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 Peak(s):  Cirque Mtn  -  13,686 feet
Emma, Mt  -  13,581 feet
 Post Date:  10/02/2007 Modified: 06/06/2012
 Date Climbed:   10/02/2007
 Posted By:  Furthermore

 Gems of Yankee Boy.    


Cirque Mountain 13,686
Mount Emma 13,581


October 1-2, 2007
~9.5 Miles, ~5,100 Gain
Trailhead: ~11,800 on the Yankee Boy Basin Road for Cirque and ~11,100 on the Governor Basin Road for Emma.


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Sometimes things don't go as planned but they work out for the better. My wife, Kevin and I made our drive from Denver to Ouray and drove up Yankee Boy Basin to ~11,800 where I took off to take care of Cirque Mountain as an afternoon jaunt. From the Yankee Boy road, I headed on grassy slopes to a broad talus gully to the west of the Cirque's summit.

Sneffels from low on Cirque.
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Gaining the southwest ridge of Cirque was a bit tedious fighting loose talus along the way. The talus became more “stable” once I reached the southwest ridge. Continuing up the class 2 talus ridge, a few short cliff bands had to be climbed to gain the summit. Some class 3 moves were required but were short and not very exposed. I arrived on the summit of Cirque and enjoyed the views of Teakettle and Sneffels.

Sneffels from low on Cirque.
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Teakettle from the west side of Cirque.
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Coffepot and Potosi
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Gilpin and Emma.
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Teakettle from the summit of Ciqure.
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I returned to the south facing gully at the end of the southeast ridge and enjoyed one of the finest and fastest screes back down into Yankee Boy Basin. Knowing that camping isn't allowed in Yankee Boy, we were able to find a spot on the road leading up to Governor Basin. Since it was early October, we figured we wouldn't get caught.

Our original plan was to wake up and climb Teakettle but overnight mother nature gave us a few inches of fresh snow. Waking up to the surprise of a few inches of fresh snow left us in a bit of a limbo. Climbing Teakettle with a 5th class finish, probably wasn't going to be a good idea, not to mention the class 4 black gully being slick. I looked at my topos and found out that I hadn't climbed Mt. Emma which was just above our campsite. I knew nothing of the route but we decided to give it a try.

Morning light on Teakettle with the fresh snow. Will not be happening today.
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Kevin and I left from our camping spot and started hiking up the Governor Basin road. The road was much too slick to safely drive any higher than from where we parked. We gradually made our way into Governor Basin where we were stunned by the spectacular views of the Saint Sophia Ridge and spectacular mine ruins. The fresh snow brought out a unique beauty to the area.

Morning light on Stoney Mountain.
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Clouds rising.
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St. Sophia Ridge
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Sneffels from high in Governor Basin.
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High in Governor Basin.
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High in Governor Basin.
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Looking out of Yankee Boy.
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From Governor Basin, it was clear that a direct climb of Mt. Emma's south ridge was out of the question. Skirting around the eastern edge of the peak, we slowly made our way upwards as the fresh snow made travel rather time consuming. The fresh snow and clouds looming below accented the beauty of Yankee Boy Basin making this one of the best days of climbing for me.

Another shot of St. Sophia Ridge.
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Skirting around the southeast side of Emma.
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Climbing up the southeast side of Emma.
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Climbing up the southeast side of Emma.
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Climbing up the east slopes, we eventually intercepted the south ridge ~200 feet below the summit. We climbed around and over rock spires as we searched for the summit. Most of the travel was on class 3 terrain. From below, it was hard to distinguish the true summit. Finally, we climbed up a block that gave us a good view of the true summit block. Travel between the two summits wasn't going to be easy and some exposed slick class 3 scrambling was required as we descended and then reascended to the true summit.

Emma's summit block
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Rock spires on the summit ridge.
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Final notch to the summit block.
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Reaching the summit of Emma was a special summit for me. I'm not sure if it was the complete lack of beta, the adventure of finding the summit, the conditions, the views with the fresh coat of snow or all of the above. We soaked in the views of Teakettle, Sneffels and the Wilson’s before starting down. On a complete high, we returned via our ascent path back to camp. One of the best days of climbing, ever.

Sneffels from the summit.
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Kevin walking to the summit.
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St. Sophia Ridge from the summit.
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Telluride from near the summit.
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Zoom of Sneffels.
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Gully to the west side of Emma.
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Class 3 action on Emma.
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Route up Emma from Governor Basin
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Emma from lower in Governor Basin.
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Route Map
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