Andy in the Rockies

Trip reports, videos, and photos from hiking, climbing,
and mountaineering adventures in Colorado and beyond.

Rowe Peak
October 14, 2002

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Trip Report [hide]

I left Ault (a little rural town east of Fort Collins) at about 5:00. I knew it was going to be a long day so I thought the early start would be best. On the way, I needed to fill up with gas. I planned on hitting the gas station on the corner of Harmony and Taft Hill, but when I got there it was still closed. I doubled back to the gas station on Harmony and College. Luckily that one was open.

After an uneventful drive I arrived at Emmaline Lake Trailhead at 7:10. The car said it was 39o outside. It probably never got much warmer than this all day. I got my stuff together and hit the trail. The first section of trail climbed very gently and I made really good time. For a while the trail climbed through sections of forest that were burned in the 1996 Hour Glass Fire. Gradually the snags gave way live trees before the trail crossed Fall Creek.

It only took me 40 minutes of hiking to reach the junction of Mummy Pass Trail and Emmaline Lake Trail. The trail going up to Mummy Pass was quite a bit steeper and my pace slowed. The higher I got the more snow was on the trail. It wasn't deep, and other hikers had packed it down. However, it was still treacherous because it was slippery. As I popped out above tree line the temperature really started to drop. I stopped to make a clothing adjustment. I put on my long underwear, some fingerless gloves, my stocking cap, and I changed from my lightweight convertible pants to some heavier Gortex pant. I hiked this way for about fifteen minutes, but the wind really began to howl and I was cold again. I stopped once more to put a wool balaclava under my stocking cap, my Gortex jacket, and my heavy winter gloves. This last adjustment kept me nice and toasty.

After making all my stops to change clothes I arrived at the top of Mummy Pass at 9:40. As I coasted down the other side of Mummy Pass I enjoyed the fantastic view. I was gradually descending into an immense valley that was bordered by Skull Point and the slopes of Rowe Mountain on the east and south and Fall Mountain on the north. A little farther down the trail I passed a pristine little tarn that was half frozen. It couldn't have been more than an acre in size. As I hiked, I also noticed that Fall Mountain would be relatively easy to climb and I made a note that I should come back some day and bag it. By this time I was warm enough to remove my heavy winter gloves and replace them with my fingerless wool gloves. However, I continued to need the rest of my clothing.

Soon after passing the little tarn, I decided it was time that I should leave the trail and head out down into the valley on my way to Icefield Pass. I wanted to minimize the amount of elevation loss, and this seemed to be a good place to hit a happy medium between losing elevation and adding extra distance. I dropped a hundred feet or so into the valley and began working my way southeast across it. The valley consisted of small rolling hills, a nice frozen stream, and several little ponds. By 10:40 I was halfway across the valley and was beginning my ascent toward Icefield Pass.

As I neared the top of Icefield Pass I started not to feel so good. I was tired and I had developed a headache. However, I continued to push on at a good pace and made it to the top of the pass by 11:10. Even though I wasn't feeling so hot I was still able to enjoy the nice views afforded by Icefield Pass. It was quite obvious how the pass got its name because there was an impressive permanent ice field stretching from Icefield Pass upward toward Rowe Peak and Rowe Mountain.

After a short rest break, I continue onward toward Rowe Peak. I had to cross the ice field at the bottom and this was quite tricky as the ice was extremely slippery. I had to be very careful not to slip and fall. A hard fall could have been disastrous as Icefield Pass is relatively remote and probably doesn't see too many visitors. The farther I went, the worse I felt. By the time I reached the saddle between Rowe Peak and the unnamed peak to its north at 12:50 I felt horrible. My little headache turned into full-blown altitude sickness. I had a severe headache and was experiencing nausea. The view from this point was pretty cool though. From this vantage point I could see Hagues Peak, a little of Rowe Glacier, and the true summit of Rowe Peak.

Even though I was feeling terrible, the summit was so close that a gritted my teeth and pushed on. It took me twenty minutes to cover the last two hundred yards to the summit but I finally made it. The view of Hagues Peak, Rowe Glacier, and the ridge that connect Hagues Peak and Rowe Peak were impressive. Looking at the map, I thought I could easily bag Hagues Peak along with Rowe Peak, but I now realized that was a naive assumption. The connecting ridge is very rugged?far beyond someone of my minimal skill and experience. However, it looked like it might be really fun for someone with the necessary skills. If I wanted to bag Hagues I'd have to climb down and around the east end of Rowe Glacier and then up the class 2 slope to the summit of Hagues Peak. If it had been noon and I had been feeling great I might have done it. However it was much later and I felt like crap so the thought only briefly crossed my mind. Instead I opted for nap.

I awoke from my nap at 13:30. I probably would have stayed longer, but the way I had been laying had put my right leg and right arm to sleep. I promised myself that if I needed it, I could take another nap when I got down to Icefield Pass. After the nap and using the restroom I felt a little better. I took my time down to Icefield Pass and had an uneventful trip. This time I walked past the east side of the pass and looked down towards Lake Louise. This was another impressive view and there was another significant ice field on this side of the pass. By this time I was feeling much better so I decided to forgo the nap. Instead I decided to take regular rests for the remainder of the hike.

I retraced my steps across the valley back towards Mummy Pass. After passing the little tarn the trail steepened as it climbed toward the top of Mummy Pass. By the time I made it to the top of Mummy Pass at 16:30 I was exhausted again and needed another significant rest. After my rest I soldier on down Mummy Pass Trail. Soon the sun set on me because I was in the shadow of Mummy Pass. I wouldn't really see the sun for the remainder of the hike. At this point I was also sheltered from the wind so I was able to take off my jacket and balaclava. This was actually about the same place where I had to put on all my warm clothing earlier in the day.

At 18:15 I made it to the junction of Mummy Pass Trail and Emmaline Lake Trail. I knew I was starting to get to the car and I was motivated to get it over with. In another forty-five minutes I arrived back at the car. During the last ten minutes of the hike it really started to get dark. If I'd been out any later I would have had to whip out my headlamp to see where I was going. The car said it was 35 degrees. I threw my gear into the car and headed for home.

I arrived back in Ault at 20:45. I was absolutely exhausted and barely had enough energy to shower and eat before hitting the sack.

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