These are the Summit Aprons of gorgeous, alpine, granite slabs which beckon you forth from the Summit Lake cirque. 5-9 pitch climbs treat you to a backwater but aerobically friendly alpine experience. Each of the three aprons will offer a different experience. Left to right, the 1st Apron will offer the longest climbs with the least sun with a distinctly more challenging bit of climbing including overhanging, offwidth 5.7. The 2nd Apron offers brilliant, moderate slabs of link-whatever-features-you-wish-climbing with quite adequate protection. The 3rd Apron offers the least steep but the least protected of the bunch. 25-35 minute approaches (timed with a watch, though some may need 60 minutes) keep the legs fresh and save the alpine wakeup calls. Ambulatory or automobile descents offer variety of experiences. Beware of midday lightning. Enjoy!
Drive I-70 west from Denver to exit 240 and up the Mt. Evans CO Highway 103. Go to Echo Lake (~10,000'). Follow the summit road to ~12,500 to Summit Lake. Park. Look up. These aprons are arbitrarily called (from left to right) first, second, third. If you can't see the aprons, you may want to do something else. Take a leisurely (Addendum: some argue with this adjective) alpine walk 25-35 minutes (Addendum: timed with a watch; later - some take up to 60 minutes) to the base of your desired apron. Hop aboard. Some early season ascents will require a bit of snow crossing. During moist years, snow may persist. Ambulatory descents include right of the 3rd Apron or left of the 1st Apron down the hiking trail. Automobile descents require a traverse to the observatory area (L) and a protuberant thumb or a bit tourist schmoozing between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
1st Apron (left one) from Summit Lake Cirque. This route sketchily described in Peter Hubbel's Front Range Crags. An interesting adventure. Bigger than you might guess and steeper than it looks. 30min approach. Due to fair bit of snow, the start can vary. P1. We traversed in from the left towards the obvious, big, left-facing dihedral. This 1st pitch (?300 feet) involved a bit of simul-climbing on low-angled slab with spots of 5.7 R to a belay near an overlap. There is a pin near here. ...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Aug 15, 2002
Someone asked how tall the [Second Apron] was, so I brought an altimeter along yesterday. By subtraction, this second apron is 530 feet tall.
Also, one of my partners came across an old pin in a thin crack between the right and central lines I described earlier. It is below the left side of the M-shaped overlap about 80 feet up. Seemed the rock was getting smooth in the 5.9 range with diminishing pro options. You may find a white sling hanging on this pin about 40 feet up.
Hey, I was wondering if anyone had some information on routes existing on the First Apron, and more importantly where can I get more information about all of the routes that exist on Evans? Just curious cause this is kinda my backyard, and I would like to exploit it more. Thanks.
Another option for the descent: stash bikes at the end of the road at the summit before your climb. There is a bike rack, bring a lock. Dress warm, then float back to your car at Summit Lake. Easier on the knees and a lot more fun than walking down talus! Doug Redosh
A few things I'd like to add regarding area beta, and I think this would helpful to add to the area description above.
1) I took two altimeters with me yesterday, and the average between the two put the Second Apron at 750, which seems right, as it took me four and a half pitches at 50 - 65 meters per pitch (I was using a 70m rope).
2) The approach. Let's be clear about this. You don't just "take a leisurely alpine walk." Not even close. It will take about an hour from the parking lot to the base of the Second Apron. I'm in pretty good shape, live in Denver, and unless I knew exactly how to get there and really huffed and puffed getting there, even 35 minutes is unrealistic. I mean, there's about a 700-800 foot gain in altitude just on the approach. Also important is how to get there. From the parking lot, walk back to the road and follow the road about 100 yards on toward Mt Evans. Cut back off the road just where the lake meets the road. You'll walk a trail that will eventually disappear amidst tiny ponds, and then you'll begin the harder section ascending a skree field. It took us 50 - 60 minutes to get there, once we'd found the trail.
3) The car/hitch hiking descent is not always an option. Be sure you check to see if the last five miles (after Summit Lake) is open or not before you bank on this; luckily for us, we took our hiking shoes and just descended the talus on the climber's right of the Third Apron (about 1 - 1.5 hours back to the parking lot).
4) Regarding the Second Apron. Climbed on September 18th, 2010, there was a bit of snow on it, and I don't think it was leftovers from last winter. Also, a lot of the climbing was "dirty," covered in moss, dirt, and/or lichens. Not all that hard, a bit heady in places (often because it wasn't so clean), but still a fun way to summit a 14er.