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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

North Star Mountain | Ridge & True Summit

Updated: May 12, 2023

October 18, 2021

North Star Mountain (13,614 feet**)

Route: (southeast shoulder)

6.2 miles; 2,168 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 50 minutes

**Alltrails calls 13,406 feet the summit of North Star Mountain. However, (which is a more reliable source) includes the additional ridge which adds distance and elevation gain. We did the route to the alltrails summit in June (see previous post). Today we came back for the ridge. I counted both as summits but this route is much more technical.

We were still at our new rental property in Fairplay, so it was a quick 30 minutes to the trailhead today. I had Kane with me and met Brittany for the climb. We started around 7:30am. The initial 1.5 miles of the ascent follows Hoosier Pass trail, which is a dirt road. It is class one and very straightforward. There was no snow on this section. The second 1.5 miles of the ascent is much steeper, it was typical Mosquito Range talus with intermittent snow drifts, some of which were knee deep. From the first "summit" there is a ridgeline to the true summit. There wasn't enough snow to deter us but there was enough to make us cautious about the route. It is a narrow talus ridge with significant exposure to the north and a loose talus slope to the south. Due to the snow drifts we had to come off the ridge slightly and climb on the south side of the ridge. There was intermittent snow and quite a lot of loose rocks. It was tough route finding and an exhausting climb. We made it to the summit around 9:50am. The wind was picking up so we didn't hang around for long.

The descent was actually harder than expected. We tried to cut down lower in the talus field to avoid snow but this led to some rock fall scares so we pushed back up until just before the initial summit where we followed an old mining road to where it connects back to the main trail. Without snow, I think it would be an easier route on the actual ridge. With too much snow it is a dangerous route. Today it felt like a difficult class 2 climb with lots of risk assessment and route finding; probably the most technical and mentally exhausting climb I've ever done.

I would not recommend this route for most dogs. Kane handled it very well but if Nyx had been with us I would've bailed before the summit. I had him on a leash for the entire ridge because the exposure on the north side was too risky to not. However, he needed to follow my lead, listen closely to my commands and trust me to navigate this route. I don't think Nyx would've had the technical climbing skills or leash manners needed at this point, I don't doubt that one day she will. So, I would take caution with your dog on this route!!

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