Half Peak's winter defenses are considerable. At least one top notch Colorado mountaineer made several unsuccessful attempts before finally completing the project. The only viable summit route seems to be the south ridge and, given that reasonable access is from the north, just reaching the ridge is a slight production. On top of that, any approach is long and uninviting and requires substantial travel through avalanche terrain.

Half Peak proved to be a long and physically demanding daytrip even in abnormally dry conditions. We also had to contend with a short but unavoidable and intimidating avalanche slope that gave us substantial pause. Twas quite a rewarding day in the hills.

Dawn high in Cataract Gulch. Expecting a long day, we started hiking around 3:30 AM.

Miles of willows lead to Cataract Lake. Unpleasant and variable but it could have been worse.

Cataract Lake is under there somewhere.

Heading for the Contintental Divide.

On the Divide.

UN 13,580 (right of center).

"Northwest Pole", one of Colorado's more interesting 13ers.

After crossing the Divide we traverse west toward Half Peak's south ridge.

We round Point 12,826 on the south side.

A short but spooky traverse nearly turns us around but the snow seems good and we decide to go for it.

After rounding Point 12,826 we immediately begin climbing north onto the south ridge.

"Northwest Pole" (in the distance) as seen from low on Half's south ridge.

Nearing the interesting part of the ridge.

Class 2+ and trivial today.

Fortunately the route lies on the dry west side of the ridge.

The great San Juan Sea.

Approaching the summit plateau.

Dom lounging on the summit.

Pole Creek Mountain (left), "Northwest Pole" (right) and Rio Grande Pyramid (right, background).

Handies Peak (left), and the ridge we traversed to UN 13,795 yesterday. Boulder Gulch is in the center.

Beginning the loooong trek back.

Rio Grande Pyramid is poking up on the left behind "Northwest Pole".

UN 13,580 might have been our consolation prize if we'd failed on Half today.

"Cataract Peak" & "Tater Top" above Cataract Lake.

Half Peak as seen from the east.

Fifth class snowshoeing in Cataract Gulch.

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