This is the view I wake up to every day. I chose this photograph as it depicts 13,575′ Rosalie Peak and neighboring small rounded Bandit Peak to the left and square topped Mount Evans to the right. This photo, obtained off of the Summit Post website presents Rosalie and neighbors exactly the way they appear from our living room window. A few years ago I decided to add climbing Rosalie to my bucket list. There is something in my DNA that makes me want to get to the summit of certain mountains and this peak was on my radar.
Unfortunately a variety of circumstances have presented themselves which has led to me being unsuccessful in my several attempts to summit. That being said, I feel compelled to post a brief list of my past attempts and my reasons for failure:
Attempt #1 – September 2012 – Took the Rosalie Trail thinking it would take us to the peak. Wrong trail. Still a nice 10+ mike hike.
Attempt #2 – February of 2013 – Snowy solo hike to Pegmatite Points – 12,000’+ – 60-70 MPH winds and cold turned me back.
Attempt #3 – October 2013 – Bridges all washed out. Slipped on icy log and fell into very cold creek. Am I ever going to summit?
Attempt #4 – Early November 2013 – Hiked Tanglewood Trail to 11,444′. Turned back due to late start and not enough daylight left.
Well, there comes a time if you are as stubborn as I am when you say, enough is enough – today is the day. Yes, yesterday was the day I decided I would finally summit Rosalie Peak. The conditions were just perfect. The snow fields on the mountain’s south and east facing slopes were sparsely blanketed with snow, meaning that with some extra distance one could avoid these dangerous conditions. The weather was unseasonably warm, with temperatures forecast to be around 30 in the morning and mid 30’s at the summit in the afternoon. Today’s hike was with good friend, Jack Roberts.
Rosalie Peak is named after Rosalie Bierstadt, wife of 19th century nature painter Albert Bierstadt. My son Jonathan and I summited neighboring 14’er Mt. Bierstadt a few years ago, but that is another story for another day. The climb to Rosalie is difficulty rated at class 2, primarily due to its extended distance and elevation gain. We started at the Deer Creek Trailhead at an elevation of 9,050′ and began our climb to our destination at 13,575′. The one way distance to the summit was 5.5 miles.
The first few miles of the trail follows Deer Creek, which are highlighted in previous posts. It is a rocky hike with several gut busting climbs, all following and crossing fast flowing Deer Creek. This photograph was taken as we emerged from the heavily forested portion of the trail and were able to see some of the vistas.
As you can see, after the trail emerges from the forest it gets quite steep and heads toward the Pegmatite Points on the saddle. This is a neat part of the trail as you hike through dense areas of mountain mahogany.
Tanglewood Trail then takes you through an old growth stand of bristlecone pine. This was a really neat area. Some of these trees are 2,000 years old! At this elevation you can see how difficult it is/was for bristlecones to survive the harsh weather, winds and elevation.
Once on the saddle it was time to leave the trail and begin our assent toward the summit. As we started gaining elevation the 12,000’+ thin air required a rest or two along the way. Can you think of a better place to sit back and relax?
At about 13,000′ the mountainside got very steep, which required traversing and frequent “catch your breath and slow your heart rate” moments. The snowfields also became much more prevalent. They were not more than 6″ deep, but were extremely icy on the surface. Since we did not have crampons or ice axes, hiking around the snow added extra time and distance.
Finally, the view I have been waiting for! Looking directly toward our little piece of heaven in Conifer. You can also clearly see Lions Head and the rocks within Staunton State Park. I could actually identify the meadow along Elk Creek Road. That would be within a mile of our house, so that really made my day.
All tolled, the hike was just over 11 miles, 4,280′ elevation gain and a full day’s hiking on a very beautiful trail. Love Colorado!