Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mount Yale 8/13/2010

Roundtrip Mileage: 8 miles
Roundtrip Elevation: 8,600 feet
Starting Point: Denny Creek trailhead

Mount Yale from the north.

This was a really fun hike for me and, by far, harder than the other two 14ers I've done. I was out the door from home at 4:00am. That put me at the trailhead at 6:15am. I got off to a slow start due to me second guessing myself. The trail reports I had read in preparation for this hike describe a sign that you encounter at which point, you turn right. The first sign I ran into was this one.

There was a less obvious trail that went off to the right so I had to stop for a second. I was only about .25 miles into my hike when I encountered this sign so I thought it couldn't be the right one. I was correct. I just didn't know it yet. I kept on, and arrived at a stream that I had to cross to continue. It was at this point that I turned around after convincing myself I had missed the turn. On my way back I ran into a nice woman who was headed to the summit. I told her what I was doing and why. She was pretty confident she was going the right way. She was right. I just didn't know it yet. I continued on my way and her on hers. A little later I ran into a nice couple heading for the summit as well. I recounted my intentions once more and they were very sure that I was very wrong. They had a topographical map of the area that showed conclusively that I was right initially, wrong currently, and ill-prepared practically (no map). So convinced of where I was supposed to go I headed off. I've added one mile to my roundtrip mileage above due to this error. I like to see what I can push myself to do physically and now I felt at a disadvantage for having to hike extra distance so I started hiking fast. I probably shouldn't have done that. Anyways further down the trail I ran into this sign.

I'm such a dummy sometimes. After working this out I continued on and the trail began to climb much more noticeably. The views were really impressive.

Not very much further and Mount Yale came into view.

A little further still and I could see the rest of my route. I would be hiking the northwest ridge which is the left side of the summit seen here.

And then to my right I see an old friend, Mount Princeton just poking up and over the ridge.

From this point to the saddle it was grueling to say the least. I had seen on some lists that Yale was rated as a more difficult climb then Princeton or Pike's Peak. The elevation gain seemed so dramatic in the last two miles that I would have to agree to that rating of Yale. My legs were starting to really burn. I kept on at a snail's pace but felt good to be constantly moving. As I got higher up the mountain the wind increased. I actually became quite cold and I remembered my "Note to Self" from Pike's Peak to wear gloves. I should really listen to myself more often. At the saddle I experienced wind like I never have before. Roaring over the saddle the wind forced me to remove my hat and sunglasses. I was only a mere 300 vertical feet from the summit but turning back crossed my mind for a moment. I'm new to 14ers and tend to error on the side of overly cautious. After short contemplation I continued onward and upward. Route finding from here to the top became critical. Having people pass me helped a lot. When I hit the saddle I new I wouldn't be staying on top for more than about five minutes. I stayed true to that. I reached the summit at 9:56am, took a few snapshots and began my decent before 10:00am.
Mount Princeton to the south.
The little town of Buena Vista to the east.

Mount Harvard at center and Mount Columbia to the right. From the summit of Mount Yale 14,196 feet.

My hands were freezing, but on the way down I wanted to try and capture a video of the wind. I was talking loudly to the camera but you can't really make out what I'm saying. I was trying to hold my backpack up to show the force.

It was a pretty quick hike down. I got to my car at noon exactly. So 5.75 hours up and down. I know there are more difficult 14ers out there but I was glad to have Yale behind me.

Notes To Self:
-invest in maps
-buy gloves
-wind can be quite a deterrant to hiking
-buy gloves


  1. I print my maps on Nat Geo waterproof map paper (available at REI or online) from

    Have fun out there,

  2. So does Jocelyn join you for any of these hikes?

  3. Sadly, she does not Nate. I wish she would though. It would be awesome.

  4. I would love to come up and do one of these hikes with you sometime, if you wouldnt mind.

  5. Mind? I'm actively recruiting for hiking partners. I've soloed all my hikes, but not on purpose. Just can't line up schedules. This is getting to long. I'll email you.

  6. I tried to play the video but it didn't work. I can't believe you hiked in shorts!! BRRRR! Well done!