Peak(s):  Bald Mtn A  -  13,684 feet
Boreas Mtn  -  13,082 feet
Date Posted:  08/09/2020
Date Climbed:   07/29/2020
Author:  petal53run
 A Tail Wind Would be Nice   

A Tail Wind Would be Nice

Boreas, the Greek God of the north wind, showed his strength while I was climbing Bald Mountain A. Original plans were to climb Bald first and Boreas second but the wind was something awful. The sky was blue and breezy up to the second wind shelter. Then the wind cranked up. Since I was sooo close I reevaluated after every step. The chunks of rocks felt like a Class 3 scrabble and I summited Bald(13684ft) by huddling behind the east side of the summit rocks(pic1). I kissed the cairn, waved to Guyot across the street and hurried down (safely) to get warmer as I got closer to the car. In sum, it was a good climb.

That morning, Boreas Pass road was doable driving(pic2), the bridges (pic3-4) framed by astors, bluebells & sunflowers were pretty(pic5-6), the teacup size talus was awful, the cairns were encouraging(pic7), the summit was cold & windy, and most of my pics were blurry. During the descent, the Black Powder Pass Trail(pic8 of start) was easy to make a beeline to as it was a solid line of people. On the trail I stopped for several interesting conversations. One couple was from Woodland as he had climbed nearly all the 14ers. Several hikers were visiting Colorado to purposely climb some 13ers & a 14er. After snacking and warming up in the car I picked a line to Boreas. But trying to stand up in the wind at 11500ft and being only ¾ mile from the car, I called it quits. It’s better to be a smart climber and stop rather than risk a worse situation. I took pics of the storyboards to read at home.

During the meanwhile, I read the Pike National Forest Service historical boards. I knew Boreas Pass was an old railway, but curiosity lead me to research the full story. Formerly known as Breckenridge Pass in 1860, gold prospectors crossed over the high mountain plateau to look in the valley of the blue around Breckenridge. In 1866 the trail was widened to accommodate stage coaches. High altitude railroading gained popularity the late 1800s to get the goods from the booming mines, but passengers were willing to pay money for hair raising rides to the other side. It was former Governor John Evans & others who incorporated the Denver South Park & Pacific RR(DSP&P) that chugged 3 narrow gauge lines from Como (285 side). Headquartered there in South Park, the little railroad that could was an engineering marvel as it traversed danger: floods, rockslides, derailment, death, blizzards and corporate competition. Sidney Dillon of the Union Pacific RR and foreman renamed the pass, Boreas, for the relentless north wind during the challenging and corner cutting construction (1879-1884) process.

Two days later the weather looked perfect so I was back at the TH(11493ft) at 6am(pic9). I soaked in the spectacular sunrise all by myself(pic10). Before heading up to the Boreas Mountain Peak, I wandered around the ghost town of Boreas(pic11). Underneath the frosting of the sunrise was the story of human courage and hardship from those silent heros who kept the 4% grade RR line clear, summer and winter. Between the buildings I found the beginning cairn(pic12-13).

Pretty much you draw a visual line to Boreas. Stay right of the stump field(pic14), walk a faint path marked by short piles of rocks while going up the grassy slope to cross a little streambed(pic15). I followed mountain goat tracks(pic16) through the willows up to treeline to a grassy boulder field(pic17) looking down). The choices are this or dinner plate sized talus fields to balance upon. Out of the tundra area there is a faint trail through the talus which required concentration and spiky shiny thistles bloomed(pic18). The trail becomes obvious at the base of Boreas and cairns are visible to the top(pic19). Once on the ridge, in slight breezy conditions, the views were breathtaking for 360degrees. It’s a flat long hike (pic20) that goes to a windshelter (pic21). The true summit (13085ft) is 50ish feet to the south. The view of the Tenmile & Mosquito ranges is worth the walk.

In sum, Boreas was a Class 1-2 hike with the goal and your route of choice in sight. Although there was evidence of a trail in places, bushwhacking was primarily the method of choice. The steepness was gradual except for the middle part which was a bit sharper. Round trip was 2 1/2ish hours in that I spent more time sitting in traffic than hiking. Keep in mind that Boreas Pass is a busy roadway (not at 6am).

The real conclusion is here. If the wind had been cooperative, I would have climbed both peaks in one day. I suggest while there to appreciate the historical significance both on the pass and along the reconstructed route roadway, made possible by the WW2 army corps of engineers. As I let the wind help me comb my hair, I wondered if the residents hiked to Boreas Mountain to look out over the world. It’s the railroads that gave us these mountainous drives; that is, picturesque climbs.

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These stumps were from the trees used to build the bustling Boreas Station town. Structures included a telegraph office, bunkhouses, storage building
and passenger & resident shelters. Between 1896 and 1906, Boreas had the highest elevation in the country for a post office. Lumber from Denver was railed
in after the hillside was depleted to build the numerous snowsheds that lined the pass. Commonly 1000feet long, with doors on each end to keep out the
drifting snow, depots were included in these sheds so passengers could be more comfortable while waiting out blizzards. Bald Mountain is in background.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Comments or Questions
One of my favs...
08/10/2020 08:16
I love that area. Thanks for putting this one up!

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