Arkansas, Mount (Mosquito Range Traverse North)

elevation: 4,205 m.  height gain: 170 m. (from Mount Tweto)
area: Fremont Pass,Colorado,USA
map USGS 1:24,000 Climax, CO

mount arkansas

Heading to Mount Arkansas, peak #5 and highest point of this traverse.
Scramble: RT 8.75 (includes Kuss and Mosquito Peaks, Treasurevault Mountain and Mount Tweto); 1.5 up from Mount Tweto. Mount Arkansas' traverse was the apex of this outing. Short of being a centennial 13er, it is the highest point of this traverse. With snow, the route is aesthetically pleasing and offers a bit of a challenge. Although I was able to execute the climb to the summit ridge without crampons or an axe, I would recommend them. I simply scrambled on rock wherever I could to avoid the softening snow on the open slopes, this worked well and it was an obvious way to mitigate potential hazard. Further along the climb to the summit ridge, I had to walk on the snow crest which was entirely manageable. If I had to use just two words for this part, I would say it was "fun" and "refreshing". Once on the summit ridge, the hike to the top is straightforward but one must remain mindful of the impressive cornices on the lee side. The huge cornices hanging over the mountain's sheer east side made it look like a tall Alaskan peak. I was absolutely delighted that I was able to continue to the summit, it made my trip! I sat down for a while to soak in the view and grab a bite. From here, I could appreciate the scale of the operational Climax Mine. I was surrounded by all the Sawatch giants and the Mosquito Range's 14ers, including Tenmile's Quandary Peak and countless stunning 13ers. It was also neat looking south over the terrain I had travelled which was almost half the length of the Mosquito Range. I hadn't taken many breaks along the way, I enjoyed the outstanding scenery and relished the accomplishment. As great as it was to just relax on my high perch, I started to think about Tim that hadn't heard from me at all today; shit, is there ever any nirvana? Anyway, I managed a decent stay before peeling myself off the summit. I aimed for the west face pretty much directly from the top. There was a couple of wind-scoured ribs but I chose to skirt one of those with a mad glissade. The snow was still very firm, almost too firm with sastrugi that kinda hurt my rear end but I wasn't complaining, my descent was swift and amusing despite that. The lower part of the mountain to the highway was very easy to navigate. The snow still held my weight and I didn't need to use my snowshoes. A small crux worth mentioning is the creek alongside the highway. I had to find a place to cross it, I can see how this could be an unforeseen challenge on some spring days. The final hurdle was to get a lift back to Leadville; thankfully, a nice local man had mercy on my soul and drove me all the way back to my truck. This was an awesome day in the Colorado Mountains, as always.

impressive basin below

Impressive basin to the north beyond these neat outcrops.

easy scrambling

The south ridge offers easy scrambling.

snowy ridge crest

The snowy ridge crest is manageable.

looking back

Looking back at Mount Tweto.

beautifully corniced

The summit ridge is beautifully corniced.

vast basin

More of the vast basin flanked by Mount Democrat's west face.

looking south

Looking south towards the other Mosquito Range peaks I have visited.

short hike to the top

A couple of minor dips interrupt the short hike to the top.

aesthetically pleasing

The ridge is aesthetically pleasing, this summit is stunning with snow.

arkansas looks lofty

From here, Mount Arkansas looks like a lofty Alaskan summit.

apex of the traverse

The apex of the traverse, peak #5!

arkansas' north ridge

Mount Arkansas' north ridge is the ascent route from Fremont Pass.

view north

View north.

sawatch giants

Sawatch giants beyond Prospect Mountain, I can always pick out LaPlata Peak and Mount Elbert.

mount of the holy cross

Another Sawatch gem is Mount of the Holy Cross.

challenging ridge to buckskin

The challenging connecting ridge to Mount Buckskin and Loveland Mountain.

climax mine

The active Climax Mine.

laplata peak and mount elbert

LaPlata Peak (left), one of my favorite Sawatch peaks and Mount Elbert on the right.

a closer look at holy cross

A closer look at Mount of the Holy Cross.

direct descent

The descent is direct and straightforward.

looking back

A glimpse back at the descent straight from the top.

open west ridge

Following the open west ridge all the way down to the road.

snow is still firm

The snow on the ridge is still firm enough to support my weight.

nearing the road

Nearing the road.

mount arkansas' west aspect

Mount Arkansas' west aspect from highway CO-91.
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