french mountain - 13940' - NE face class 2
Matt and I decided to climb another Sawatch Centennial and agreed on French Mountain. Since he wanted to also traverse over Frasco, Casco and Lackawanna, and since I had already done those three peaks, I agreed to just ascend French Mountain, then drive around to pick him up. So I drove us up the Halfmoon Creek Road where we were able to park right at the trailhead. We started up the old road and crossed Halfmoon Creek. The road took us most of the way to treeline up South Halfmoon Creek. When we found a nice place to start ascending steeply, we left the road, crossed the frozen creek and mounted the east slopes of French Mountain. We basically followed a line straight up and I even found myself on some exposed 4th class terrain before we both arrived at the mellow upper slopes. The final hike up to the summit was simple however since there was more snow this time around after a recent storm, the terrain was very bright and I was happy to have my ski goggles but wishing I brought my sunscreen. I really wasn't feeling great either so when we both arrived on the summit we took a snack break and I started my way back down. Matt continued south towards Frasco Benchmark. He would traverse all the way down to Highway 82 where I would pick him up. I decided to take a line down the mountain further south to avoid the rough terrain we had going up. I succeeded nicely but upon reaching the valley floor, I was greeted with more post-holing. I stayed out of the trees for the most part and was relieved to find our tracks and the old road once again. When I reached the car, I drove out and went further south and up Highway 82 to wait but as the hours passed and 5pm was approaching I was getting slightly worried. The meeting place I told Matt before the trip turned out to be a different spot than what I thought and Matt descended a rougher route down Lackawanna with more bushwhacking than necessary. A nice biker on the road mentioned to me that Matt was about a mile down the road from where I was waiting at which point we were off for some dinner. You can find his account of this trip here.