Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mount Bethel

Mount Bethel From I-70
Well another day of crappy weather in the forecast, so what’s new?  A 70% chance of downpour and possibility of thunderstorms had me really guessing on where to go.  I really wanted to head up Rosalie, but with a forecast like this I knew a shorter climb would be ideal.  Since I was in the Loveland area the other day and had been scoping out Mount Bethel I figured why not head up there.  The pros of Bethel are the mileage should be under 5 and the elevation gain is around 2,000ft vertical, so in theory this could be a short climb.  The cons, I have to drive I-70 again through the tunnel construction which is a total bummer…oh well, Bethel it is.
This is a simple TH to get to if you read my last report because it’s the same one.  For those of you that didn’t read the last report this is for you: Take I-70 Westbound from Denver and take exit 216.  Take and immediate right as you are coming off the freeway onto a dirt road.  Drive to the end of the dirt road to a gate, this is about half mile.
The Route to the Summit
I decided to go with my heavy duty boots today since I knew this route would be steep.  They didn’t feel too good at first along the trail, but soon felt better when I was climbing through the boulders.  I wouldn’t recommend trail runners on this one, then again to each their own.  Start up the old road past the gate, eventually somewhere a little under a mile the road disappears and the path turns into a trail.  As you are making your way around the south flank of Mount Trelease, Dry Gulch opens up and you will have clear shots of Hagar and the Citadel along with Mount Bethel to your right.
There wasn’t much beta online about this mountain, so I kind of relied mainly on my own route finding abilities for this one.  I knew from my vantage point on Trelease a few days prior that there was a nice big gully heading up to the saddle, so that was my plan, from there I would just improvise.  I followed the Dry Gulch trail till I thought I was to the main gully.  I immediately found a really good game trail and started making my way up the left side of the creek.  Just follow the trail as far as you can, it will lead you all the way through the tree line to a split on a small plateau. 
The Summit Ridge
From tree line you can make the choice to take the easy hike to the saddle or just attack it head on.  Well I felt like a climb not a hike so I went straight up the steep rocks.  It was a lot of fun and only class 2+, I would say it would be near impossible to make a class 3 out of this route.   The best part about heading straight up is vertical feet start flying by pretty quickly.  I guess my heart rate rises exponentially, but that was something I monitored by adjusting my pace as I went.  All in all there was probably a good 1,000ft of direct in your face vertical that I worked my way up before reaching the summit ridge.  I recommend this route, for a short hike you might as well make it interesting.
The point I came up on the summit ridge was only about 50ft or so away from the true summit, so looks like I planned that pretty good.  Once on top I could feel the chill in the air, there was some moisture in the air, but it never truly rained.  I put on my jacket and had a bite to eat.  I texted my friend LT and Kristi and decided it was probably time to be on my way.  I had no desire to be up high if there was going to be a downpour.
Me on the Summit of Bethel
I chose to make a loop out of it and just head down the southwest ridge directly back to the trail.  In doing this I headed to the snow fences and made my way down from there.  My toes were hitting the ends of my boots so I stopped to tighten up the laces and got lucky and spotted a group of Ptarmigans.  I’m starting to think these birds are as common as marmots are in Colorado, I guess it just depends where you are.  I took my time down through the “gates” as I called it, because it was very steep.  This could be a route up, but not as enjoyable as the one I had.  This was more grass covered than rock covered, so I think it could get boring quick seeing the same thing for 1,000+ vertical feet.
Once down to tree line I could spot many game trails, just not too many in the direction I wanted to travel.  Eventually I found a few and they took me down to the road about ¾ mile from my rig.  Once I hit the road I ditched my vest and had to loosen up my boots so my toes could get blood again.  On the remaining bit of the hike I ran into two people on their way up Dry Gulch and chatted with them for a minute.  I was surprised to see two additional cars on the road.  The good thing was I had the mountain and the summit to myself. 
This climb was a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it.  Just be aware that it is steep both up and down, but there are multiple variations that could be created in order to summit.  The climb reminded me a lot of my days climbing mountains in Idaho and those are good memories to bring back.  Since this was a little one, I just may have to get out again tomorrow, but we will just see how it goes.
GPS Track

Date: 8/7/2013
Starting Elevation: 10,560ft
Mount Bethel Summit: 12,705ft
Total Gained Elevation: 2,145ft
Class: 2+
Distance: 3.83 miles
Time: 2:49 moving, 1:00 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Solo

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