It is clearly obvious now that I have spent WAY too little time in the Never Summer Range which runs from Cameron Pass down through the northwest corner of RMNP. Starting at Lake Agnes (actually the Lake Agnes trailhead a mile below) with Nick and Mike, we had no clear objective for the day. Just an "easy" day in the mountains for 2 guys "recovering" from some big mountain races less than a week ago, and one "tapering" for quite the mountain adventure in less than a week. It turned out that Mahler and Richthofen (shown above, Mahler on the right) would call us out.
|Just getting started from the shores of Lake Agnes.|
A trail shown on the map indicated a possible route out of Agnes gaining the ridgeline northwest of Mahler. That trail never really showed up until we reached the ridgeline and a climb up the Agnes inlet drainage worked the best. This route led us by two picturesque high mountain lakes, waterfalls, and enough wildflowers to induce multiple spontaneous outbursts of "Sound of Music" tunes. The summit of Mahler came quickly from there.
|The view back toward the Nokhu Crags as we climb out of Agnes.|
|Wildflowers in full bloom.|
|The map was out early and often.|
|A trail and some running greet us on top of the ridge.|
The line to Richthofen from the 12,493 foot summit of Mahler consisted of a narrow crumbly ridge and did not look too inviting. We took it as far as we were all comfortable, but then decided to bail and opted for a long scree ski down into the magnificent basin to the south. From there it would be a longer, but more solid climb up to the 12,951 foot summit of Mount Richthofen, the highest point in the Never Summers.
|The line from Mahler to Richthofen.|
|One of a few routes on the day that just didn't "go" for this crew.|
|Our escape route off the ridge.|
|View down to Lake Agnes from atop Richthofen.|
|Descending Richthofen with Static Peak looming.|
|Almost back to Agnes, but we would be denied on this route.|
Much, much more to be climbed and seen in the Never Summers. A full traverse from Baker to the Nokhu Crags? Good luck.