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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Pennsylvania Mountain

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

April 24, 2022

Pennsylvania Mountain (13,006 feet)

Route: Alltrails (Southeast Ridge)

4.75 miles; 1673 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Not my first time to this beautiful mountain, actually my third summit & fifth attempt. It has definitely become a personal favorite for spring time climbing because of it's low avalanche risk and shorter distance/low elevation gain to start acclimating for summer!

When I saw the weather forecast for this morning, 5 mph winds & clear sunny skies (pretty much everywhere), I got the summit-itch. I started scanning the weather forecast for options that avoided avalanche terrain, because of snow in the forecast. This is honestly fairly limited when I am being ultra conservative because I am taking the dogs...below are the other options I considered:

- Mt. Cupid/Mt. Sniktau: forecast called for 12" of snow between Friday & Saturday evening.

- Mt. Bierstadt: similar snow forecast & I wanted to bring both dogs, it tends to be a busier winter option near the front range.

- Quandary Peak: 12-18" snow forecasting and a busier option.

- Mt. Flora: fresh snow and a 25+ slope to cross, ruled out due to risk of potential of unstable snow.

- Niwot Mountain: poor conditions/snow forecast all day in this area.

I settled on Pennsylvania Mountain because of it's lack of avalanche risk, lack of snow in the forecast (3" on Friday & 1" on Saturday) and perfect forecast in terms of wind.

- The hourly forecast ( for the nearest 14er): the ideal window was 6am 12pm which is very doable for this length of hike.

- Avalanche risk ( if you stick to the trail there is no avalanche risk to walk on or under. If your dog is off-leash you will want to keep them away from the ridge edge where there is a steep drop off. It is a wide open mountain as you can see on the topographic map, so there is plenty of room to avoid that.

Hike Summary:

I woke up at 5am, left home at 5:20am, arrived at the trailhead at 7:15am and was hiking by 7:30am. You start in the trees where snowshoes were necessary. I kept them on for the first mile and then didn't need them the rest of the hike. There were patches where spikes were helpful but not necessary. I reached the summit in 1 hour and 40 minutes and descended in 1 hour, with 30 minutes on the summit; making it about a 3 hour trip. There were patches of fresh snow, patches of wind packed snow and completely clear patches, fairly typical for April but actually much less snow than I expected. There is snow in the forecast so it may not be clear for long. There was no visible trail or tracks to follow, while it is a pretty straightforward hike I would absolutely recommend having the map downloaded so you stay on track. I only saw one other hiker who reached the summit about 15 minutes after me, otherwise it was a day of solitude!

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