May 21, 2000 in South
Ken was originally planning on being in California for work all weekend so I had planned on climbing Buffalo Mountain, the southernmost Gore Range peak and an allegedly short and easy hike. It turned out that Ken got home on Saturday night so we met up the next morning and drove out to Buffalo Mountain. It took as a little reconnoitering to find the trailhead, but not too much.
The trail started out by winding through the trees and meadows. Then the trail sorta got lost in the thickening trees and snow. We eventually hooked up with one of the main trails and found a sign that confirmed our sense of direction. We headed for the ruins of the old cabin (actually, we found two so I don’t know what cabin is the correct one – if any) and then ended up hiking past the second cabin. The trail ended quickly (although footprints remained) and the terrain became much more difficult. I suddenly had the sense that we missed a turnoff and suggested that we turn around and go back to the cabin which was only a few minutes behind us. We arrived back at the cabin and had a little to eat while I scouted around. Sure enough, my nose led us in the right direction as I found an elusive trail before the cabin leading up.
We started heading up and the trail pretty much vanished again. We were hiking along the fringes of what appeared to be an old avalanche path. I figured this was right because I remembered reading in some other trip reports that the trail (when not obstructed by snow) went through this avalanche path. I made a few markers so that we wouldn’t get lost on the way back down.
Eventually, we busted out of treeline and then determined our position. We were off from where I thought we were but we quickly established exactly where we were. We were on the northern shoulder of the mountain. We continued up a long snow slope. Ken was leading and using someone elses tracks fortunately. We had done enough of our own kicking in past trips so it was nice to resuse some. It didn’t take us long to arrive on top. We had great views of Red Peak, Demming Mountain, and Snow Peak. We could only see the tip top of East Thorn but it looked awesome.
I wanted to continue hiking to the other summit along the thin ridge. Ken was a little reluctant again but quickly got excited when we started scrambling. We made it over to the top without any trouble. There was only one spot that was kind of tricky but it didn’t exceed 3rd class. A lot of people call the ridge exposed but it didn’t feel exposed at all. It was really pretty easy. We took pictures at the other end then headed back where we took a true summit photo. We met some other climbers (a guy and girl) and discussed the climbing of East Thorn. They suggested a couple of “alternate” trailheads for us to try, one of them was one that I was considering. They headed down and we quickly followed. We were ready for a good glissade. From what we could tell from climbing up it would be a good one.
Indeed, Buffalo Mountain has unquestionably the best glissade of all time. It was much better (faster and longer) than Castle Peak. We basically glissaded from the summit down to the huge run that led into the trees. Before the second run, we rested a bit. Then we were off. Ken, as usual, took off first flying down the mountain. Then I followed. It was awesome, lots of control and very very fast. Ken stopped before going into the trees but I was having so much fun that I continued. (I nearly ran into Ken as I passed him) I was still flying through the trees, reminiscent of the speeder bikes in Return of the Jedi. I must have glissaded another 400 feet before I finally stopped. I turned around and saw Ken zooming down towards me. We had picked such a perfect route through the trees. Unbelievable. We found all our landmarks on the way out so we made it back with no problems.