| Dumpster Diving in Aspen
With the recent demise of 14erworld, we've seen an influx of solid folks to this site and plenty of interest expressed in trip reports about "obscure" and low peaks. While this site focuses on peaks above treeline, it's evolving into a one-stop shop for Colorado peaks, many of which fall in to the "dumpster diving" category. Now that at least one avowed dumpster diver has made his presence known, I think it's time to push the evolution of the TR section.
Usually the term refers to low-hanging fruit-- peaks conveniently located close to the road on the way home from more heroic adventures, like bagging five low peaks on the way home from getting five 13ers in a single day. I don't know what makes some folks do this, but more power to them! Myself, I just like to hike and see things I would have missed if I drove straight home or directly to the post-climb feast.
So, with plans to ascend Cathedral Peak on Sunday, I started poking around LoJ to find some easy prey on my way to the trailhead. I found Red Butte in the Aspen quad and noted that a city street passes just a few hundred yards from the marked summit. That fit the definition of dumpster diving to me. Seeing that only seven folks had claimed its summit, it also fit the definition of "obscure," if I put out of my mind how many Aspen locals have probably hiked it. Five seconds, about 20 keystrokes, and two mouse clicks got me directions to the TH and a cool moving panoramic of the summit view.
Saturday afternoon, I found the TH, and parked a little down the street. Despite the ominous weather and challenging hike ahead, I packed only my camera and a rain shell. What follows is a dumpster diving adventure. This peak offered many of the challenges and excitement typical of the Elk Range, despite being almost 5,000' lower than anything else I've hiked in Pitkin County.
The trail is part of the Aspen city park system, and starts, fittingly enough, with a sidewalk that bisects the yards of two large and lavish homes. It's hard to miss.
I rounded a corner and immediately felt my balls shrink.
Could I do this? The smooth, clean sidewalk gave way to a rocky dirt trail and Red Butte's summit ridge looked so far away... I regrouped and decided to press on. The solid trail switchbacks mercilessly up to the lower part of the summit ridge. Once on the ridge, I felt like I'd been teleported back to one of the Hogbacks along C-470, but with a luxurious, meticulously crafted Aspen-style trail winding between the scrub brush--not once did the scrub snag my clothes or scratch my shins. Compared to some of the Jeffco peaks, this trail's so nice, it's like the staff of the Little Nell came out and threw rose petals in my path.
Below is the first of several demoralizing false summits.
As I moved down the ridge, I was presented with a little scramble. I'm telling you, this peak has it all.
I topped out onto the false summit, and followed what became a surprisingly exposed ridge walk.
A fall would not be fatal, but I sure didn't want to find out by tumbling down into some guy's pool down below.
I stopped for a second to take in the view of one of Red Butte's more famous neighbors.
Has anyone climbed this one? It looks tall.
I crossed my fingers and hoped that this was the last of the false summits. It was.
Atop the dumpster, I took in some cool views of Aspen and the surrounding area.
The wind was starting to pick up, so I headed down.
Back at the car, I looked at the clock--28 minutes, car to car. I almost fainted with exhaustion. Stats: ~1 mile r/t, 200ft gain, 25 pictures.
If you've ever got time to kill and not much money to waste in Aspen, I recommend Red Butte. It's a dumpster diving classic in my book.
More here in the Aspen Times
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):