| Middle of the Elks
August 7, 2011
~13.5 Miles, ~6,500 Gain.
Trailhead: Geneva Lake (4WD)
Assuming the weather was going to be good wasn't much of an option so I started hiking early at 5:30 AM. I followed the trail to Geneva Lake and then around the lakes' northwest side to the unmarked trail junction leading to Trail Rider Pass. Things seemed to be going slow as I was a little stiff from the 3 prior days of climbing.
Snowmass and Hagerman.
Geneva Lake bright an early.
I followed the Trail Rider Pass trail to ~11,500 and then left the trail at the river crossing climbing northwest up grassy slopes. The path I took wasn't the correct gully mentioned in Roach's descriptions but it still took me to the upper meadow below Hagerman's south slopes. The correct trail heading up to the upper meadow wasn't obvious to me but then again, I didn't look very hard.
First view of the south face of Hagerman.
Looking up the south face of Hagerman.
Horror stories of loose rock on the south face of Hagerman were on my mind as I made my way towards the south face buttress that would take me to the east ridge. As I made my way upwards on the south face, I didn't feel the climbing was all that horrendous. Certainly there were some loose blocks but it didn't seem all that scary. I felt that all of the climbing to the east ridge was class 2.
The Treasures from the east ridge of Hagerman.
Once I reached the east ridge, it was a short hike to the summit where I arrived at 9:00 AM. I soaked in the views of Snowmass Mountain and Snowmass Lake and then started my way back down. As I was descending the top of the south face, I ran into another climber. Trying to keep my distance he mentioned, “Hey, Furthermore.”
Snowmass Lake from the summit of Hagerman.
Snowmass Mountain from the summit of Hagerman.
The Bells from Hagerman.
Ok, wtf, who in the hell would know that? Sure enough, I ran into one of my climbing partners John Kirk. At first, I didn't quite recognize him but as I got closer it was obvious. After a short exchange, we figured out we were on the same climbing agenda and decided to hook up for the rest of the day. I waited for him to summit and return so we could descend the south face together.
John descending the south face of Hagerman.
At ~12,400, we started contouring east directly towards Trail Rider Pass. Travel was slow as it was a boulder/talus hop the entire way to the Pass. Once at the pass, we climbed southeast, class 2, up the northwest ridge to the summit of “Trail Rider Peak” where we arrived at 10:30 AM. It was amazing to see Hagerman looming overhead.
Trail Rider Peak as we near Trail Rider Pass.
Northwest ridge up Trail Rider Peak.
John working his way up Trail Rider Peak.
Impressive north face of point 12,653
Point 12,653 from the summit of Trail Rider Peak.
John, 13,062 and the Bells from the summit of Trail Rider Peak.
Hagerman and Snowmass Peak from the summit of Trail Rider Peak.
Our stay was short and we continued onward. We descended “Trail Rider's” southeast ridge to ~12,800 where we then descended northeast into the valley towards the “Trail Rider”-12,653 saddle. The descent was a somewhat loose talus scree slope.
From the “Trail Rider”-12,653 saddle, 12,653 looked tough but as we climbed closer we found weaknesses in the cliff bands on the southeast face (class 2). We arrived on the summit of 12,653 at 11:15 AM and the views of the surrounding peaks and of Snowmass Lake were outstanding. After catching our breath on the summit, we returned to the “Trail Rider”-12,653 saddle and then headed upward on grassy slopes to the 12,653-13,062 saddle.
Our route up 12,653
Snowmass from 12,653
Snowmass from 12,653
13,062 from 12,653.
Snowmass Lake from 12,653.
For our last peak of the day, 13,062, we started up the west-northwest ridge until we reached a white/green commemorate cliff band. Travel above this cliff band looked rough so we ended up cutting to the west side of the northwest ridge where we found a grassy traverse along 13,062's southwest face. We followed this grassy ramp as it angled upwards, class 2, which eventually intercepted 13,062's southeast ridge. From the southeast ridge, it was a class 2 hike to the summit where we arrived at 12:10 PM. The views of the Bells were outstanding and the weather was holding out nicely with blue bird skies.
John working his way towards 13,062.
John on the ledges on the southwest face of 13,062
Ledge system on the southwest face of 13,062.
Trail Rider Peak, Hagerman and Snowmass from 13,062.
Bells from 13,062.
12,653 from 13,602.
We returned to the 13,062-”Trail Rider” saddle and found a good game trail descending northwest from the saddle. Unfortunately, the trail ended and we ended up hiking directly west down some grassy slopes towards the Frigid Air Pass Trail. The grassy slopes didn't last and our downhill battle began. At first, it was just a dry rocky stream bed and then the terrain steepened and we ended up down-climbing through a small cliff band. Overall, the descent wasn't too bad and we hijacked the Frigid Air Pass Trail which took us back to the Geneva Lake Trailhead where we returned at 2:00 PM. Outstanding peaks with fine weather.
The west-northwest ridge of 13,062. The last part of the ledge system leading to the southeast ridge can be seen.
Falls from Geneva Lake.
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