| Another I-70 Scramble
"Hassell Peak:" 13,215' CO Rank 471
Pettingell Peak: 13,553' CO Rank 217, Grand County Highpoint
Via Herman Gulch TH
Friday evening, I got a call from my buddy Kevin, who'd been lounging on the beach in Costa Rica and Panama for the last month while I've been working for the man...
"What, 13ers, you say?" Well, we've been doing these together for about five years now and this would be our first hike this year, so he didn't have to twist my arm. As it was late in the evening, and fire bans were everywhere across the Front and Tenmile Ranges, we decided to head out from D-Town early Saturday morning, foregoing a night under the stars (sans campfire) for the comfort of our beds and an early commute to the TH. It's getting tough to find 13ers near Denver that neither of us has hiked, and I'd already done Pettingell, but by the pedestrian standard route. We decided to combo Hassell and Pettingell, going up the class 3 ridge to the summit of the latter. What we found was a delightful scramble that offered nearly as much fun as the combo of Golden Bear-Hagar-Citadel, visible across the way. Both of these are worth your while. Everyone who lives in Denver has hiked to Herman Lake, so I'll save you the trivialities of the trail for the first two miles. Hike steeply through the forest until the trees open up and you can see Pettingell and its east ridge for the first time.
When we reached the junction with the Jones Pass trail at about 2.5 miles in, we turned right, ditched both trails and headed up grassy slopes to the ridge that joins "Hassell Peak" and Pettingell. This is that sign.
Photo by Jay_521
I stopped to talk to a cute trail running gal who'd passed us earlier, and Kevin started ahead.
When we topped out on the ridge, a look to our right showed the obvious route to Hassell.
The summit is the middle bump
We moseyed on over to the summit, taking care to note that we'd have some good boot skiing on the mellow snow upon our return to the saddle. I'm becoming a firm believer in the idea that good snow should never go to waste. Why pick your way through shitty talus when you can SLIDE? The wind, which had been relentless to this point, gave us respite on the leeward side of the summit and we took in the view of the ridge to come
Summit Cairn and Pettingell (Kevin photo)
After a very chill 15 minutes or so, we got that boot ski in, most all the way back to the saddle.
Of course, the wind was back, but this time, it was a headwind, and we pushed, undaunted, forward, toward our objective:
This is part of what we slid down
Now, to to the money part of all this. Just as we reached the first interesting portion of our day, the wind stopped. It just stopped! Time to be grateful, time for some fun!
Kevin ponders our first obstacle
The ridge provides a series of small towers, mellow knife edges, and obstacles to overcome. There's exposure, but it's nothing crazy.
The faint-hearted talus lover can keep it at class 2+ by staying off the ridge proper, dropping onto the south side.
We chose otherwise, Overall, it goes about class 3, but you can find spicier moves all over the place.
Here's a photo montage of our journey:
(Photo by Kevin)
Mellow knife edge action
What lies ahead
Kevin getting over it
All that's left
About to top out (Kevin photo)
Views from the summit of Pettingell are expansive, and much nicer than my first time up here...
Holy Cross, anyone?
Get a load of them Gores
After some lounging, snacking, and taking in the view, we decided to ditch the standard route's tedious scree/grass descent to Herman Lake and continue along the ridge to unnamed point 13410.
Looking back at Pettingell along our route
The little 'sidewalk in the sky,' reminiscent of Eolus' catwalk
Hagar lurks behind Snoopy's Backside
Why go so far out of the way with Gordon, Modus, and Avery Karmas waiting at the car? Well, because we could get a huge glissade in, that's why!
During our ascent, Kevin had noted this snowfield and its potential for good times, and I was down for fun...
Feet and ax, ready to deploy (Kevin photo)
There goes Kevin
Here I come!
Post-glissade, we found ourselves well above Herman Lake, with no defined path back to the lake and main trail, so we descended toward the creek that drains the lake.
We came down this slope...
...cooled our heads under this snappy cascade...
Then followed the creek through occasional willows, snow bridges, and marshy flats until we found some very nice campsites with a trail that links to the main tourist vein. Just before we got on the main trail, we made a gentlemen's bet regarding how many people we'd pass before reaching the car. He bet 25. I played the classic "Price is Right" strategy and said, "24." Things were looking good, as we made it over half a mile seeing only seven hikers. As we moved on, the rules evolved. "Dogs don't count, not even for half." "If we pass someone, and they pass us back, that's still only one!" Anything to make the beer come sooner... I was feeling pretty smug until we rounded a corner and found a huge Christian youth group retreat hanging out in our path. At least 25 people right there. Shite. "Double or nothing!!!" This time, I bet high, and we saw no one for a long time. Kevin looked satisfied. I kept the faith and was rewarded with exactly the number I needed to win the bet. Soon after, we were back at the TH, the noise of I-70 a distant chatter as we cranked up some tunes, popped open the beers, kicked off the boots, and sank into our camp chairs.
11.1 miles, about 4000' gain.
Two peaks, one great Saturday.
Jay_521's excellent TR
Kane's Summitpost route page
LoJ Loveland Pass quad
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):