Winter Climb of North Star Mountain
Colorado › Hoosier Pass, Colorado
Added by Brian Lewis
North Star is a relatively short and safe introduction to winter snow climbing. There is minimal elevation gain on the approach and some fun class 3 ridge scrambling brings you to a crowd-free summit with awesome views of the high peaks of the Tenmile Range.
From the west parking lot at the top of Hoosier Pass, take the 4x4 road as it climbs through a forest west of the pass. Before long, the trees thin and you'll stay on the road through treeline and reach a gate at just over 12,000 feet.
Stay right at the gate and continue on this old mining road as it passes some mine ruins and provides outstanding views of Mt. Lincoln, Montgomery Reservoir and the headwaters of the South Platte River. The road switchbacks a few times and can be confusing to follow, but keep in mind your target is the southeast shoulder of the mountain and the narrow summit ridge beyond.
Once on the ridge, the way is fairly obvious and the hiking turns to scrambling over medium to large boulders. Just before the ridge, it's probably a good idea to exchange snowshoes for microspikes and stash your poles since snowshoes will be cumbersome on the rocks and you'll want your hands free for scrambling.
The ridge is frequented by mountain goats and has amazing views of Lincoln and Democrat to the south and the nearby summit of Quandary to the north. Quandary is a very popular winter 14er and you'll likely see people on top, but you'll be almost guaranteed solitude on this seldom-visited peak. Continue on the ridge, trying to find the most obvious path near the crest and you'll avoid most of the serious exposure or avalanche danger along the route.
There will be a final rocky and steep push towards the summit, but once on top, try to find some shelter from the wind and enjoy the views of the surrounding snowcapped wonderland. Carefully retrace your steps back down the ridge and back to Hoosier Pass.
- Winter boots and warm socks
- Snowshoes and poles
- Microspikes are helpful on boulders above treeline when snow is wind-scoured and snowshoes are cumbersome
- Hat, gloves and mittens
- Outer shell jacket
- Gaiters and shell pants
- Goggles and face mask/buff/balaclava
- Snacks and water
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Good safe winter hike
Safe meaning it is almost always avy safe if you stick to the ridge (similar to its more popular and taller neighbor, Quandary) but the winds can be brutal. Ive known really big climbers get blown off their feet...Still a very winter option!
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