Mount Meeker (13,911'), Colorado
Author: Gina Pasquale
Steve Doorn and Gina Pasquale
Mt. Meeker, located in Rockey Mountain National Park just across the Loft from Longs Peak, is another of Colorado's 100 highest and would be #99 on Gina's quest to climb them all. We cruised up the day before the climb and rolled into the Longs Pk. campground (first come-first serve, tents only) around five--just in time to grab the last available campsite. We rolled over to the ranger station parking lot at 4 the next morning to find it already filled by the Longs Pk. hopefuls. We hiked up the trail to the patrol cabin below Chasm Lake, arriving there around 6AM. Our route up Meeker would be the Iron Gates route that brings you up to the NE Ridge.
The route starts on talus slopes that lead to the "Iron Gates" (spooky!)--a pair of buttresses on the east end of Meeker's north face. Half way up to the gates we were treated to a fantastic crimson glow on the Diamond. Once through the gates, we followed a gully straight up to the NE ridge. The last 100 feet before the ridge involved some fun class 3 scrambling. At this point we had the good luck of seeing a marten (about twice the size of a weasle) darting in and out of the rocks hunting for marmots. The route then follows the ridge to the east summit of the peak and involves an occasional class 3 move over big granite slabs. The views down the sheer north wall of Meeker are dizzying and Longs Pk was always in view. The final approach to the summit involves crossing an exciting knife edge. The knife edge reminded us of Capitol's. Not quite as much exposure, but Meeker's was longer and maybe a little more difficult and involved a few more of those uncomfortable straddling maneuvers. The knife edge could be avoided by dropping several hundred feet down on the peak's south side, but that wouldn't be any fun. Meeker's summit is a large boulder that requires a couple tricky moves to get on top. Our descent was through the Loft. Route finding was pretty straightforward--just follow the cairns through the steep section (don't slip!). After the descent we lazed around Chasm Lake for a few hours watching the intrepid parties on the Casual Route trying to hurry out of the oncoming rain.
The following day we intended to climb the Sharkstooth (6 pitch 5.6--see Mike Sullivan's 1997 report). Our approach was through Loch Vale then up to the Gash just below the Andrews glacier. Our arrival at the Gash gave us some wonderful views of the Sharkstooth (it definitely lives up to its name) floating in and out of the thick clouds that were being rapidly blown across the ridgeline. Unfortunately, it would not be a good day to climb so we turned back. Spent the rest of the day hiking over to Sky Pond to catch a glimpse of the Petit Grepon--no-one was climbing on it either. The hiking in Loch Vale is quite beautiful, with many lakes and waterfalls to see. Don't miss the falls flowing out of Glass Lake. After much dallying along the trail, we finally headed back to the truck knowing we'd be back to climb the Sharkstooth someday.