route finding in the snow
(2nd try succeeds on Blodgett Peak)

17 Feb 2007 - by Patrick Lilly

After failing in an afternoon summit bid on this peak (9,423 ft., 38.9588N, 104.9071W) in the fall of 2005, I went back before sunrise on 17 February, 2007. There was no one at the small Blodgett Peak Open Space trailhead parking lot when I arrived at about 6:30. (The "Open Space" was only recently acquired by the city of Colo. Spgs., and overnight parking is not allowed. The TH is on the west side of the northern extremity of Woodmen Road.)

The trail is an old dirt road up to the water tower. From there, it is a true trail, which is hard to find in places. What's more, there are multiple sections of trail leading here and there, one reason I got misdirected the first time. I was hoping that tracks in the snow (there had been a light snowfall just the previous day) would help me find my way through the trees and rocks. They did, but I still ended up deliberately going in a circle to try a different route, after failing to find a good way around a rock outcropping. At one point, the trail goes through a narrow space between two house-sized boulders; pretty cool. The day dawned, and stayed clear and calm, just as I had hoped. The temperature was below freezing when I started out, but a couple of light insulating layers under my windbreaker were quite sufficient. Basically, the route leads first northwest and then southwest, up the east slopes, and finally into an east-facing drainage which tops out in a saddle southwest of the peak, between it and UN 9,491. (Why the higher peak isn't named, while Blodgett is, is just one of those historical oddities. Blodgett is much more symmetrically shaped, and easier to see from the east, however.)

Once well up into this drainage, I could usually see the ridge containing the summit looming above me, but was still only seeing sections of trail or occasional cairns. I finally decided to quit fighting the deadfall in the drainage bottom, and strike out to the north and up through the rocks. This brought me out onto the ridge somewhat east of the summit, but it improved my views a lot; I could see the summit not too far away. I got there at 9:25. The views are great. There are a few higher peaks in the Rampart Range, but not by much. Thus, Pikes Peak is clearly visible, as are more distant peaks to the west, including several fourteeners. To this point, I had seen no one.

I did encounter a few people on the descent, including one other runner who passed me like I was standing still not far from the bottom. By this time, the snow wass getting soft and mushy, with mud here and there, so I was glad to be nearly done. I made it back to the parking lot by 11:30.

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