Saturday, September 21, 2013

Boreas Mountain

Boreas Mountain
For my Environmental Science class I needed to do a mini-lab at home with some soil samples, I figured what better way than include school and a little fun in the mountains.  I got in touch with Brian and he was up for a short climb so we were set for a trip up Boreas Mountain elevation 13,082ft.
We met at the Meyer Ranch lot off of HWY 285 at 7am and made our way towards Como, CO.  Boreas Pass is where the TH is for this climb and it can be reached from a variety of directions.  The common approach is from Breckenridge to the north, but we chose to come from the south via HWY 285.  As you are driving west on 285 towards Fairplay from Denver there will be a small town of Como.  County road 33 is the road that heads north into Como and is also called Boreas Pass Road.  Turn north from 285 and drive through the tiny town and enjoy the festive color of homes along the way.  On the north side of town the road turns to dirt rather quickly and from there it is about 12 miles to the pass.  There was a lot of traffic coming down the road, but the road was in great shape so just about any vehicle could make the journey up to the pass.  There is only one turn along the dirt road, just follow the signs and you shouldn’t get off track.  As we got higher up the road the aspens were starting to turn and the colors were nice, I didn’t stop along the drive so we didn’t get any pictures.  It would be a nice drive for those that are just looking to get out and see the fall colors.
Boreas Pass
At Boreas Pass there are some cabins and a few rail road relics to check out.  After the hike I did a little research and found that two of these cabins that can be rented out year round.  There is also a restroom for those needing a bit of relief.  Throughout the day we could see lots of cars stopping and walking around the pass, but nobody heading up any of the surrounding mountains. 
There is no trail heading to this summit, so be prepared for a class 2 cross country voyage.  From the pass we started hiking past the cabins heading to the east towards the main north ridge of Boreas.  There were a few levels that you rise up through the stump filled hill side, then a bit of bushwhack through some willows before reaching the base of the west side of the mountain.  We made a pretty direct line heading east and climbed right up the steep side of the mountain.  There are rock fields that and steep grass slopes leading to the ridge, just do your best to avoid the willows.  Once getting up on top of the ridge the hike is easy going, so the steep west face was the hardest part.
Quandary Peak
We took a short break after reaching the ridge for a snack and the views were amazing.  This area is becoming one of my favorite areas in Colorado, the views are endless and you are surrounded by mountains.  The remaining hike is short to the summit, there are a few rolling rocky slopes to get up but nothing too difficult.  There was a well beaten path most of the way through the rocks, so I assume this is a frequently climbed mountain.  We chose to stick to the ridge where we still had good views during the ascent, but there is a well-worn path following what looks like a moraine leading to the summit as well.  In no time we had made it to the summit.  There is a good size wind block built up and a registry left by the Colorado Mountain Club.
Mount Guyot
I dug up my soil sample and recorded all the required data, then we decided to head down after a short break.  The views are always amazing and they always get you inspired to climb new mountains.  The view of Mount Guyot was very impressive, so I look forward to my trip up that mountain in the future.  For the hike down we dropped into the moraine and followed a trail of sorts leading back to the main ridge.  After a drop of about 300ft in elevation I took another soil sample in what looked like an old mining pit, but it could have been made naturally for all I know. 
We decided to follow the ridge to the north to avoid the steep decline of the west face and I must say it was a nice route.  We crossed a few boulder fields, but it was not near as steep as the wall we climbed up on the ascent.  As we made our way down to the pass we could see 5 or 6 vehicles there, so the tourist activity was picking up even for a Wednesday.  I took my last soil sample at the pass and then we were done for the day.  It was a good hike and a short one, which we all like every now and then. 
For those of you interested in the science field trip part of the day, I was taking soil samples to test pH levels at home.  After doing a few tests at home I determined that the pH levels of the soil goes from more acidic at higher elevations to more basic at lower elevations.  So there is you fun science fact for the day.
GPS Track
Date: 9/18/2013
Starting Elevation: 11,485ft
Boreas Mountain: 13,082ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,700ft
Class: 2
Distance:  3.64 miles
Time: 2:35 moving, 0:45 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Brian

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