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Mt. Orton - Aborted, Wild Basin, RMNP - Colorado, United States

by jimlarkey  
with a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx
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Mt. Orton is only a minor peak in RMNP; so why climb it?  It is on the North Ridge massive of Chiefs Head, the 3rd highest peak in RMNP.  The summit of Mt. Orton offers a commanding view of the Continental Divide, and many of the major peaks in the area, such as Longs and Meeker.

Our goal was to snowshoe and climb Mt Orton (11,724') from the Wild Basin TH (8,480'), bushwhacking up the Sandbeach Creek, and descending Hunters Creek to the TH.  Unfortunately we aborted, due to concerns about running out of daylight because of a road closure, adding an additional 2 miles, and deteriorating weather.

EveryTrail.com does not allow for differentiation between multiple tracks.  So the outer loop was our planned route, and the inner, our actual route.  Additionally, the "END" pin was our actual start and end point, and the "GO" pin was our planned TH, which we found closed.

Our trip began hiking up the Thunder Lake Trail, until we went off-trail to join a ridge that parallels Sandbeach Creek.  Our CMC group bushwhacked up the ridge line and made the abort decision at the meadow, south of and below Sandbeach Lake.  It was evident from the wind blowing across the open  meadow. that an attempt on Mt Orton, above treeline, would be difficult and time consuming.

Alternatively, we bushwhacked up to and across Sandbeach Lake (10,283'), and began our descent on the Sandbeach Trail.  I had hiked the Sandbeach Lake Trail earlier in the year, and under much more comfortable conditions.  We were glad to begin our descent.

After hiking for about a mile on the trail, we left the trail, and bushwhacked down  Hunters Creek.  The descent was easy until we got to the 9,400' contour.  At that point, we began bushwhacking down a 1,000' slope with a 30° angle of repose.  The deadfall was snagging our snowshoes, as well as the standing tree limbs and brush.  The crampons on our snowshoes would just barely hold on the snow-covered slope, with an occasional surprise slip.

We finally made it down to the vacant Ranger Station, and hiked out to the winter parking area.  It was 4:00pm.  Had we chose to push for the summit, we would have had to negotiate the Hunters Creek slope with headlamps.  Not a pleasant thought!
Be prepared with headlamps if you're doing this hike in the winter.  There likely is not enough daylight.
Mt Orton, Hunters Creek, RMNP, Wild Basin, Sandbeach Lake, Sandbeach Creek, Bushwhack
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Trip Info
December 12, 2009
Ort: Allenspark, Colorado, United States
Länge: 15.6 miles
Duration: 9 hours
Activity: Snowshoeing
Tour 1,526 mal angesehen
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