West Pueblo Ridge (May 13th, 2011)

West Pueblo Ridge

West Pueblo Ridge is located directly west of Pueblo Mountain and the summit is the high point along the ridge.  Climbing up to the highpoint on the ridge was the highlight of my trip into the Pueblo Mountains.  After summitting Pueblo Mountain I hiked down the west side of the peak down to Ten Cent Meadow and spent a little time searching for a campsite for the evening.  I settled for a spot next to a large boulder  which would partially block the steady southerly wind that was blowing for the better part of the day.  It was about 1pm when I finally finished setting up the tent and unloading the pack.  My one person tent is quite small and I’ve noticed that I have to pay closer attention to how I set up my gear inside, but the reduced weight from my two man tent is well worth it.

Camp at Ten Cent Meadow

This year I’m paying closer attention to what I’m eating on each trip so I had planned on replacing the amount of calories I lost for the day.  After a quick calculation I realized that I would need to consume close to 7000 calories for the day.  After looking at what I had in the pack to eat for the trip I realized that I would have to eat almost everything in the pack to consume 7000 calories so I guess I’ll need to plan a little better for the next trip.  I cooked up ramen noodles and added mashed potatoes to the pot and laid down and had lunch in the tent.  After my early morning start I was ready for a little sleep so I cleaned up the pot and fell asleep in the afternoon sun for a few hours.

The Steens in the distance.

I checked out the “meadow” (It was more like a semi flat area covered in sagebrush and mountain mahogany) and filled up a couple bottles with filtered water all the while enjoying the amazing view of the Steens Mountains to the north.  Feeling pretty good from the shut eye and food I actually started tossing around the idea of making a push for the summit of West Pueblo that evening.  After returning to the tent I started having a twinge of a cramp in my left calf and with that all thoughts of making an early push to the summit was gone.  The sun dropped below the west ridge line and the temperatures began to cool so I decided it was ready to cook up a big dinner of, yes again, noodles and mashed potatoes with a cliff bar for dessert.  It was around seven when I finally slid down into my bag for the evening and was asleep within a matter of minutes.

The ridge approach.

I awoke to my alarm at 4am and struggled to get up for about 10 minutes, but I started thinking about the push to the summit and hike out so my enthusiasm kicked in.  Breakfast consisted of half a bottle of cold green tea and a cliff bar and while I was eating the amazing (not really) breakfast I packed up my backpack, I was ready to go by 4:45am.  The route was straightforward, hike directly west up to the top of the ridge then north along the ridgeline to the high point.  There were multiple rock bands up the ridge so I concentrated on hiking from one band to the next and before long I was looking up to the last band and top of the ridge.  The summit along the ridge is distinguishable as it’s a rock block that stands above the ridgeline approx. 75′.  The ramp which provides the access route to the top of the summit block was filled with snow with the center of the ramp approaching near vertical.  I actually enjoyed climbing up the vertical snow pitch then up the remaining slope to the summit.

West Pueblo Summit

The summit views were amazing in the early morning light.  I sat down, signed the log which I found in a tin can ( I put the register sheet in a ziplock back that I had in my pack then back in the tin can), then took photos and video.  Knowing I had the descent and hike back to the car I didn’t spend much time on the summit.  I retraced my steps back down the ridgeline and ridge to camp.

Packing up camp went quite fast and before long I was off hiking down the waterlogged road back toward the car.  The hike out was a little longer than I thought it would be, but most of the hike was downhill which was definitely a bonus.  The Pueblo Mountains are amazing, the isolation and remote feeling one gets when hiking and climbing the ridges fills the soul.  I will definitely go back to the Pueblos, 49 down and 51 to go!


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