Ascent of Mt Humboldt,
by Steve Bremner and Sam the Wolfdog,
on May 15th, 1999
Sangre de Christo Range,
Camp site on road to South Colony Lakes After leaving work Friday afternoon I quickly gathered gear and dog for the two-hour drive to the Sangre de Christo Range. It's a beautiful drive SW of my home in Colorado Springs. South of Canon City Hiway 96 goes over a lesser mountain range before dropping graciously into the historic towns of Westcliffe and Silvercliffe at the foot of the towering Sangre de Christos.

The sun was just setting as I pulled into Westcliffe and the prospect of a bivy in a cheap hotel was tempting. One hotel was full and the other wanted $50 so I continued on towards the access road.

Crestones in notch, Humboldt just to their right The road leading to the trailhead for the South Colony Lakes is a rough 4-wheel drive track in Summer--in mid-May it was impassable beyond the National Forest boundary. I stopped well before that, set up my tent, cooked up some spaghetti, and hit the sack early.
Low-slung rocky summits poking up in notch are Crestone Needle (left) and Crestone Peak.
Large pyramid directly to their right is Humboldt.
Colony Lakes under snow I had grandiose ambitions to climb Kit Carson and Humboldt that weekend. I had no idea how much snow was up there when I decided to leave my snowshoes in the car--postholing all the way to Kit Carson was not a pleasant prospect and I settled for the easy one--Humboldt.

The road is 5.5 miles, followed by 2.25 miles to the lower South Colony Lake. I set up a camp site close to the trailhead near the creek. It was sunny when I set out for the summit around 1100 A.M. I aimed for the lakes, keeping my eye on the saddle to the left of Humboldt.

Looking up towards the summit of HumboldtThere was so much snow, that I rarely saw the trail. The mountain was obvious enough though, and after hiking up the basin just beyond the lower lake I started up the wind-scoured side of Humboldt. The snow was not a problem once on the mountain itself--the wind took care of that.
Looking towards Kit Carson from Humboldt saddle
The view from the saddle of Humboldt looking west. Just over the rocky ridge in the foreground is the "Bear's Playground"--a high flat area at 13,000 feet. The high peak beyond that is "Obstruction Peak", elevation 13,799 and one of Colorado's bicentennial top 200 peaks. The rocky summit just barely visible to the right of that is "Kat Carson" peak--part of the Kit Carson Mountain massive.

The route from here is either along the ridge all the way, or up from South Colony Lakes to the Playground, then skirting Obstruction Peak to the left, following obvious cairns. Then up and over Kat Carson Peak, dropping 500 feet before ascending a gulley to Kit Carson's summit.

Crestones from Humboldt Humboldt isn't a particularly hard climb--just a long slog up a pile of gravel. The view of the Crestones from the summit is well worth the effort, though!

On the way out I met a guy who had just soloed the Needle, which started the seed for a July trip in which both I and Sam the Wolfdog would successfully make the climb.

Sam the Wolfdog on top of HumboldtSam the Wolfdog on top of Humboldt. Visible in the distance to the right is a snow covered Pikes Peak.

Climbing fourteeners in winter/spring is a lot of work--from the longer approach to the extra effort to move through snow. After this summit I was content to head for home, leaving Kit Carson for another day.

(I climbed it on the 18th of July, 1999. Sam just missed the actual summit, waiting on "Kat Carson" with a friend.)


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