Mountaineering – Fletcher Mountain Attempt

Fletcher Reflected in Lakes at 12,550 ft
Fletcher Mountain, Taken from a lake at 12,550 ft

Quandary and Fletcher Topo Map
The Topo of Quandary and Fletcher

I would like to climb the Inwood Arete on Quandary Peak. However, the direct start, a large crack, might be full of ice or still wet from the spring thaw! By hiking up McCullough Gulch, we could inspect the route and use the information to nail the timing of the climb. In the end, I decide it’s probably safest to do the climb in August.

The McCullough Gulch Trail Head
The McCullough Gulch Trailhead

On Friday, I met with Erin and we drove her truck, Bertha, to the trail head at McCullough Gulch. It was an easy drive and the gravel road was fairly well maintained. Any car could make it to the trail head, at this time of year. I was still happy we had Bertha though, because we planned to sleep in the camper vs. setting up in a tent.

We woke up at 4:45am. An hour later, we were hiking. Erin wasn’t feeling very well. The fires have made her throat sore, but on top of that, she generally just feels icky. I make a mental note to check up on her from time to time as we hike. Being up at altitude and exerting oneself can sometimes exacerbate a health condition.

Start of Hike is Down a Gravel Road
Here’s the start of our hike, taken at 5:50am.

The first bit of the hike is down a gravel road. It’s not all that fun walking down a gravel road, but the scenery is beautiful. We pass a creek and an old cabin, before our trail branches off from the road:
Waterfall Crossing
Pretty Creek

Finally, A Trail...Good Thing the Sign Is There!
Trail Branching and Sign!

Erin Plodding Along - Giving it Her All
Here’s Erin Plodding Along. She was sucking on cough drops the whole time. I really admire her for sticking to the plan and giving it her all. Most people would have totally backed out, feeling ill. I was happy she decided to keep going as the hike was really beautiful. We both agree that it would be nice to come back here, even just to camp at one of the lakes.

About 1 Mile From McCullough Gulch Trail Head
Looking back to the trailhead about 1 mile, 1 hour at our slow pace, from the trail head. Beautiful!!!

Inwood Arete of Quandary Peak
Distant View of Inwood Arete on Quandary. Route starts on the left, goes up past the towers up high, and then finishes just below the summit.

First Glimpse of Fletcher Peak
First Glimpse of Fletcher Peak

Erin Walking on Water
Hiking Around the North Side of the Lake

Erin Above Sparkling Alpine Lake
Erin Above the Long, Unnamed Lake, at about 12,000 ft.

Fletcher Peak and Grassy Meadows
Fletcher Peak from grassy meadows. We had been hiking with our snowshoes and we totally didn’t need them. Oh well!

Erin in Meadow Below Fletcher Peak
Grassy Meadows Below Fletcher. Beautiful! At our snail pace, it took us 3.5 hours to get here.

Lone Mountaineer Beneath Fletcher
Erin below Fletcher Mountain. I really love this photo of Erin.

Whatever Happened to Sticks and Stones...?
Don’t call Erin a Slowpoke!

That last picture was not the result of name calling, that’s just a joke! What really happened is that I wanted an action shot. Jumping was not working out. Nor standing on our heads. We couldn’t time the action according to the 10 seconds on the camera. So, I figured if she threw the pack at me, then we’d have enough time to capture the backpack mid air. It worked!

It was around 9am and we discussed going for the summit of Fletcher. Erin was not feeling any better and in fact was feeling a bit worse so our conclusion was that we better not continue ascending. After the tomfoolery at the lake, we turned around and headed down. Time to head back to the long, unnamed lake and check out the Inwood Arete Climb!

Yellow and Purple Wildflowers in McCullough Gulch
Alpine Flowers are so pretty!

Erin and I crossed the outlet of the long, unnamed lake and scoped out the start of the Inwood Arete. It was easy to cross the stream, and it will be even easier later in the summer.

Erin Ready For Lunch or a Nap at the Lake
Here she is, after we ditched our packs. The walk to the base of the climb was pretty steep, but along a series of grassy benches.

Blocky Formation Start of Inwood Arete?
The direct start of Inwood Arete is one of the wider cracks on this blocky formation, on the right side. It’s 5.6 or 5.7 depending upon who you talk with. At the end of June, the base of the climb had 15 feet of snow on it, so I couldn’t really get a closer a look at the crack.

Erin Soaking in the Sun
Looking back down from where I took the photo above. It was some easy 3rd class scrambling to get to that spot.

After scoping out the climb, we hiked back to the truck. I thought it would be really nice if we could go back to Frisco and get some tea for Erin’s throat. Luck would have it, we found a tea room right on the main drag! We lounged in their comfy plush chairs for half an hour sipping soothing beverages. I got a hot chocolate and it was delicious.

What a beautiful hike and nice day out with Erin. I was sad we didn’t get the peak, but happy that we got to share another adventure in the mountains. We explored a new area and even sipped some tea!

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