Lackawanna GR:692282

elevation: 4,213 m. height gain: 1,050 m.
area: Independence Pass, Colorado, USA
map USGS 1:24,000 Independence Pass, CO
         39106A5
2017-May-09


Ref: 14ers.com
ascent gully


The ascent gully from the Independence Pass road, I parked at GR:679262.
Scramble: RT 5.0; 3.25 up. While hiking with Tim, we met a fellow that told us he had just climbed Lackawanna, he described good conditions and continuous snow in the gully. Tim had already suggested I go climb that mountain's snow gully, now it seemed I had an objective lined up. I drove late in the afternoon and located the south-west gully's runout zone. The following morning, I left before dawn. I hiked to the gully's choke point in the dark. I was glad to have scoped out the short approach the previous day as I managed to avoid most of the alder shrubs in the runout zone by ascending climber's left. Once on snow in the gully, I relished every step onward. As dawn came about, valley cloud formed and I continued my ascent in the eerie fog bank. Through the years I have grown fond of multi-layered clouds and valley fog, it often frames and presents the mountains in a stunning way; I find that the mood and texture of the scenery is unsurpassed. After a little while, I broke out of the cloud and carried on into the upper bowl. Just short of being a 13er, Star Mountain across the valley was the star during the ascent until I started seeing LaPlata Peak. From Lackawanna, the view of LaPlata and the Ellingwood Ridge is absolutely phenomenal, it's front row seat! As I neared the summit ridge, the grade steepened and the snow got much firmer. I recollect thinking I was a bit careless to not have my crampons and my axe on hand... For a short distance, enjoyment turned into real focus to avoid a mishap; that was my 10 minutes of cheap thrills! Once on the ridge, the summit is very near and incredible scenery unfolds. I think the valley fog really made this trip special. All the beautiful mountains just appeared to float in a vast sea surrounding me, it was priceless. I stayed at the top for quite some time before backtracking, there was no wind and I knew that the descent would be fast like lightning. I glissaded the whole way down, feeling carefree, giggling like a kid... I really liked this outing, it was straightforward, direct and fun from start to finish. The views are stupendous!
better look

Climber's left of the runout zone grants good access avoiding most alder shrubs.

gully's choke point

Reaching the gully's choke point in the dark.

easily negotiable

The choke point is easily negotiable.

continuous snow climb

The snow was firm and the gully offered a continuous snow climb.

looking down

Looking down as I ascend through the fog bank.

breaking out of the fog


Breaking out of the fog.


mountains peeking through fog


Star Mountain starts peeking through the valley cloud.


mountains are revealed


The mountains are revealed the higher I go.


upper bowl


The upper bowl.


ridge crest ahead


The ridge crest is just ahead.


laplata comes into view


LaPlata comes into view.


endless sea of cloud


Endless sea of cloud to the east.


best view of laplata


Lackawanna offers the best view of LaPlata Peak.


looking over the summit ridge


Looking over the south-west ridge, Star Mountain (in the foreground) has accompanied me throughout the ascent.


at the top


At the top.


north-eastern view


Casco Peak (left center) and Mount Elbert on the right to the north-east.


island in the sea


The southern end of Mount Elbert like an island in the sea.


laplata and ellingwood


A closer look at LaPlata and the Ellingwood Ridge; I hold that mountain dear to my heart.


south-eastern view


South-eastern view with some 13ers and 14ers in orange.


selfie


Selfie!


spectacular descent


Spectacular descent into the abyss.


fabulous glissade


Who doesn't like a fun speedy descent like that!


valley cloud


Valley cloud is so beautiful.


last glimpse


One last glimpse.


re-entering the fog bank


Re-entering the fog bank.


back at the choke point


Already back at the choke point, the road is visible below.
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