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.