Peak(s):  Grizzly Pk B  -  13,738 feet
"V 10"  -  13,475 feet
Post Date:  07/11/2012
Date Climbed:   06/27/2012
Posted By:  Furthermore

 Choss of the Southern San Miguels.     

Grizzly Peak 13,738
"V 10" 13,475

June 27, 2012
~10.2 Miles, ~4,900 Gain
TH: End of the Cascade Divide Road. (High clearance required.)


Rumors were that driving up Cascade Creek Road was time consuming and long and those rumors were not a joke. I departed work at 3:30 PM with a short stop in Durango for some supplies and started driving towards the trailhead. It takes over an hour to get to the trailhead from Purgatory ski area since the driving is so slow. Eventually I arrived at the trailhead around 7:30 PM to find a trail maintenance crew of ~15 people camping out.

The alarm went off at 5:00 AM and I was hiking down the Colorado trail around 5:30 AM. ~150-200 yards after crossing the main stream east of Sliderock ridge I departed the Colorado trail up a less traveled trail angling upward around Grizzly's extended south ridge.

I followed this trail to ~11,600 before it disintegrated into a scree/boulder field. From the boulder field, I climbed towards Grizzly's south face aiming for the left couloir. Climbing up the boulder field was a bit obnoxious since the rock was loose and at ~11,900, I was able to depart the scree and hike up grassy slopes to the base of the left couloir on the south face.

First view of Grizzly.

Looking back towards Cascade Creek.

South Face of Grizzly.

Looking back at Engineer.

At ~12,800, I climbed into the left couloir, climbed to the top of the couloir and then up the south ridge to the summit, all class 2, where I arrived at ~8:00 AM. Being at a high point in the southern part of the San Miguels had some outstanding views. Great views of the Ice Basin peaks and expanding views to the south.

Looking up the left couloir on Grizzly.

Upper south slopes of Grizzly.

“V 10” from the south ridge of Grizzly.

“V 10” from the south ridge of Grizzly.

Summit seashell?

Looking north from the summit of Grizzly.

Looking down the south ridge of Grizzly.

Traversing to “V 10” via Grizzly's north ridge was not going to be an option so I returned back down Grizzly's south ridge to the top of the couloir that I ascended. Even with good beta (Thank you SarahT), I underestimated the descent west towards South Twin Creek. I started down a gully which I thought was far enough south but after ~100 feet down the gully, I couldn't descend any further due to a 30 foot cliff. I reascended back up the gully and continued even further south on the west side of Grizzly's south ridge. Meandering my way down class 3 ledges, I was able to find a weakness in the cliff which allowed me to descend into the small basin near South Twin Creek.

Class 3 ledges on the western side of Grizzly's south ridge.

Problematic cliffs on the west side of Grizzly's south ridge.

Once on safe ground, I traversed back north below the cliffs on the Grizzly's south ridge towards “V 10.” Heading towards the Grizzly-”V 10” saddle, I found a dying fawn which was rather sad. The last portion of the traverse to the saddle was on extremely junky talus and scree. The great choss of the San Miguels.

Dying fawn.

First gully I attempted to descend.

Working my way towards “V 10”

Ah, only the finest scree.

Battling the scree, I eventually made it to the Grizzly-”V 10 “ saddle. From the saddle, I started climbing up “V 10's” east ridge. About ~200 feet up the ridge proper I was forced onto small chossy ledges on the south side of the ridge as cliffs and spires on the ridge proper blocked easy access. I followed these class 3 ledges ~100-200 feet below the ridge proper through several gullies. This was some of the sketchier class 3 scrambling I have done in the San Juans due to the chossy rock. One slip and I would be launched off 200-400 foot cliffs off of the south side of “V 10's” east ridge.

Class 3 ledges on south side of “V 10's” east ridge.

Initially, I missed the gully back up to the ridge, which isn't marked, and when I found myself on exposed delicate class 4 scrambling, I knew I was off route. This route should only be recommended for the seasoned San Juan scree tango dancer. Daintily, I found the correct gully to the ridge. Once back on the ridge proper, I made my way to the summit where some minor class 3 moves were required to reach the summit. I reached the summit at 10:00 AM and my stay was short due to a massive storm building to the west. I returned back to the spires on the ridge proper but instead of descending back down the south side of the ridge, I descended the north side of the ridge. The descent off the north side of the ridge was class 2 but on very questionable blocks but a much safer option.

The gully to regain the east ridge on “V 10”

Looking back at Grizzly from “V 10”

Upper east ridge on “V 10”

Looking back on the east ridge on “V 10”

Summit of “V 10”

Just below the ridge, the storm hit with rain and some small hail. Working my way towards Cascade Creek was a daunting task as I maneuvered my way down an endless scree field. Before reaching Cascade Creek, I had to bypass a cliff by heading to the northern side of the valley. In an effort to save some gain, at ~11,180 I started an angling upward traverse to try to regain the upper trail back to the Colorado Trail. It was a horrendous willow bushwhack and I would have been better off just following Cascade Creek proper until I intercepted the Colorado Trail.


Descending off the north side of “V 10's” east ridge.

Cascade Creek.

Although I had good intentions of trying to intercept the upper trail, I was defeated by cliffs and was forced back down to the Colorado trail anyways. After that obnoxious willow bushwhack, I welcomed the Colorado trail and worked my way back to my car where I arrived at 12:30 PM.

Route up the south face of Grizzly.

Route up “V 10”

Route Map.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Dang...     07/12/2012 05:47
Sketchy is such a modest term to describe what those ledges look like from your images. Impressive to say the least. Image 3 and 11 are, bye the way, amazing!

Brian C

Where's the choss?     07/12/2012 09:55
I thought there's be some choss in this! Haha. Nice work Derek! You're on fire lately.


I hope that was fun     07/12/2012 16:27
That dinner plate scree looked horrendous. Where's the hero shot showing you carrying the fawn to safety and nursing it back to health?


Awesome     07/12/2012 16:45
Only the best Choss will do. 8) Pic 9 and 21 are quite beautiful.

Doctor No

Good shots!     07/12/2012 18:43
I feel bad for the fawn, however.


Incredible Pictures!     07/12/2012 20:05
Thanks for sharing.


Bracketing     07/12/2012 20:35
What program do you use for merging the pics? Or does your camera have an auto mode?


Re: HDR     07/12/2012 21:54
Ryan - I have a cannon powershot with this software hack that directly overrides the factory camera software. With that on my camera SD card, it allows me to shoot brackets +1,0,-1.


What's up with the seashell?     07/13/2012 03:13
You don't see that kind of stuff on the 14er circuit. Thanks for the TR. You are living in DGO right now? Not fair...

Steve Knapp

San Juan Scree Tango Dancer     07/13/2012 18:48
Ha, I love the terminology. Definitely a chossy hike. Your detailed reports of nearly every peak you climb will benefit generations of future 13er climbers. Nobody else has put the level of effort into documentation that you do. Thanks.

Wow, that is really high up to see a fawn deer. Wonder what happened? Mother must have abandoned and now starving? Perhaps an injury.


Snow Climb?     07/16/2012 15:07
I think this reoprt confirms this will be a Spring climb when I get around to it. I think I may need an annual May trip to the SJs to avoid that scree. The left couloir looks easy enough, does that right couloir go all the way? BTW, pic 11 is outstanding.


hmm     09/20/2014 23:59
I'm hearing from all the locals that Grizzly E Ridge is the awesomest. But I can't figure out which one is the ridge.


V10 alternatives     09/09/2015 18:04
I linked these two peaks but had the dog with me so I didn’t want to follow Furthermore’s route from Grizzly to V10.

I found the ascent of Grizzly to be one of the most enjoyable 13ers west of 550. Note: there is a trail which leads just south of the pond and marsh at ~11550; this trail leaves the Colorado Trail at about N37° 43.781’ W107° 51.669’.

From the summit of Grizzly, I backtracked to just south of the pond and from there descended straight east to intercept the Colorado Trail which I followed north to where it makes a U–turn and crosses Cascade Creek at which point I continued north paralleling the creek on its west side. The next third of a mile ranks with the worst bushwhacking I’ve done in CO; if you absolutely insist on approaching V10 from this direction, rather than fighting through the willows near the creek, you’re better off working your way through the cliff bands to the west and getting into the fir trees before heading north –– doing so eliminates about half of the misery of the willows. Either way, the bushwhacking relents after about 1/3 of a mile and the hiking is pretty straightforward until about 12800 where the slope steepens and the talus becomes mobile (but still not too bad). The last 100’ of vertical to the ridge was class three choss. (The traverse from Grizzly must have been pretty grim to make this section seem like class two for Furthermore.)

If you just have to link up Grizzly and V10, this approach has a lot more horizontal and vertical than the way Furthermore described but it avoids the apparently harrowing traverse of the west face of V10. However it entails going through the miserable willows twice.

If you have the time and patience to do the two peaks separately, I’d recommend approaching upper Cascade Creek basin via the V9 / Rolling Mountain Saddle, an approach the climbingcooneys recommend in their 13ers website.

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