| Part 3: I actually climb a 14er
Day 9: Ice Lakes is everything I thought it would be
Vermillion Peak 13,894
Golden Horn 13,780
Fuller Peak 13,761 (unranked)
Beattie Peak 13,342
“V 8” 13,300
12 miles 5400 feet
I’d been putting these peaks off for about three years, I don’t really know why. We hiked past all the lakes to Fuller Lake. From there we hopped over the talus up to the saddle between Vermilion and Golden Horn. The climb up Golden Horn is pretty straight forward, follow the climbers trail then up ledges to the exposed summit.
There are a few ways to climb Vermillion from Golden Horn. The ridge direct does not go, and we would have to climb the top of the dried out coulier. This did not appeal to us, so we followed the wide bench to the Vermillion and Fuller saddle. There is a good climbers trail all the way to the summit. Although the summit gully is as unpleasant as ever.
photo by tdawg
summit block photo by tdawg
Back to the Vermillion Fuller saddle and up to Fuller. Now for the fun stuff, the 700 foot descent in .25 miles. Make sure your ankles are talus proof. Luckily there is a decent trail most of the way, my ankles were still bloody afterwards. Beattie is a quick 320 climb from there. “V 8” is only .7 miles away and the contours suggest a mild climb. Don’t be fooled.
fuller descent photo by tdawg
The rock is mostly stable on the traverse and if care is taken it can be kept at class 2+. We tried to follow the ridge crest as much as possible because it was the most solid rock and thus the quickest way to travel. We had a few class 3 moves mixed in. The crux of the traverse is a 100 foot climb up dirt and embedded rocks in a gully. My advice is to just motor up this section and worry about catching your breath later. I didn’t know exactly what the ridge to Hope pass would hold. But from what two Montrose locals we met on the traverse told us it didn’t sound pleasant.
“V 8’s” western summit is maybe a hundred yards from the true east summit but it takes a long time to reach it on unstable rock. This trend of unstable rock continued on to Hope Pass. 600 feet down in .25 miles on the San Juan’s finest talus. About halfway down this crap pile I let out a primal yell to go along with the constant stream of expletives and threw a large rock down the slope. Finally we reached the pass and had a rather pleasant albeit long hike back to the car.
"V 8" descent photo by tdawg
Day 10: No names
14 miles 4500 feet
Thus far in our trip we hadn’t been too concerned about weather. Just one crack of thunder when we were near a summit. Today would change that, on what was one of our easiest days.
Thanks to Furthermore and a knowledge of the Hardrock 100 course we followed the trail up to the 12579 12601 saddle. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. It was a quick grassy walk to the summit of 12601. Near the summit we saw a stone circle, are they now doing pagan rituals on 12ers. We descended to the 12601 13042 saddle, the did an ascending traverse to the south ridge of 13042. It was all easy grass to 12738.
We debated adding Bear to our day, had it been all clear skies we would have. We hurried over to 13042 the to 12579. We had just enough time to touch the summit before lightning struck the Twin Sisters, we sprinted down to the trail and to treeline before walking the rest of the way down.
Day 11: Cirque du Sneffels
Mount Sneffels 14,150
Cirque Mountain 13,686
9 miles 4300 feet
I really don’t have much to say about Sneffels which has not already been said. It will go down as one of my favorite 14ers.
We descended to the 4x4 TH and decided the weather would hold for a climb of Cirque. I was excited, because of my desire to climb peaks with the greatest cliff faces in Colorado. The easiest way to climb Cirque from Sneffels is to descend to 12,400 feet bypassing some towers then to ascend steep grass then talus and scree to the saddle with Sneffels. There is a good use trail through the talus. I recommend climbing the talus to the side of the trail, unless you like to go one step back for every two steps forward.
looking up gully
Follow one of the many climbers trails to just below 13,500 where they all combine into one trail which traverses around the north side of 13,500. The first crux is to climb a 10 foot class 2+ wall which blocks easy passage to the upper ramparts of Cirque. Continue on an easy climbers trail to the second crux below the summit ridge. Cairns mark the easiest way up the class 2+ rocks. This is a spectacular perch. We descended the way we came.
1000 foot cliff
tdawg downclimbing crux
Day 12: Monsoon season sucks
Sheep Mountain 13,168
15 miles 4000 feet
I had big plans for this day, a traverse from Sheep to 13016, 6 13ers. %$^ing weather. We followed the Little Cimarron trail about 5.5 miles to 10,800 feet where we could follow an avalanche chute to the saddle between these peaks. I was hoping to find an elk trail which would make travel easier, what I found was a human trail which made travel very fast.
we went up this avalanche gulch
looking up at the saddle
looking down at towards the avalanche gulch
summit ridge of sheep
From the saddle it was a quick climb to Sheep, where we admired the hoodoos. 13,100 is a quick addition. I really wanted to climb 13,681 but early lightning over the valley had other ideas. By mid afternoon when we were back at our campsite all the storms had passed, go figure.
crossing the river
photo by tdawg
photo by tdawg
The electrifying part 4 coming soon
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