| Partner Traverse
Peak L ("Necklace Peak")
This is Peak L, unofficially considered to be the “sentinel” of the Eastern Gores. This peak exemplifies all that is appealing of the Gores. Solitude, aesthetics, many miles deep in the heart of Slate Creek Basin, solid rock and classic scrambling to name a few pros. This peak, along with Q, C, Z, East Thorne, the pinnacles of Zodiac Ridge and The Spider the The Fly, are most of the most iconic in the entire state and tend to strike a cord in the hearts of local enthusiasts.
Ben and I had a window of opportunity to hit a nice ridge run Saturday, and the weather forecast was finally looking positive. On Monday, we emailed our buddy Rick (mtnfiend), seeking his interest level in advance. Monday the itinerary read simply the Partner Traverse (12-13 miles and 5000 vertical). By Wednesday, we were thinking of adding nearby 12er Pk.K and 13er Mt.Solitude to the mix. Once Friday morning rolled around, this all was nearly set in stone and by the afternoon, we figured we’d throw in Outpost Peak and call it a nice Pitkin Lake Traverse. Ben eventually figured there are 24 hours in a day and we’re not getting any younger, so he began to venture in to neighboring basins, asking if including “The Saw” over to Pk.P, Q, J, “Spider” and “Fly” was feasible. The sky was beginning to become the limit and ours eyes would prove to be quite a bit bigger than our stomachs.
The 3 of us rolled in to the Pitkin Lake Trailhead, or shall I say East Vail condominium parking lot, around 6am and Rick began feeling a little loopy….
Ricardo Juan Gonazalez
After some light, brief drizzle, we were on the trail around 6:30am, expecting to run some serious ridges. The approach to Pitkin Lake is marked as 4.4 miles. So is Deluge Lake, Booth Lake and the basin to North Traverse via Bighorn Creek. It seems like whoever came up with that measurement went up one trail and called it good on all the surrounding basins, figuring nobody is going to bother with the Gores anyway.
After passing multiple campsites worth a return visit, we saw our access point to the SE ridge stemming off of the imposing East Partner Peak. Given our endurance levels these days, “Mount Solitude” looked a decent distance away, and along with our uncertainty of the ridge from Solitude to East Partner, we figured we’d save it for another time.
We snacked first though and what was on the menu? Why the ever so trustworthy High Fructose Corn Syrup, 99 cent orange Kroger Brand fruit slices from Beef Filler Soopers. The title deserves to be in all caps, cause it is a staple of the American diet. We enjoyed it for its temporary nourishment, as displayed here by Ben….
Ben and his artificial supplements
Salt N’Vinegar Pringles, Kit Kat’s and the standard Planter’s Gorp were also on the menu for the day, nothing out of the ordinary. No Whole Foods Bulk Items this go around, we decided to get more bang for our buck.
Something must’ve seeped in to Rick’s brain from that sombrero he was touting earlier that morning, he couldn’t seem to stop dancing around like Pancho Villa after too many shots of Don Julio….
And here’s a shot without Ricardo in the way…
We made way for the SE shoulder of East Partner, and made sure to admire the views along the way..
Land of Ponds
East Partner w/ Ben in foreground for size
The scrambling as we neared the summit got pretty interesting, legitimate class 3, with some short spots of 4, all on solid rock.
Scrambling below the summit
The summit of East Partner was all ours. According to the register, we were the first to set foot on it since September of 2009, but I happen to know for a fact others that have graced its slopes since then. Needless to say, this felt like a well earned and unique summit.
Ben looking to the NW from summit of E.Partner
Ben and Rick were touting some new softshell jackets from Patagonia and GoLite respectively. This inspired a quick debate about the bend over and take it prices of some companies, such as Arcteryx (better known as “Reach Around’Teryx”).
The debate ended and the traverse began. It was a stout start, but tamed out quick and remained that way for the better part of the first half of the ridge.
We reached the saddle and the Silence of the Lambs quoting session began. After our best Anthony Hopkins and Clarice Starling impressions, we took a quick break on the wide, grassy saddle.
Up till this point, we were all a tad confused as to the difficulty rating of the Partner Traverse, we were feeling a tad unfulfilled. Well, someone must’ve been listening. The second half of the traverse was humbling to put it lightly. Numerous mandatory rappels, upclimbing, tedious downclimbing, knife edge traversing, 3 cruel false summits and 3 hours later, we topped out on the summit of West Partner Peak.
The pics tell the tale better than I can.
Slate Creek Basin
Ben thinking he's on the true summit
Ben now on the real summit
This was some of the most tedious ridge travelling I had even seen. Rick’s 30M 8.0 diameter rope got some decent usage (I recommend it for anyone interested, travelling from East to West) and a prolonged knife edge with nothing but 500 feet of air to our left and 1000 to our right kept our attention for the last 2/3rds. It was one hell of a ridge, that’s for sure.
It was 4pm by the time we topped out on West Partner, literally standing in the heart of the Gores. We could see 95% of the peaks in the entire range and enjoyed another summit all to ourselves.
The descent off West Partner was not all that fun, eventually making it down to the lake within a hour. We really were missing our skis at this point. What could’ve been a 60 minute ski to the car in the Spring turned in to a knee bashing 3 and a half hour slog. We reached the car just before darkness and made a beeline to Wendy’s where we feasted on the dollar menu (more like the 1.49$ menu) before heading back to Denver. Ben proceeded to cold cock himself in the face and stuck his head completely out the window to avoid falling asleep, but we made it nonetheless. A 10 hour shuteye and a growler of Bull and Bush Root Beer was awaiting me in the fridge as I proceeded to guzzle that stuff like Forrest Gump and his 16 Dr. Peppers at the White House College Football All-American award ceremony.
A parting shot….
Pitkin Lake and E.Partner
Now if you excuse me, I’m going to check under my bed for Lord Gore……
p.s. The photoshopped shots are the work of Benners. He finally put his program to some good use and although highly saturated, I like the way they turned out, and had no problem putting them in this TR. Just a quick disclaimer.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):