April 7, 2013 - Baldwin Gulch - attempt
Spring had sprung, well sort of, at least in Cheyenne it had tried . . . so the draw to the more wintery mountains, after an 8 week climbing drought, overwhelmed a less than favorable weather forecast. The forecast called for wind and snow showers, winds of 20 to 25 in the morning, 30 to 35 in the afternoon and gusts to 50. Not the best forecast but we just had to get out. G had not been out since November and Bob while Bob and I had last climbed fully two months before.
We overnighted at the Super 8 in Buena Vista and lollygagged long enough the next morning to do the motel breakfast before making our way to the foot of the 4WD road up Baldwin Gulch. I had no expectation that we would be able to drive any further so I was not disappointed as we parked in the wide spot across from and down the road just a bit from the cutoff. There was a touch of wind and a chill to go along with it, but the sun was up and the road had a ready boot pack leading upward. We gathered the last of the gear, cinched the snowshoes to the packs and headed up what we knew would be a couple miles of road march to the Baldwin Gulch junction. The snow was just a few inches deep at the stat and we made slow but steady time, working our way up the long and steep traverse before the road cuts into Baldwin Gulch proper.
Once in the upper reach of the gulch we made better time on the now more flat terrain. The hard packed track continued and the surrounding snow was still frozen from the night before, hence not even a hint of a posthole in our future. We made the junction in less than two hours and after a brief snack made the decision we would make a run for Mt. White in lieu of Mt. Mamma, our planned summit for the day. The wind that was forecast had now risen to the predicted speeds and we figured the odds of a summit were decreasing in proportion to the wind speed. Still, we set off on the standard Mt. Antero route, pushing up through he trees on a much less compact trail. The snowshoes soon came off the packs as the postholing game had started in earnest.
We pushed on through gusting snow beneath now clouded over skies and arrived at the start of the switchbacks leading up to the shoulder of Antero and the windy flats we would have to cross before taking on Mt. White proper. The wind gusted again and the snow blew down our necks . . . the allure of Mt. Princeton Hot Springs rose exponentially, so much so that we were swept from our goal and headed for the truck. I'd been climbing for 15 years and I'd learned when to call a climb on conditions and the "call it a day" conditions are not always that bad. In this case, we could have gone on but we could also immerse ourselves in the hot waters below and . . . well, it was not a tough decision.