A fun, full day hike and scramble
Andy, CP and Harlan put on their crampons at the Grandview Trailhead. This is a very heavy snow year; usually the trails are dry by now. The Grandview Trail was particularly bad because it lies almost entirely on north facing slopes.
Horseshoe Mesa as seen from near the trailhead. Its highpoint is about 2000 feet below the rim of the canyon.
UN 6,633 and distant Horseshoe Mesa as seen from the Grandview Trail.
The Grandview trail was plastered with snow. There was a track through the snow but the runout was very serious and the trail was very narrow in places; I was glad to have my crampons and even my ice axe in a few spots. Because of the conditions CP, DB and Harlan decided to go investigate UN 6,633 (for which we had no beta) while Andy and I continued down to Horseshoe Mesa.
Andy on Horseshoe Mesa as we approach the summit formation. We've descended more than 2000 feet so we can scramble about 350 feet to the summit of Horseshoe Mesa; not your conventional hike.
Andy and I scouted around the base of the cliff bands near the top of Horseshoe Mesa looking for a promising weakness. Here Andy is inspecting one possibility on the west side. It looked OK but we decided to keep searching for something better before trying it.
UN 6,633 as seen from Horseshoe Mesa. CP, DB and Harlan are somewhere up there.
Andy climbing the initial 4th class part of the crux just below the summit plateau on the south side. I was comfortable scrambling up this part.
Andy finishing up the crux. I asked for a handline here and estimated the difficulty to be 5.2ish. There was a bit of exposure near the top.
View SE from the summit of Horseshoe Mesa. Coronado Butte is on the left and Sinking Ship is on the upper right.
View north from the summit of Horseshoe Mesa, looking down the eastern leg of the horseshoe. Wotans Throne (left) and Vishnu Temple (right) are the two highest peaks.
After bagging Horseshoe Mesa Andy and I climbed more than half of the way back to the rim on the Grandview Trail before catching the south ridge of UN 6,633. We looked in the pre-determined spot for the highly anticiapted news from the A Team: two cairns if the peak goes, one cairn if it doesn't, and zero cairns if they're still working on it. Zero cairns it is; down we go to investigate. Its possible to follow on or close to the ridge crest until a big notch puts a stop to it near the saddle.
As Andy and I searched and pondered a way to overcome the notch we caught sight of CP, DB and Harlan below the ridge on the east side of the peak. We waited patiently for their arrivial. hoping for good new. From below CP told us to downclimb the "3rd class chimney". I looked at the obvious chomney on the east side of the ridge and thought he was crazy; it was steep and formidable. I asked Andy for a belay but once I made the first few moves I realized how reasonable the downclimb. Its 4th class by Colorado standards; the holds are easy to find but its very steep.
After downclimbing the crux chimney and finding our way down some dirty ledges we set out on a long, rolling traverse along the base of the cliffs. By doing this we were able to reach the east side of the peak where the cliffs are broken up.
Andy continues the long traverse on the east side of UN 6,633. Notice the cliff band is becoming less formidable.
View northeast from the summit of UN 6,633. Horseshoe Mesa and Vishnu Temple dominate the scene.
After reaching the summit we had to turn around and reverse the long, tedious traverse to get back to the west side.