Fwd: Snow Depth website & NM Ute Mtn - Rio Grande Nat Mon HP
- To: Prominence egroup, Dave Covill, Mark Nichols
Dave has a good TR of the north route up Ute Mountain.
This is now a National Monument HP, so may get a few
more folks interested in this peak.
My route in 2004 was from the SW corner, where
you could drive to 8160' and 2 miles horizontal
from the summit. However, this was a uncomfortable
and long drive for a sedan, so Dave's route might be
I just took a trip from Denver down to New Mexico. I can report the
following snow coverage as being reasonably accurate, perhaps someone
can get into one of the websites mentioned and cross-check what they say?
CO Denver Front Range: moderate snowpack, mostly white in the mtns,
about a normal year May 1st level. This is mostly due to recent snows
that only hit the Front Range. Depth is probably deceptively skinny.
CO Sawatch Range ( Elbert down to Shavano): less, patchy, actually dry
on part of the southern aspects, about a normal year May 20th level.
CO Northern Sangre de Cristos: Bushnell down to Blanca Pk: less,
patchy, actually dry on part of the southern aspects, about a normal
year May 20th level.
NM Southern Sangre de Cristos: Wheeler Pk down to Santa Fe Baldy: more,
they report a great snow year for the Taos area ski resorts, seems
fairly white on all aspects, well down into the trees.
I climbed Ute Mtn Sat 3/30/13, HP of the brand new Rio Grande Nat Mon,
about 2 miles S of the CO/NM border, N of Taos 30 miles. 10,093'. There
is a hwy sign that says "public access BLM land Ute Mtn". We followed
our nose, not signed again until you are close to the mtn 3.5 miles in
from a county gravel road on the N side. Absolutely no trails anywhere
on the N 1/2 of the peak, a gently rounded volcanic hump similar to the
higher San Antonio Mtn 30 miles due W. Minor snow on the upper 1/3 of
the peak. Tons of elk, scared up a half dozen small bands of them.
Loose volcanic cobbles everywhere, annoying cactus on the lower 1/3
would prevent a dog from walking comfortably. Found a summit cairn &
register, by Mark Nichols 2002, Andy M was next in shortly after. About
3-6 people a year enter into the register, likely tons of hunters walk
within a few hundred yards of it each year. Saw the usual cast of
suspects in it. I thought I might be the first person to visit after
the inception of the NM status, but some other fellow "Jeff" was there
on 3/27. His was the first visit since last fall.
From CO hwy 59 1.0 miles N of the NM line ( S of San Luis), go W on CR
"B" 6 miles, through hamlet of Garcia, to a T at RD "8 "(pavement ends
partway at 4.6). Go L (S) 1.0, then go R (W) on an un-marked good gravel
road with a white couch next to it. This road goes to the edge of the
Rio Grande River I think. Go 1.0 to a BLM sign. Turn L (S) into BLM
land, go 2.0 S, then 1.0 W to a water tank & solar array (seriously!).
From there, either park there (you are now due N of peak at mile 11.0)
or go 0.2 further to a fork, road deteriorates, both branches end in
another 0.2. Road is decent 2-track, did it in my Suzuki SX4, would
have been more intelligent to have had high clearance. Would suck if it
was muddy.... I stopped here, at about 7,580' . Solar array is visible.
Note that the Hybrid View shows a E-W road near there that clearly
does not exist when you switch to regular Aerial Photo view. Odd.....
Proceed up lower slopes, maybe stay on the less-wooded NNW mini-ridge,
rather than the N or NNE ridge. S side of the peak had far less trees,
but you can't easily get to it. Gets steeper at mid-point, then levels.
Easy bushwhacking the entire way, other than the angle. Sage & Juniper
give way to Ponderosas, then Firs and short needle pines up higher.
Absolutely no sign anywhere above open range down low of human
visitation, way cool. Summit plateau is long, gentle. Summit is at far
S end of plateau. Minor rock outcrop there. I did it in 2:01 up, 1:21
down, hustling madly to make it back to Ojo Caliente 80 miles away for
a 1PM spa date with my wife on our ( hey, honey, lets go have a nice
mellow spa weekend, no crazy highpointing this time.... ) weekend.
Gain of 10,093 - 7,580 = 2,517'; about 2.5 - 3 miles O/W.
I believe either Bob P, John V, or one of the other folks chasing Nat
Mon HPs gets credit for a First Ascent on this one. It is a NM Prom
Dave ( didn't even bring a map, was just gonna scout the approach ) Covill