Peak(s):  Whale Pk  -  13,078 feet
Post Date:  08/06/2012
Date Climbed:   08/05/2012
Posted By:  sunny1
Additional Members:   Fishdude

 Whale, Whale, Whale...What have we here?   

Whale Peak from Hall Valley, Gibson Lake Trailhead
Total Mileage: 6.1 miles round-trip per GPS
Total Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
Climbers: Sunny1 and Fishdude

Background: We were looking for a quiet, non-committing hike. Something we could easily complete in a half-day from the Denver area.
I present this option with details, to save you from re-inventing the Whale.

Getting to the Trailhead:
From Denver, take 285 South to Grant.
Continue 3 more miles south on 285, then turn right on Co Rd 60, Hall Valley Rd.
This is a 2 WD road until just after Mile 5.2 from the intersection of 285 and Hall Valley Rd.
At that point, the Hall Valley Campground turn off will be on your left (Rd 120B).
Continue straight with care on Rd 120C 0.2 mi to the stream crossing.
There are rocks to navigate in the road.
Just before the stream crossing, there are a few places to park, if you have 2WD, this is the place to park.
A 2WD with high clearance and good tires or 4WD (preferable) can make it to the Gibson Lake TH, 1 mi further after the stream crossing, or 6.4 mi from where you turn onto the Hall Valley Rd.

The trailhead

There's a weather beaten sign at the south end of the parking lot, indicating the start of the trail:


We measured 2.3 miles one way to Gibson Lake (rather than the 3 mi noted on the sign), and approximately 1500 ft of elev gain to the lake

The trail takes you through a very nice forest. It's a serene hike.
At around 1.6 miles, you'll begin to reach treeline.

Reaching treeline. Fishdude getting hungry for Whale. The peak is just right of center above.

Continue on a well defined trail to 11,879 ft, where you'll find Gibson Lake.

Gibson Lake - there were trout jumping in there

From here you have 2 options to climb Whale Peak. In the photo above, you can hike left of the lake and climb up on the rock shelf, then on to the ridge and hike right to Whale's summit.
We decided to take a direct route, staying to the right of the willows in the picture below.


Fishdude nearing the top of the willows. The summit is to the left, out of sight. Proceed to the grassy shelf, then left up the ramp.

Getting closer, continue upward on the tundra

From the summit, looking at the Tenmile Range. There were great 360 degree views up here

Sunny1 on the summit with Grays and Torreys Peaks in the background (photo credit Fishdude)

Gentian - one of late summer's floral treats

Close up of Gentian

Thank you for reading!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Oceans of Tundra     07/29/2013 18:29
Looks very fun and mellow. Thanks for the excellent description and directions! How easy is it to link up other peaks from that TH?


Other peaks from the Gibson Lake TH     08/07/2012 03:23
It'd be a little far for the Boulder Watershed.
Depends what you're looking for - there are 12ers in the area that could easily be added to Whale. Or, you could continue North from Whale and go across Handcart Pk (12er)to Webster Pass, then to Landslide/Geneva/Sullivan/Santa Fe. Might want a 2nd vehicle for that.
Another option would be hiking Whale from Georgia Pass from the south - you'd get Glacier Pk (12er) enroute to Whale. If you're feeling energetic, you could retrace your steps to Georgia Pass then head south to Mt Guyot, 3 mi r/t from the pass.


Did you notice....     08/07/2012 14:18
... if that rolled jeep was still at the bottom of the gully on the north side of Whale?


Very nice!!     08/07/2012 14:30
Looked like a beautiful day for a hike! Glad you're doing some reports again! Nice to see some new places! Thanks!


Waaay too many puns here.     08/07/2012 15:08
I’m confused. Is this a mountain, a fishing expedition, or a lethargy study? Are you sure there was altitude gain involved here? Just kidding. Glad you managed to get out and enjoy a short jaunt close to home! Must have been refreshing. Whale done.


Thank you for the comments and ”Likes”     08/08/2012 01:26
Dave: glad you found it helpful - it is a very serene hike.
Jay521: I didn't peer over the northern edge of the summit. My loss!
Doug: thanks for the kudos and for reading it. Sorry I missed you this year!
Joe: Never enough puns, I toned it down It was all the things you suggest. Thanks for the chuckle!


Thanks for the excellent report.     08/14/2012 20:58
Have wanted to go up to Gibson Lake and Whale Peak for a whale now, and your trip report gave me the nudge I needed. Went last Sunday, August 12, and parked my 2wd-passenger car just outside the campground. It was a very pleasant trip, although had hazy views in comparison to when you were there as indicated by your clear summit pictures. Added bonus was seeing two moose near the trail on the descent through the forest below the lake.


Glad to hear it, highcountryhiker     08/19/2012 21:17
Thanks - glad you were able to make good use of my TR.
It's a beautiful, serene area. Cool about the moose!

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