Trailhead: Yule Creek/Bible Camp (roughly a mile down road of trailhead)
Elevation Gain: 7,032'
Beta: SarahT's 14erworld TR (From Paradise Divide TH: 10.7mi & 4900') and Craig's (giarcd) knowledge of the area
I had originally planned for the Treasure combo from the trailhead, but Craig said that the mining road that accessed the Treasure ridge from the north, would be a better ascent route than what I was planning. It added mileage and elevation gain, but at the time I didn't know how much. My plan was for ~14miles and ~6.6K. But talking around the fire, Craig got Scott and me interested in this other option. We would have to go through the Bible Camp to get to the mining road. I was just happy that there was someone else interested in these peaks!
So the next morning, we took the short ~10min drive from the campsite to our makeshift trailhead at the Bible Camp, and walked through it (with "permission" from Craig). We found the mining road and followed it. But it petered out, and so we must have found a spur accidentally. So we briefly bushwhacked uphill till we found the switchbacking road. A GPS was quite handy here in the dark, as otherwise it can be hard to spot where to go. The road doesn't exactly correspond to what was on my GPS map, but it was good enough to find our way.
So up we walked on this mining road, through the aspens that unfortunately it was a bit too dark to really photograph. We made quick progress up to the saddle with Whitehouse Mountain, where we got our first hazy views of the rest of the Elks. From here we continued along the mining road as it went through the quarry and on up to the grassy ridge above. I was amazed how high the road went. Afterwards, there was some evidence of a faint trail as it continued towards the summit.
The Rageds through the Aspens
Top of the quarry/road
An old mining building
Following the mining road as it switchbacked up to the saddle in the distance
Capitol and Snowmass
Some cliffs on the east face of Treasure
We took a little bit of a break on the summit as we gazed around us. The fires up in Montana, Utah and Wyoming really hindered some good photos of the surrounding peaks, but at least I was able to get a good view of Sunday's peak, 13,062 B.
Capitol and Snowmass, again
Pt 13,062 B
We followed the long ridge of Treasure all the way to the base of the the ridge crux, which looks to be highly exposed and goes class 5 for the white rock part of the cliff. I didn't bring gear, so it was time to spot the weakness in the cliff band a thousand or more feet down. SarahT did this route in reverse, so I knew what I was looking for, as well as that there would be a cable to take almost all the way to the next summit.
So down we descended, and traversed and scree skied and such. It wasn't all that bad, just a few areas of tricky sliding rocks. But we also found hidden gems in this talus mess. Gold. Or at least that's what it looks like (see last photo - upper left). I need to remember my Geology classes from college. I know it could be Pyrite or Chalcopyrite, but there wasn't a cubic or tetragonal crystal habit to be seen. So I need to do a hardness test and a streak test for one thing. Or I just need my mining geology friend, moon stalker to take a look at it.
From Treasure to Treasury
Scott contemplating the route ahead
Looking for the weakness in the cliff band
The Ridge crux
Class 5 ridge crux
Looking back at the saddle with Treasure
At the traversing point up to the slight ridge feature we would follow up Treasury, we found the cable that SarahT mentioned. So we used it for a little bit, until it went over a rough rock section. So up the nice grassy slope we went. Above that, Scott went back to the cable and I went over to the ridge proper for a while. But eventually the ridge proper went from stable grass to scree. So I decided to traverse over to the cable again.
Scott utilizing the cable
Up the grassy slope
On the traverse over to the cable, I got distracted by the the most awesome boulder ever! It was a giant rock with tons of geodes in it! So I had to take a bunch of photos of the rock I want in my back yard!
Once back at the cable, it was very useful to have one hand on the cable as we both struggled up the slope. It was steep and loose, and having the stable hand hold was nice. Of course, being a mine and a slope that isn't heavily travelled has its advantages. I found tons of interesting minerals and crystals along the way. It was so tough to not go slowly and look at everything! (See last rock photo) My pockets were bulging and still there was more awesome stuff left behind. But Scott was waiting up at the top of the cable, so I kept going.
Looking down the cable from half-way
Time to use the cable to get up the steep scree
Where the cable ends
Getting to the last summit was a nice feeling, I knew we had a long way left to go, but it was mostly downhill from here. The views were spectacular in the afternoon light.
The Bells and Pyramid
Capitol and Snowmass
Elk 14er pano
Descending down Treasury's slope to Yule Pass was quicker than expected, as plenty of scree skiing was to be had. I don't think I would enjoy ascending this way, but going down was pretty easy.
Descending down Treasury's south ridge
What the west ridge of Treasury looks like - scree skiing!
Once at the pass, we had a really nice trail all the way down the valley. There even appeared to be a trail that went up to the area between Treasure and Treasury, maybe to the cable? We did lose the trail in the willows a few times, but always got back to it. There are two trails that go back to the road. One that I can imagine that is the preferred way, and then the old one which peters out to about nothing (an older defunct trail), with just some game trails. Scott and I were talking a bit too much and managed to miss the turn for the preferred path, and found ourselves in a stream valley, with a steep ridge/cliff between us and the other trail. Not wanting to backtrack, we made due and bushwhacked and found game trails to follow.
The long valley home
Almost like a stream chute to slide down
Eventually we found the Marble mine. No way around it, we had to walk through it. It was pretty awesome sight to see. Since not only were we tired of walking/bushwhacking but the the immensity of the mine was breath taking. This is the mine that supplied the blocks for the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
Marble and Colorado Gold
Rocks... and pretty sparkly crystals. What more does a 13er girl want?
That last mile down the road was pretty painful, it seems I have found my limit for mileage and elevation gain/loss in a day. But overall it was an amazing day spent with great company!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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