| Half Day Silverton 13er.
June 22, 2012
~2.3 Miles, ~1,900 Gain
TH: End of San Juan County Road 21A (High Clearance required, 4WD recommended)
Directions for the TH: From the junction of 550 in Silverton, take CO 110 for .9 miles through downtown Silverton. On the east side of town look for a “Mine Tours” sign, and make a right turn onto County Road 2 which is poorly marked. Once on County Road 2, follow the road for 1.9 miles and make a right turn onto SJ21 which is the first right turn after the pavement ends. Follow SJ21 for .8 miles and make a left turn. After another .3 miles make a hard left turn onto SJ21A. Passenger cars should park here. High Clearance and 4WD can continue another 2.9 miles to the end of the road.
Little Giant, a lonely orphan. Somehow I wasn't able to combine this peak with others, but it worked out as it made for an excellent after work outing. I got off work around 3:40 PM, just outside of Bayfield, and started my drive towards Silverton. As with the previous days, the afternoon weather was impeccable. How could I not try for an afternoon alpine peak?
Making pretty good time towards Silverton, I was at the end of SJ County 21A, geared up and hiking up grassy slopes in Little Giant Basin just after 5:30 PM. Driving like a bat out of hell up the road, I missed the turn for the grassy trail that led to the King Solomon-Little Giant saddle. It is not very obvious from the road.
As I made my way for the King Solomon-Little Giant saddle, I found some neat rocks and was left with an undesirable choice: a steep San Juan scree gully or a chossy and blocky class 2 ledge system north of the saddle. I wasn't really feeling up for a scree flight so I stuck to the ledge system. If there was snow, the scree gully would make for a short but decent snow climb.
High in Little Giant Basin.
Gaining ground to the Little Giant-King Solomon saddle.
Wild flowers in Little Giant Basin.
Little Giant Peak from Little Giant Basin below the saddle.
Chossy, Blocky class 2 terran.
Carefully, I made my way to the saddle and headed directly for the east ridge on Little Giant. I started up grassy slopes for about 100 feet then encountered some blocky terrain so I decided to bypass the blocks on the ridge on the south side. The traverse was on unstable talus as I made my way to the final slope to the summit. On the way back, I stayed on the ridge crest directly which worked out much better since the rock quality was better.
Little Giant from the Little Giant-King Solomon saddle.
Bad traverse on the south side on Little Giant.
For the final 200 feet up Little Giant, I climbed up the south side of the east ridge up unstable talus. I arrived on the summit of Little Giant at 6:15 PM. I enjoyed the views and returned back to the Little Giant-King Solomon saddle via the ridge crest which worked out much better.
Vestal Basin from the summit of Little Giant.
King Solomon Mountain from the summit of Little Giant.
Once at the saddle, I ended up climbing King Solomon's southwest ridge bypassing a small cliff on the east side. After bypassing the cliff, I returned to the ridge crest and reached the summit of King Solomon at 6:40 PM.
King Solomon from the Little Giant-King Solomon saddle.
From the summit of King Solomon, I followed King Solomon's north ridge until I was able to take grassy slopes down to the trail which took me back into Little Giant Basin. The trail made for an enjoyable descent and I returned back at my car at 7:05 PM. I was surprised at the amount of smoke in the air which I later learned was from the Weber fire which had just started a few hours prior to my climb.
Summit block of King Solomon.
Little Giant from the summit of King Solomon.
Vestal Basin from the summit of King Solomon. Smoke from the Weber fire can be seen.
Red skies from the smoke.
Little Giant from where I parked.
More smoky skies.
More smoky skies.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):