Monday, September 14, 2015

Engineer Mountain, CO

Engineer Mountain (12,968 ft.) - September 13, 2015
Northeast Ridge (class 3)
4.5 miles round trip
2,400 ft. elevation gain

Engineer Mountain stands fairly isolated from other summits but quite close to Coal Bank Pass along scenic Highway 550 in the heart of the San Juan mountains of southwestern Colorado. The mountain is interesting both as a climber and as a geologist.

I spent the weekend camping along Lime Creek Road with a class of undergraduate geologists that I was teaching. We spent our time on the relatively mellow terrain south of Potato Hill. On our last day however, I got up at 4:45 am, snuck off towards Coal Bank Pass to the Pass Creek Trailhead. I started my early morning adventure at 5:15 am. I cruised up the mountain in the dark and reached the summit by 6:40 am. I spent 10 minutes on the summit waiting for the sun to crest the Needle Mountains to the east until I got too cold; the sun rose on my descent. Once off the rocky summit ridge, I ran the entire length of the trail back to the trailhead, which I reached at 7:30 am. I was back at camp in time for breakfast and the caravan back to Flagstaff.

2 hours 15 minutes round trip.

Sun still hiding behind the Needle Mountains
Looking up the Northeast Ridge of Engineer Mountain
Class 3 crux section
Some exposure on the north side of the ridge
On my way down, sun still ain't up. Rock glacier below
Engineer Mountain
Looking back at the sunlit mountain