Friday, September 28, 2012

Toll Keeper

A late start from Boulder, couple scenic pit stops along Peak to Peak Byway and a gear conundrum (spring-loaded camming device or avocados), I was grateful to fly under the radar as vacationing crowds flock in droves to Rocky Mountain National Park while Indian Peaks Wilderness and Mount Toll sit in isolation. Before I can pucker at the base of Tolls North Ridge my senses are overwhelmed by cobalt blue alpine lakes, patchy krummholz, cascades, alpine tundra, scree, boulders and a grand cirque of mountains. Reaching Toll's North Ridge is praiseworthy accomplishment but not time for jubilation. From here we trace out a number of steep looking lines and start climbing three pitches rated anywhere from 5.4-5.7. For us east coasters the altitude, exposure and position of the climbing is "classic". One more balancy crux move, a big jug and I stumble on 12,979 foot Toll, speechless. We linger in the commanding views knowing below us is spicy scramble down to Blue Lake and a long ass death march back to the car. A toll worth paying!

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

break time
Toll's North Ridge start of the technical climbing

Pawnee Pass - Indian Peaks Wilderness 

Blue Lake - Mount Toll basin