| Intro to the Southern San Juans
August 26, 2011
~16.7 Miles, ~5,900 Gain.
Trailhead Start: Elwood Pass turn off on FS380. End: End of road 243 in Treasure Creek. Trail 700 TH at ~11,800 off of FS 330 for Bonito. All 2WD.
Everyone came from different directions. I met Kevin and Pete in Del Norte and then Ken in South Fork before we all made the drive to Elwood Pass. Due to 4WD marked on the map on road 330 from Del Norte and being dark, we decided to drive road 380 to Elwood Pass from South Fork. Road 330 is definitely 2WD as we learned on the drive out and both roads are excellent for 2WD. That evening, we set up our car shuttle and found excellent camping near the high clearance turnoff for Elwood Pass.
Straight from our tents we started hiking up the Continental Divide (707) trail by 6:00 AM. The trail slowly gained some elevation and when we were directly east of 12,498 at ~12,160, we left the trail and hiked up the grassy class 2 slopes to the summit of 12,498, where we arrived at 7:00 AM.
Kevin with the sunrise.
Pete working his way up 12,498
The summit of 12,498.
Final slopes to 12,498.
View to the southeast from 12,498.
12,550 from 12,498.
Long Trek and Summit from 12,498.
The direct west ridge of 12,498 didn't appear to be the best descent option as the rocky ridge looked rotten. We all descended down the steep northwest face of 12,498 which started as loose talus and then slowly transitioned into grassy slopes. When we were able, we traversed to the 12,498-12,550 saddle and then hiked up the grassy southeast ridge of 12,550, arriving on the summit at 7:40 AM.
Northwest slopes of 12,498.
Long Trek from the 12,550-12,498 saddle.
We descended back to the 12,498-12,550 saddle where we re-intercepted the Continental Divide trail and sauntered south towards Long Trek Mountain. As we approached Long Trek, we were able to find grassy slopes up the east face which took us to the talus north ridge and then led us to the summit (8:30 AM). The gentle grassy slopes were an amazing change from some of the talus/scree climbs I have been doing this past summer.
Long Trek from the CDT.
Heading south off the summit of Long Trek were grassy slopes with a short section of talus near the summit. Once again, we found the CDT and continued to follow the trail south towards Montezuma Peak. When we were directly east of Montezuma, we climbed up the east ridge. The ridge appeared rocky but we were able to avoid some difficult sections (class 2) by finding a ledge on the south side of the ridge which took us to the summit, where we arrived at 9:40 AM.
Pete on the Ledge up Montezuma.
Ledge on Montezuma.
Summit Peak from Montezuma.
Trekking over to “The Unicorn” wasn't difficult as we hiked down the grassy southwest ridge of Montezuma and then hiked up the southeast ridge of “The Unicorn” where we arrived at 10:30 AM. Great views all around.
As easy as all the peaks up to this point were easy to combine, Summit Peak wasn't going to be an easy stroll up the north ridge. We descended back down the southeast ridge of “The Unicorn” and hiked south on the CDT around Summit Peak until we were able to hike up the grassy south slopes of Summit. Since Kevin had already climbed Summit Peak, he decided to continue onward towards 12,636. Pete and I arrived on the summit of Summit around 11:35 AM. Due to a recent injury, Pete decided to return to the car after Summit as he didn't want to overstress his healing process. Ken decided to descend with him.
I followed the CDT from below Summit to the Summit-12,636 saddle. From a distance, 12,636 didn't look easy but I was able to find a class 3 chimney on the east side of the summit block where I met up with Kevin.
Rock quality in the class 3 chimney wasn't the best. The chimney took us to the ridge just south of the summit where a few more somewhat exposed class 3 moves were needed to reach the summit (12:10 PM). Pretty neat peak and it was quite different from the other grassy peaks in the area.
Class 3 gully up 12,636.
Kevin making some class 3 moves.
Summit ridge on 12,636.
Summit Peak from 12,636. (True summit cannot be seen)
Class 3 ridge on 12,636.
Buy one get one free. We descended 12,636 and made the very short hike up the grassy slopes to the summit of 12,569 (12:40 PM). Just prior to the summit, we had to climb up an angling (south) ledge to reach the summit. The clouds were starting to build and thunder could be heard in the distance.
Summit block on 12,569.
Summit Peak from 12,569.
Point 12,636 from 12,569.
Kevin descending the ramp on 12,569.
Originally, I was hoping to climb 12,690 but the weather wasn't going to cooperate. Kevin and I returned to the 12,636-12,569 saddle and then traversed to the 12,636-Summit saddle where, and as you might have figured, we found the CDT. We followed the CDT north and then angled for the lake at 12,389.
Lake at 12,389.
From the lake, we descended into the basin (south fork) of Treasure Creek. Down lower, we were able to find a reasonable trail which took us to Kevin's car where we arrived around 2:30 PM. We shuttled back to camp and we then had a caravan to Grayback Mountain.
The only thing I have to say about Grayback is that it is perhaps the easiest 12ver in the state. I guess it makes up for those who climb Turret Ridge. Bonito, our next objective, was also pretty easy and not very time consuming. From the trailhead off of 330 we followed trail 700 until we could hike up the grassy west slopes to the summit. The crux of Bonito was not getting bit by the sheep dogs which were aggressive. The dogs could sense the fear in Pete and we returned to car without being bitten. A fine day indeed.
The extremely hard summit of Grayback.
Kevin on the summit of Bonito.
Route Map Bonito.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):