Note: It may be advisable to supplement our description with that posted on 14ers.com since much of the Huerfano route follows the Mt. Lindsey standard route. The Lily Lake trail takes out through forest and then quickly arrives at a large meadow which we found filled with bright yellow flowers in one area in 2009. There is little elevation gain so you can move quickly. After the trail leaves the meadow, it re-enters the forest and continues to the turnoff for Lily Lake to the right after a mile. Do not go up the Lily Lake trail. Remain on the lower valley trail another 100 yards or so. The trail for Lindsey will cross the river here. There is no bridge or logs, usually, so this will likely be a wader unless later in the season. The trail up Lindsey, once faint when we climbed it many years ago (prior to 1983) is now well established (2009). It first parallels the river for another quarter mile, then pulls steadily up through forest, following on the north side of a tributary drainage to the Huerfano River with a talus field on your left. After one fairly steep section, it opens into the upper, tundra filled basin. Mount Lindsey lays off to the SE and peeks above the eastern skyline while Blanca Peak dominates the view to the SW. The Blanca-Ellingwood headwall is indeed very impressive.
As you head up the tundra valley, you may see some animals moving about. We cautiously approached them using small hills as a barrier to conceal our approach. The animals turned out to be Bighorn Sheep and there was a substantial group of them numbering over a dozen. Among them were several young sheep – at least three of which we were able to obtain a nice photo of. It turns out our caution was unwarranted. Probably because of the heavy and regular human traffic in this area climbing Mt. Lindsey, these sheep had become tolerant of humans and allowed us to approach rather closely. So we snapped numerous shots and then continued on our way up the tundra-filled valley to near the foot of Huerfanito.
As you head on up the wide, tundra valley, Huerfanito presents a difficult looking north face with cliffs ranging 200 – 300 feet high, mostly toward the eastern end of the summit block. To avoid these cliffs, angle SW and then west and gain a saddle on the very prominent NNW ridge that extends off the peak. Once at this saddle, enjoy a very dramatic view back down the valley. There was also a great photo opportunity to catch Blanca with a prominent prow forming a backdrop.
From the saddle, turn south and southeast, walking on almost all broken rock and talus for the next 400 feet toward the summit ridge. You will encounter a little bit of rock scrambling as you push upward. Then you will come to what you may assume to be the final section to the summit. When you arrive at what you suppose to be the summit, (probably the 13,081 point on the USGS map), you will see that there is an eastern summit which appears higher. Walk along the rocky terrain toward the high point. This higher summit is more tenuous and a feels more exposed. Soak in the amazing view sandwiched between three enormous 14ers.
From the summit, here is a different way to take back down. Scramble down on very loose, smaller rock to the ESE, dropping into a shallow bowl with possibly a snow bank still intact. This is nearly a 500 foot drop on rather unstable rock.From the small bowl, stroll over to the saddle that delineates Huerfanito from Iron Nipple and Mount Lindsey. It is in the vicinity of this saddle that you can reconnect with the Mount Lindsey trail. We hiked on by an unmarked tarn that offered some nice reflection of the surrounding mountains and paused for some photos here, then continued on down. For the remainder of the trip, just follow the trail back to the Lily Lake TH, or you may want to consider heading north along the ridge to tag 13,828, Huerfano Peak. Total round-trip hiking time was a little over an easy 6 hours.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.