I had not yet slept through the night on top of a Colorado 14er, so the time had come! I made some hasty plans and found my climbing friend Jason was also interested. We set out Friday after work and drove to Leadville where we sorted out that the only 14er nearby that either of us hadn’t been on top of was Mt. Princeton. It looked perfect for what was on the agenda, a somewhat accessible 4wd road, a night hike to the summit, and a summit with a few flat spots to bivvy.
Mt. Princeton was the last collegiate peak I hadn’t yet bagged and I had been all around it without ever getting to the top so I was excited. The road gets sketchy toward the end, I’m glad we had a decent 4wd with high clearance AND nobody was driving down while we were headed up. There are a few longer stretches toward the end where there is nasty exposure and only width for 1 vehicle. If your thinking of going up and wondering where the most convenient parking is, look carefully for a stone staircase you will see on your right going up and over the shoulder of Tigger Peak, there are a few spots right there but otherwise you have to go on to the end where you will end up on the trail that leads first up and over Tigger Peak.
So we took the trail up and over Tigger Peak.
The trail up Tigger starts above treelike and has some great views in itself. From the top of Tigger we could only see the trail going back and down on the other side, we could not even see Princeton’s summit though we knew it wasn’t far at all for there was no moon and it was slightly overcast. All the time we hiked down the shoulder between Tigger and Princeton there was the wearisome thought that all that vertical had to be made up, and then some. Each false summit only resetting the resolve to conquer the next brought us to the top though separately by a few minutes, I did not know it but my friend Jay was suffering from some bad food. Needless to say we were happy to get set up on the summit and settle in for the night.
The one thing you really don’t want when camping on a summit is thunderstorms, and as the forecast had suggested, we were lucky enough not to see any come our way. We both stirred at the first rays and emerged from our shelters to take in the awesome sight of the landscape, dropping away on all sides, greeting the warming light of the the morning. Below some early risers were seen on the trail making their way up. From the summit you can see the trail line all the way to where it drops over Tiggers shoulder back to the road. It was also kinda fun to see the first batch of early risers make the summit and seem disappointed that “someone else got there first”, which quickly passed when the realization was made that we spent the night.
We crushed the trail going back, probably in 1/3 the time it took to go up, back in Boulder by 4pm it was a sweet overnight trip. There are so many ways to enjoy these mountains, and the more ways I find to play on them, the more my appreciation of them grows.