Mount Lindsey: Colorado fourteener of the week No. 27

Published: June 20, 2013, 9:00 am

Photo by Josh Friesema, Special to The Gazette

By Josh Friesema Special to The Gazette -

Mount Lindsey was named after Malcolm Lindsey, former president of the Colorado Mountain Club.

Lindsey originally was named Old Baldy, as were at least three other peaks at the time. Mountains with Baldy as part of their names are common in Colorado but not befitting such a noble peak. This mountain was Malcolm Lindsey’s favorite fourteener, and he led many of the CMC’s junior members on trips to its summit. Shortly after his death, the Colorado Mountain Club petitioned to change the name to honor him.

Half of Lindsey lies on private property, and the original routes are not accessible to the public. However, the current standard route is majestic. The approach ascends along a tributary of the Huerfano River. The roaring falls splash flowers that line the banks, giving them the water they need to bloom in an explosion of color.

When the trail reaches tree line, your attention will be diverted from Lindsey by the dramatic north face of Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point. This 1,000-foot wall of granite is frighteningly dramatic. On each of my trips up Lindsey, I have paused at a small lea just off the trail to enjoy breakfast with a view. It’s a great spot to recharge mentally and physically.

When the trail reaches the saddle of Lindsey and Huerfano Peak, the crux comes into view. About 500 vertical feet must be gained via a gully that parallels the ridge line to Lindsey’s false summit. Following the bottom of the gully, the standard route barely hangs onto its class 2 rating. Hikers also can opt to parallel this gully about 30 feet to the right on class 3 terrain. This feature is what makes Lindsey the perfect transition mountain for those seeking to move beyond class 2 peaks. Most climbers find the solid rock of the class 3 route to be much more enjoyable and even easier than hiking the loose gravel of the gully floor.

This testing ground allows you to decide if you’re comfortable with high-altitude class 3 climbing without really having to commit to a class 3 peak. If you successfully climb this class 3 side road, you can move on to the rest of the class 3 peaks with some experience under your belt.

Class 3 descents are as much of a challenge as the ascents, and about as time-consuming. Most mountaineering accidents occur on the descent, so take your time. Also, class 3 is where most mountaineers begin wearing helmets. On this route, even if you intend to stick to the class 2 trail, I’d recommend a climbing helmet due to the high risk of rock fall in the gully. When it comes to rock fall danger, it’s not about the terrain you’re on but the terrain you’re near.

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Friesema is a Colorado native who has scaled each of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks. He has been a member of Teller County Search and Rescue since 2003. Read about his high-country adventures at hikingintherockies.com.

Colorado’s

finest

This is the 27th in a series on the peaks that rise to 14,000 feet or more.

Mountain Stats

Elevation rank: 42nd of 54

Location: Sangre de Cristo Range

Directions: Drive 85 miles south on Interstate 25 to exit 56. Turn right on Red Rock Road and follow for 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Colorado Highway 69 and go nearly 21 miles. Once you’ve driven through Gardner, turn left onto County Road 550 (road to Mosca Pass) and go 22 miles to trailhead.

Weekly word

Climbing helmet – A helmet specifically designed to protect your head from mountaineering dangers such as falling rocks. Make sure the helmet has a UIAA rating sticker.