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Mount Spalding: 0 to 13k in 7 hours

June 10, 2016


Mount Spalding (13,842'): 3 miles, ~950 feet elevation gain

In addition to the hundred highest ranked summits in Colorado, there are 11 mountains that are just as tall in elevation and without enough height above their lowest connecting saddle to qualify them as ranked mountains--but that have enough significance that they are officially named by the USGS. In my quest to climb Colorado's hundred highest, I recently realized that I had already climbed 10 out of these 11 named-but-unranked peaks. Some of them, such as Conundrum and Frasco, had been climbs that I had really enjoyed. Ironically the one I had not summitted yet is the most accessible of all, Mount Spalding. So, might as well climb it! And since it isn't ranked anyway, I'll go ahead and throw out the 3,000-foot rule for myself for this one exception and use this mountain as a great way to acclimate from sea level.

Note: Click on picture to see high resolution photograph in separate window:

With my flight and quick drive from D.C. to the parking area before Summit Lake along Mount Evans Road, I had traveled from 0 to 13k in elevation in exactly 7 hours! Stepping out of my rental vehicle, I could definitely feel the altitude.

The hike up to Spalding was more interesting than I expected. First of all, there were mountain goats everywhere, and they were nice enough to keep posing for pictures. Then there was plenty of snow; in fact the trail wasn't always obvious and I spent much of my time just working my way up the snow slopes for some practice. Plus the summit is a neat, round boulder, with great views 360-degrees.

Surprisingly I had the whole upper mountain to myself on this Friday afternoon; there were plenty of hikers down low around the frozen Summit Lake, but none of them seemed interested in going any higher.