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14er Mount Yale - Chaffee County, Colorado

Mt. Yale - Elevation 14,196 Feet
Mount Yale is a 14er between Mount Princeton and Mount Columbia in the long, vertical Sawatch Range in central Colorado. The mountain tends to be hidden from most spots within the town of Buena Vista, as Deer Mountain is positioned in front of it. Mount Yale is a popular peak for hikers because its standard route via the Denny Creek Trailhead can be accessed without the need for a 4WD vehicle.

Mount Yale Colorado
Photo Above: Mount Yale's handsome southeast face from Chaffee County Road 321, near the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.

Photos and commentary by Steve Garufi in Buena Vista, Colorado. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

Denny Creek Trail


May 19, 2006 - Today Jason Friesema and I hiked to the summit of Mt. Yale. This first picture was taken where the Denny Creek Trail branches off toward Mt. Yale. This is about one mile from the trailhead on Chaffee County Road 306.

As always, I recommend you have a very good topographical of the mountain region you're exploring.

Jason Friesema We started out hike at 5:30 a.m. and below timberline, things were pretty and unseasonably warm for a mid-May morning. There were, however, a few spots where the snow was quite deep. I caught a photo of Jason "post-holing," which is a term for stepping on snow and having your weight push you deep into the snow, sometimes as deep as your rib cage. Neither of us were happy about the snow, but at least Jason smiled for the camera while stuck in it.

Left photo: Near timberline, a large snow area.

Colorado Mountain Hike Above timberline, the views to the north, west and south are amazing! Somewhere behind me is Browns Pass.
Mt. Yale Hike At this point, the trail leads steeply toward a saddle. There were still quite a few snowfields out there.
Colorado Sawatch Range Looking south, I snapped this shot of four Colorado 14ers: Mt. Princeton, Mt. Antero, Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak. Can you identify all four peaks? :)

Plenty of snow in Colorado's high country.

In the bottom photo, I got a shot of Jason in the foreground with Snowmass Mountain and some of the mountains near Aspen in the background.

Colorado Mountain Scenery On the ridge, we were almost there.

Confession: I know I look stupid with the way I held my hiking poles, as though I was using them as crutches. Also, my gators were wrapped around my ankles and all messed up. Good grief! :o)

Mt. Yale Climb The final grunt up the ridge to the summit.
Sawatch Range
Mt. Princeton

Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia
Mt. Yale Summit
Mt. Yale Summit

Mount Yale Summit

Ah the views!

TOP: Looking southwest toward Cottonwood Pass and Chaffee County Road 306. The mountains way out in the middle are part of the Crested Butte area.

SECOND: Looking south, Mt. Princeton is the peak in the middle.

THIRD: Looking east, it's the town of Buena Vista and the Arkansas River valley. Pikes Peak can be seen way out there faintly in the far back right.

FOURTH: Looking northeast, Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia.

FIFTH: Looking north, myself on the summit with a huge mix of mountains that include Colorado 14ers Huron Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mt. Belford, Mt. Oxford and La Plata Peak.

BOTTOM: Looking northwest, Snowmass Mountain and its neighboring peaks are to the left.

Norwegian Tie Now I was fairly dehydrated, in need of more oxygen, and only using 70% of my brain (according to statistics about high altitudes of 14,000+ feet), but I did manage to celebrate Norway's recent Constitution Day. Here's a photo of a Norwegian ribbon I carried with me. A Norwegian friend sent it to me! :)

So here's where things became a little messy. While on the way down, clouds engulfed the area quickly and before we knew it, it was snowing. (Adjacent Photo) No big deal, right?

Well, soon after the snow came down, there were intermittent lightning & thunder rumblings throughout the entire Collegiate Peaks area. When Jason felt a some static sparks from his walking pole, that's when we got really scared and Jason and I jetted downhill toward the forest like two mad men! We left the trail and ran straight toward the nearest area of trees, scrambling down some rocky slopes with loose scree. Jason and I agreed that it was out scariest experience on a 14er. Be careful, folks.

Steve and Megan Hike Mt. Yale - Photos From July 1, 2007
Collegiate Peaks Wilderness
We began at 5:36 a.m. at the Denny Creek Trailhead and hiked at swift pace to start. This first photo was taken above timberline.
Steve Garufi
The sun rises in the east, which was right behind Mt. Yale's summit throughout the early morning. Megan captured a shot of me posing on top of a patch of snow.

Note how dark it was being out of the sun's direction. Even though it was July 1, I must admit it would have been nice if I had carried gloves. And for those of you who live outside of Colorado, yes folks, there are still some patches of snow in the highest elevations of Colorado! ;)

Mt. Yale Hike
The main "grunt" on the trail is located just below the ridge to the left of Mt. Yale. It's quite an uphill stretch! At one point, I captured a photo of Megan looking out at the scenery as we rested.
Mt. Yale
At the ridge, there is one final stretch to the summit that requires some scrambling and use of one's hands. Note that you can not see the summit from this photo; The peak above is a "false summit" that obstructs the top point.
Mt. Princeton Colorado
At the Mt. Yale Summit - Altitude 14,196 Feet

The views up on top of Mt. Yale are truly stunning. This is the view facing south towards Mt. Princeton, the tallest point in the top center of the screen. I snapped quite a few shots of Mt. Princeton from this vantage point that will definitely be going on my Mt. Princeton Photo website. 14ers Mt. Antero, Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak can also been seen way out there on the right.

Mt. Yale Summit View
The view to the southwest, which includes peak after peak after peak ... ;)
Cottonwood Pass Region
Looking out to the west, it was so wonderful to see this grand and beautiful area that I spend so much time in! Included above are upper Cottonwood Canyon (which leads to Cottonwood Pass but is hidden), the gulch leading to Ptarmigan Lake, Jones Mountain, Turner Peak and Hartenstein Lake.
Mt. Yale Summit
A shot of Megan and I. This view toward the north-northwest was arguably the grandest on this mountain; The positioning of the sun also greatly helped!
Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia
The view of 14ers Mt. Harvard (left) and Mt. Columbia (right).
Red Deer Mountain and Buena Vista, CO
Looking out towards the east, I did my best to "fight off the sun" to capture the above picture. That's the town of Buena Vista, Colorado with five "layers" of mountains and ridges behind it. Starting from the top, that's Pikes Peak way out there, followed by Wilkerson Pass, then Trout Creek Pass, then an unknown ridge and then finally Midland Hill directly behind (east) of Buena Vista.
Steve on Mt. Yale
Megan and I reached the summit at 9:35 a.m. and we spent 55 minutes at the top. I celebrated by smoking my pipe, which was quite a doozy to keep lit with the mountain breezes.
Airplane Below
At one point, we spotted a small airplane ... FLYING BELOW US!
Mount Yale Colorado
As we approached timberline as we headed back down, I turned back to capture one last shot of Mt. Yale's summit. The sun had come out in full force by 11:30 a.m., and the lighting on the mountain had changed. This was a wonderful hike and I am so grateful to have done this mountain a second time. -Steve

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