| Intro to the Gore
Snow Peak (13,024') - Gore Range
June 2, 2012
TH: Deluge Lake
Partner: Matt Lewis
Beta Credit: SarahT (report), Chicagotransplant (report), Lordhelmut (conditions)
Note: As per Gore style, the route description will be kept vague.
Colorado's Gore Range - a reputable wonder of rugged peaks and excellent routes of various forms. Un-crowded and hardly touched by mining, the range remains pristine and refreshing. Teasing, furtive glimpses from nearby ranges hardly describe the peaks' splendor.
Snow Peak, with a planned traverse to Valhalla, seemed a great introduction.
At a glance (March, '12 with an old Olympus Stylus 850. RIP).
A quick drive up I-70 in the glorious season between ski and summer hiking traffic allowed for a rendezvous with Matt at the small Deluge Lake/Gore Creek Trailhead off of exit 180 for a 4:40 start.
The approach is as steep as advertised and we were foolish enough to carry full mountaineering kit in misguided anticipation. The steep section eventually gives way to hummocky terrain, where scattered snow drifts remain and lightly obscure the path.
Finally entering a larger clearing, we stopped to evaluate the fun-ness on various lines: Valhalla first or Snow. Pickings were slim, but a single, meager strip up Snow Peak gave us hope.
A bit of hope
We followed several hundred feet of lightly frozen snow before intersecting the south ridge, avoiding class 2 tediousness and despair. The couloir was slightly better than first-glance impressions suggested and it reached a moderate angle, which was nice as it was Matt's first time using crampons in the wild.
The classic lesson on the ineffectiveness of strap-on 'pons with flexible boots had Matt yearning for unstable talus. A rite of passage to snow for some.
As I was taking the above picture, my helmet was bouncing a few hundred feet back down the couloir. Amateur.
Views of our intended route greeted us upon reaching the ridge.
Valhalla and Snow
Though Snow's summit appeared close, the ridge offered plenty of spice. It can be kept at class 3 with a few snow crossings, but harder moves are reserved for the apathetic route-finder.
After a few notches, snow crossings, minor towers, and enjoyable scrambling, the summit finally appeared. A brief, exposed catwalk provides final access.
A brief summit rest for pictures and peak-guessing just before 10:00 and we were on our way to Valhalla.
The snow was soft and a few leg breakers lurked beneath.
Grand Traverse Peak
We dropped west to avoid the towers and found ourselves with quickly approaching weather. The bottoms were heavy and the clouds moving fast - another half hour or so and we'd have some sparks. We estimated another 1.5 - 2 hrs to summit Valhalla and get below treeline near the cabin and Deluge Lake.
For the 112th time of the day, we yearned for the speed and freedom of trailrunners and summer packs. Hardly an attitude befitting supposed mountaineers.
The call was made and we began the descent to the upper basin. Here, we took a quick split for the sake of optimizing time and curiosity - I contoured around to our ascent couloir and retrieved a precariously perched helmet while Matt was able to investigate the Cabin.
I tested out the optical zoom on the new camera while Matt was waiting down below.
Some unidentifiable peak
We met up in a meadow and cruised down the endlessly steep trail to booms of thunder, "we-coulda-made-Valhalla"s, and refreshing rain.
All in all, a fun day and a fine introduction to the Gore. We topped off with a humbling visit to the Teva games, where I sadly contemplated how easily the 16 year old female boulderers can beat me up.
Matt's pictures forthcoming (unfortunately, he has a life).