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Baldwin Creek Peak Bag:
Mt. Antero (14,269') and N. Carbonate (aka Unnamed 13,870')


Author: Gina Pasquale

Trip Leaders: Steve Doorn and Gina Pasquale

Participants: Ruth Lommel, Ellen Kress, Patti Krueger, Martin Staley, Don McEachern, Norm Hunter, and Tasha (the fearless climbing dog).

I'm writing this trip report in hopes that people will appreciate some of Colorado's "other" mountains.

I wasn't sure how this trip would go with so many new climbers signing up! Several had never been up a 14'er before, but they were certainly willing and quite able.

We left Friday, after work. After stopping and shuffling gear and cars at the Espanola ranger station, we headed to Alamosa for dinner (scary thought, I know). Decided to try out a restaurant I hadn't been to in years, the Hideaway (next to the pool hall). Pasta wasn't too bad, their baked potatoes (from La Jara, no doubt) were huge, and service for 8 people was pretty respectable. Quite full, we headed up towards Buena Vista.

With the 4WD's, we were able to drive up to a logistically desirable campsite at a fork in Baldwin Creek, about 10,800'. Found a wide open space, near some trees, and everyone had a decent place for a tent. (There were lots of tents!) Hopefully we didn't wake up the neighbor camped next door, as we got in pretty late.

As you know, I like my alpine starts and told people to shoot for a 6am departure for Antero. We were all off by 6:15, not bad for 8 people and a dog! It's a pretty boring walk up Antero along jeep roads, what can I say. Many people drive up nearly to the top, and we saw a guy digging for minerals up on a high saddle (or were they gems?). We all made the summit and I'm glad we got an early start, for the weather was deteriorating. We made a fast descent, keeping just ahead of the imminent downpour.

A few hundred feet down, Steve and I took a break as we caught up to Norm Hunter. Steve realized he left his water bottle at the top and we started to discuss the (monetary) worth of the bottle, versus the effort required to hike back up to get it, versus the light rain already falling. Hmmm.... Before we could come to a conclusion, Norm threw off his pack and starting sprinting back up the peak. He said something like "Be right back!". A short time later, he was back with the bottle and refused to keep it. I knew that guy had way too much energy, and I felt like a slug (no pun intended, David).

By the time we reached camp, we were all soaked. Most retired to their tents for an afternoon nap. Steve and I brewed up some soups and hot drinks to keep warm. But, of course, it cleared up in time for happy hour! Even though these folks were new to the unofficial "Mountaineer's Adventure", they had quickly caught on to the Happy Hour concept! After munchies and beer, we all fired up stoves for dinner.

After viewing the N. ridge on N. Carbonate that day, and realizing we'd have to climb part of it, and being unsure of the weather, I wanted an earlier start. I suggested 5:30am. I was surprised the next morning to find everyone ready, ON TIME! Yeah!

Being a 13'er (albeit a desirable "Centennial"), I knew we would have a bit of route finding. I was not disappointed: we had a nice, long hike through a (thankfully) not-too-dense forest. No human trails, only ones the critters created. Nobody complained about the possibility of getting lost in the forest (whew!), and we finally emerged at the edge of a drainage. I could see where we wanted to head to reach the ridge. But first, over there, a coyote!! What a nice surprise. Later on we were to see mule deer bouncing above timberline.

We took a short break before the final climb to the ridge. Weather was looking fine. Everyone took their own path and pace to reach the ridge. Another break to catch our breath and we were on our way to the summit. The ridge turned out to be quite the climbing highlight of the trip, plenty of 3rd class and some exposure too! Everyone made the summit with no problem and we huddled up as the winds were cold.

For variety (and the fact that I prefer loop trips), we decided to follow the S. ridge down before dropping into the drainage holding Baldwin Lake. I knew it would be a challenge for some of the beginning climbers, as the descent off the saddle was steep with loose rock, but everyone was enthusiastic about the idea. No problems, everyone made it down and we spent some quiet time by the scenic lake. That was to change, though (the quiet part).

Seems there was some sort of Jeep Jamboree going on and Whooppeee! people were jeeping and ATV'ing up to the lake for lunch. So, we hiked down the jeep road and allowed the jeeps to pass us. Reaching camp, we packed up and headed out.
Not wanting the trip to end too soon, Steve and I suggested a dinner at the posh Angelina's in Espanola on the way home. Most people had not been there and we told them "You're in for a real treat now!" They were not disappointed, thankfully! It was a grand event with great food!

As far as I could tell, everyone had a great time and I was pleased. They all remarked how much more fun it was to climb N. Carbonate than Antero, so...after they climb all the 14'ers they might just get hooked into climbing more 13'ers too!


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