5:45am Piney Lake TH, 9300'
8:45am Game Pass(Powell - East Corner saddle), 12060'
11:15am Eagles Nest, 13420'
2:30pm Game Pass
5:10pm Piney Lake TH
Pleasant slopes lead up to Game Pass
Peak C from Game Pass
Dense fog hung over the lake, and within minutes on the trail, the vegetation had soaked my pants, socks and boots. After 3 miles and 70 minutes, I reached the double cairns where the Upper Piney Trail heads right and the trail to the high basin below Kneeknocker Pass goes up and left.
Initially, the trail is easy to follow and rises steeply. Last year I learned that when the trail seems to disappear, turn right towards the creek. It meanders through some boggy and overgrown terrain, staying close to the creek at times. Eventually, I reached the pleasant open basin below KneeKnocker Pass, Pk C and Mt Powell.
East Corner guards the pass
I left the trail and headed north up pleasant slopes to reach Game Pass after 3 hours.
From the pass, I dropped maybe 150' but generally tried to contour at the level of the pass. The terrain here is arduous, varying from small talus to large talus. I'd read that the key is to not ascend too soon, although the steep bluffs above were not enticing. I headed towards a gully with a large patch of yellow flowers and began to ascend. I continued an ascending traverse and hit the ridge at just above 13000'.
A patch of yellow flowers can be seen in the first ascent gully
yellow flower gully
another ascent gully
looking back to Game Pass
The ascent to Eagles Nest went smoothly at this point, and I topped out at 11:15am. The day was very pleasant. I ate, checked in with my wife, and tried drying out my socks and boots.
rocky terrain near Eagles Nest south ridge
The descent took a long time, especially the return to Game Pass, but the effort was worth it for a spectacular day in the Gore Range!
Mt Powell from Eagles Nest
Eagles Nest east ridge from summit