer was more enlightening than he anticipated.

Anyway, I descended towards the saddle to the north before heading down the gentle slopes on the east. This descent route is much easier than my ascent route.


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