|“This small collection of photos commemorates our climbs on Trinchera Peak in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of southern Colorado. We chose a beautiful Saturday morning in mid-September for our first climb and the weather was magnificent. We left town at 7:00 am headed west on Highway 12, the Scenic Highway of Legends.”After crossing Cuchara Pass (9,995′) we went down the hill to where the Cuchara River emerges from the hills west of us and drove four miles in, just past the Blue Lake Campground. 1/4 mile up the road on the left we parked in the parking area and began the walk up.
“There is a reasonably drivable jeep trail there that goes up for three miles to the crest of the mountain ridge (approx. 12,500′ elevation) between Trinchera Peak and that high ridge to the north. At that saddle there is an incredible view down into the valley on the west side of theSangre de Cristo’s and across the San Luis Valley. However, it was harvest time in the valley and the dust layer in the atmosphere below us to the west obscured a lot of the view.
“There is no real trail from here to the top of the mountain but there are footprints in places and the rock faces that fall away on both sides of the mountain force everyone to climb through the same small notch in the cliffs and rocks in order to reach the top. Once you are over the notch, the backside of the mountain opens in a huge, rockstrewn meadow that goes all the way to the top. The top itself is a pretty wide open ridge with a large rock cairn at its highest point.
“The view was spectacular (what else could it be?) We shot film, ate lunch, toasted life, and started down. But we chose to go down on the south side of the peak to avoid the rock faces and cliffs (we hoped.) We soon found ourselves on all fours going down a 45 to 60 degree slope. And it went for a thousand feet down like that. We stopped regularly and enjoyed the views. That’s when we started to see the bighorn sheep all around us. But we couldn’t get close to them. Just as well.
“We only met half a dozen people on the mountain, all of them in one group. Trinchera Peak was, in some respects, a harder climb than the West Spanish Peak and it seems to be somewhat less popular. The presence of the bighorns more than made up for the lack of other climbers.
“This is a good climb from late spring to early fall. We do it at least once a year. And since that first trip, once we reach summit we either head south down the ridge to Cuatro and Maxwell or we turn around and go back down the same way we came up.”