Monte Cristo Peak - North Col, June 2004 (by Paul Klenke)
They say that tanning beds are bad for you. But what if that tanning bed is 7,000 ft up? What if that bed is at the Monte Cristo Tanning Salon? To answer these questions, Sergio and I headed up to Monte Cristo Peak to find out. I had to be back in Seattle around 7:00PM, so we were limited in our route selection. Sergio wanted to come in via Curry Gap on the east. Having been that way on a failed attempt at the Northeast Ridge of Kyes, I knew it was not doable within our time constraints. Instead, the standard approach from the mining ghost town of Monte Cristo would have to be the route.
We started out at Barlow Pass (2,300 ft) at 8:00AM on bikes. It takes less than an hour to ride the four miles to the old town (2,700 ft). Then the exasperating trail to Glacier Basin was next. I hate that rocky trail past the waterfalls with a passion-almost as much passion as the water itself tumbling over the falls. It kind of seems odd that the miners of yore didn't build a better one in the late 1800's. I've joked that I probably would have climbed every peak in the Glacier Basin cirque by now if it weren't for that blasted trail! In probably an hour from the town we made the basin (4,500 ft) and saw our route to the North Col high up on Monte Cristo's North Ridge. It initially looked way steep but the closer we got the lower the angle it presented to our eyes. Sergio chose to put on his lightweight Stubai crampons early and boot it up the snowfield. I chose the melted out minor spur ridge. For me the solid spur ridge went real quick and I privately wondered why Sergio chose the slog route. (more...)
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