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Mount Hope 13er Climb, Colorado

May 21, 2006

Author: Jan Studebaker

Photo Gallery: Jan Studebaker, Click here to view

Trip Participants: Jeff Click and Jan Studebaker

I meet Jeff Click on a 10th Mountain Hut cross country ski trip in February.  We hit it off right away, and ended up skiing together everyday with our friend Kurt Short.  Jeff came up with the idea of doing some spring snow climbs, and invited me and Kurt to join him.  Neither of us could make Jeff's first ascent of Quandary Peak, but I was available for his planned ascent of Mount Hope.  Mount Hope is a gorgeous high thirteeneer (13,933 feet) in the Sawatch Range near Leadville, Colorado.

Jeff toping out on Mount Hopes final scramble.

We drove up to Leadville on May 20th and stayed at the Leadville Super 8.  That evening, after checking out the local sporting goods store, and a great prime rib dinner at Quincy's,  we readied our gear for a direct snow and ice ascent on the classic "Hopeful Couloir".  This is Hope's premier mountaineering route on the rugged northeast face.  Note:  we recommend Gerry Roach's "Colorado Thirteeners" as a great guide book for this and other 13ers.

We got up at 4:00 am for a quick cold breakfast in our room, then drove to the Sheep Gulch Trailhead which we had found the day before.  We started the steep 2.5 mile hike to Hope Pass at 5:00 am.  We hiked the 4,073 vertical feet to Hope Pass (12,540') to gain our first view of our route that would start 340 vertical feet below us to the north.  The view was breathtaking and expansive from the pass.

After checking the conditions we decided that we should have been camping at the base of the climb so that we could be on the route by 4:00 am.  The sun was already quite warm, a large cornice loomed ominously over our route, the snow was already softening, and there was some sign of very small avalanches.  We decided to climb the East Ridge "classic" route instead.

The 1400' route starts at Hope Pass and goes directly up (due west) the obvious ridge to the top.  The relatively easy route was exciting at points, and required our ice axes at places and a bit of 4th class climbing at the top (see photo above) due to our desire to stay off the snow as much as possible.

After the obligatory summit photos and lunch we decided not to backtrack the ridge route, but instead to forge our own route down the most direct way to the car.  The direct south route was composed of some snow, a great deal of boulder and talus hopping, and circumnavigation of several cliffs.  We noted often, as seen from our photo gallery, that we had made the correct decision in abandoning our original objective.......avalanches were prolific in the area.  It turned out to be more difficult than we expected, but it was definitely interesting!  We arrived at the car at about 4:00 pm, thus giving us an 11 hour climb.  The total vertical for the day was 8,146' counting up and down.......we felt it all!

We both agreed that this was an exceptionally beautiful, and truly memorable climb.  We saw only one other person on our climb; another great reason to climb 13ers!  Jeff hopes to go back and try the couloir in the manner described above.......I'll probably sleep in.

Click here to view our Mount Hope Gallery.


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