Mt. Yale (14,196')
miles hiked: 9.0
elevation gained: 4,300 feet
As the two of us had just climbed 7 fourteeners in the past 12 days alone, Mt. Yale offered a different kind of experience for us as we were joined on the climb by a relatively large group of friends. We decided on an early rise: 4:30 am. This, we figured, provided ample time to head-start the crowds of Fourth of July weekend. When we arose, however, we were greeted by a smother of gray clouds and several waves of cold rain that forced us to retreat to our tents and re-think our plans. We reset our alarm clocks to 6:00 for a second evaluation.
Rising for the second time, it turned out, was mysteriously more difficult for most of the members of our group, but a pale-blue blanket hovered above us: not a cotton-ball or mare's tail in sight. This troubled collision of good and bad weather proved to be a lingering theme for the day.
Once on the trail we all settled into our own paces, and I found myself, after only a switchback or two, alone with my thoughts. This separation persisted all the way to Yale's summit where we were eventually reunited.
The hike up Yale is long, but not as long as some of the others in the Sawatch Range. It is relatively short, in fact, when compared to Missouri or Harvard. After several miles of mostly moderate elevation gain, the trail steepened and emerged from the trees. Yale's southern ramparts came into view at last. As is true of most Sawatch climbs, the view was spectacular.
|Approach to Mt. Yale
As I climbed the last switchbacks through the scree to the saddle of Yale's west ridge, it was apparent that solitude was not going to be a part of the day. A trail crew twenty members strong was hard at work reinforcing the switchbacks to battle the erosion caused by too many boots. A dotted line of climbers also graced the slopes both above and below me.
|looking down the route from above
|the view north from 13,800'
|Yale's summit ridge
|The Three Apostles shrouded by clouds
|Mt. Harvard, Mt. Columbia, and the Horn Fork Basin
Once everyone had had their fill of wind and scenery, we began the long descent back to the trailhead.
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