Las Animas County High Point Trip Report

West Spanish Peak

Date: May 10, 2003
Author: Patrick Thornley

Got the "summer" climbing season going this weekend with an relatively early summit. Forest Service advised the road was open to Cordova Pass, if you had 4 wheel drive. Used the Mitchler & Covill book instructions, as is usual, directions flawless. It was a 3 hour drive from Colorado Springs to the trailhead with a friend who doesn't mind getting up early on the weekend. Clear skies and cold winds upon opening the doors, hastily added layers of clothing. Left snowshoes in truck as snow in the woods was fairly hard.

Left the truck at 8:20 AM, promptly lost the trail in the deep snow in the woods but with the peak looming in the distance, no problem determining which way to head. We found bits and pieces of the trail in the woods, followed promptly by losing it again, eventually reached the end of the trail and the beginning of the climb -- straight up for around 1600 feet of loose stuff, sometimes easier heading up the snow field when not too crusty. Last 100 yards to summit up surprisingly hard-packed snow. Luckily we had dragged ice axes along, right tool for the job, probably not necessary, but sure added something to safety.

Summit at 12:07 PM, not race speed, but not too bad for the first real climb of the season for me. Wandered the summit ridge to hit all top points, no register found, still too windy, probably steady 30 mph with gusts in excess of 50 mph, around 15-20 degrees F. Still, with axes out, plunge-stepped most of the way down to tree line, found shelter from the wind for a belated lunch. Closer to 40 degrees in the sun down in the woods, wandered back to truck losing the trail again and again, softer snow made me wish we hadn't left the snowshoes in the truck, but at least I hadn't carried them the whole way to the top.

Back at truck around 3, back to La Veta for salt, sugar, and caffeine, home to Colorado Springs for a late dinner.