Gibson Peak 12,878
May 25, 2012
~11.6 Miles, ~7200 Gain.
Trailhead: San Isabel Lake Trailhead.
Trout Creek Pass. The usual spot for meeting Al. I met him at 7 PM on Thursday night and started our drive to the San Isabel Lake Trailhead. To our surprise, the trailhead start wasn't very obvious as it was hidden on the southeastern edge of a grassy meadow. Consequently, that is also where we camped.
I was sleeping really well when the alarm went off which is always painful. After a short breakfast and a breakdown of camp we started hiking up the San Isabel trail by 5:40 AM. The trail was in pretty decent shape and was easy to follow. There were several stream crossings as the trail meandered its way up the valley.
One of many stream crossings. (Photo by Al)
Around ~10,400, we left the trail and headed up a steep slope covered in a beautiful aspen forest. The bushwhacking was fairly easy and we gained elevation quickly into a small basin on the south side of 13,028. At times, we found game trails to follow as we climbed into this basin. Once out of the trees, we took the class 2 south ridge up to point 13,000 and from point 13,000 it was a quick trip to 13,028 where we arrived at 9:20 AM. We had short celebration for my 500th ranked summit in Colorado over 13,000 feet.
Navigating the to the aspen slope. (Photo by Al)
The aspen forest.
The basin to the south of 13,028.
Al climbing the south ridge of 13,000.
Point 13,060 and Point 13,062 from the summit of 13,028.
Al nearing the summit of 13,028.
Rito Alto Lake was fairly impressive from the summit of 13,028 as it looms almost 2000 feet below the summit. Our stay was short due to a cold wind and we headed down the west ridge of 13,028 and skirted around the northeast side of Point 13,000. We headed directly for the south ridge of 13,060 following a grassy ledge on the east side of the ridge.
Me descending 13,028. (Photo by Al)
Working our way to 13,028-13,060 saddle. (Photo by Al)
Grassy ledge near the 13,028-13,060 saddle.
Heading up the class 2 talus ridge on 13,060 went pretty quick and we arrived on the summit at 10:15 AM. Since we were returning back to this summit, we ditched our packs and started our way towards 13,062. I knew the crux of the north ridge of 13,060 was going to be a short 40 foot cliff band. About 50 feet above the cliff band we headed down a grassy gully on the east side of the ridge for ~50 feet then angled north down a grassy ramp to the 13,060-13,062 saddle. We both agreed we didn't really want to down-climb the cliff band.
Al climbing up to the summit of 13,060.
Neat rock near the summit of 13,060.
Point 13,028 from the summit 13,060.
Elaine Lake from the summit of 13,060.
Point 13,062 from the summit of 13,060.
Al descending the grassy gully on the east side of the north ridge of 13,060.
The angling grassy ramp to the 13,060-13,062 saddle.
Climbing to 13,062. (Photo by Al)
Climbing to 13,062. (Photo by Al)
Looking back on the crux.
We headed up the south ridge of 13,062 and found the rock to be very solid and fun. Arriving on the summit of 13,062 at 10:55 AM, we stayed a bit longer to enjoy the views. Our next objective, Gibson Peak, appeared distant. We headed back to the 13,062-13,060 saddle and decided to climb the cliff band crux on the north ridge of 13,060 directly.
Options for the north ridge of 13,060.
Climbing up the cliff band started with about 30 feet of very solid class 4 and then steepened for about 2-4 moves of 5.0 climbing to the top. Once on the top of the cliff band we climbed back up 13,060 arriving at 11:30 AM.
Al climbing the 4th class.
Al making the few short moves of 5.0.
From the summit of 13,060, we descended down the talus class 2 ridge until ~12,700 and then descended south down a mix of talus and grassy slopes to a small marsh at ~12,100. Just above the marsh, we hiked towards the saddle located just northeast of Point 12,453. Before reaching the saddle, we climbed directly up 12,453's east ridge bypassing a cruxy cliff on the north side. The climbing from the saddle up to point 12,453 appeared to be tough but looks deceived us and the climbing was only class 2.
Gibson from the west ridge of 13,060.
Al working his way towards Point 12,453.
Once on top of 12,453 it was an easy hike to the summit of Gibson where we bypassed Point 12,777 on the south arriving on the summit at 1:20 PM. Too many options for a descent. All of which didn't look great. We decided the “shortest” route would be to descend the steep direct south ridge of Gibson to intercept Mill Creek.
Gibson from 12,453.
Lofty perch on Gibson.
Things on the descent went smoothly down the south ridge until ~10,200. The ridge proper was steep with many large boulders preventing an easy walk down. We ended up descending this horrendous talus gully until reaching Mill Creek.
“Well Derek, I think you outdid your self this time.” Al's wonderful comment once we intercepted Mill Creek. The gully for Mill Creek was narrow and full of lush vegetation. Our next .5 mile trek down Mill Creek was very time consuming. Being somewhat desert in nature, many of the plants weren't very friendly. Finally, we got a break in lush vegetation at ~8,900 in an aspen forest.
Continuing downward, we found an old road ~8,800 which we followed until ~8,300, which we departed southeast directly for the car. We arrived back at the car at 4:30 PM. Although direct, I can't recommend the direct south ridge off of Gibson.
GPX from Al.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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