For no particular reason, I had eyed unnamed peak 10664 for a while. Situated right above Crestone, I thought (incorrectly) that it would give a pretty good view of town and (correctly) that it would be a fairly short day hike.
Elevation gain: ~2500'
Seen from the Willow/SCrestone 2WD trailhead, Burnt Gulch and 10664 are both visible
I've never heard any actual beta on this "peak" from anyone.
From North Crestone Creek trailhead at 8600', it looked like a pretty steep bushwhack up the northern slopes. Then a few days ago I was told that there was actually a decent trail going up Burnt Gulch, on the south side of the ridge, which should be an easier bushwhack from wherever the trail ended.
Burnt Gulch actually had an extremely good trail up to 10000' and possibly beyond. One bit of info I didn't get was how to get to this trail. Topo maps how a 4wd road going up from Crestone to the (very well-defined) entrance to the gulch, but this road is nonexistent. Unaware of the correct way up (below), I ended up just walking up cross-country from Galena Avenue around 8200'. 15-20 minutes brought me to the entrance to the gulch, and from here the route became very simple for a while.
As the name "gulch" might indicate, there was no visible running water, although there was a clear path where water could flow. The trail crossed over this rivulet several times.
The lower part of the trail was an old jeep road, which was rocky and tedious in some places. It didn't take long to get past this part to a real trail. The trail was both easy to follow and of rather consistent elevation gain, with no switchbacks or washed-out places and almost no elevation loss. At about 9700' I passed a cairn and shortly thereafter lost the trail (which, it later turned out, had finally switched back).
I didn't bring a dedicated camera, and it wasn't until well on my way up the slope that it occurred to me to take photos with my phone (which didn't come out especially well). Alas.
A bit below 10k feet, this cairn warns of upcoming hard-to-follow switchbacks
Heading more or less straight up the slope lead to an easy bushwhack. There were some areas of scree which was about the biggest problem I encountered. At one point on the way up (which was probably 50-100 yards east of my route down) I passed what appeared to be an incomplete mine. It went in about 20 feet and then stopped (it did not appear to be collapsed, but rather dug out). I didn't care to go far enough in to get a good picture of the darkness (and my phone did not handle the contrasting light).
A random cave or (more likely) incomplete mine
Shortly after the mine, there were a few rockier segments where I crossed some easy class 3 rock. Around this time I also crossed some very bizarre rock: black sheet-like rock with each sheet being about 1/4 inch across, and stuck together surprisingly solidly angled at about 45 degrees. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of this.
Persevering on, I came up on the summit about 2:20 after departing.
The summit cap was a bit interesting. My route straight up the slope brought me to the ridge just to the east of the summit. The east approach had an easy but exposed-and-loose class 3 route up the last 20 feet or so, followed by a 5-foot-long knife edge with some exposure on both sides. It wasn't anything tricky, but was certainly more than I'd expected from this low summit.
Once on the summit, scanning the north and south sides of the ridge showed no obvious way up; due to the looseness I was reluctant to inspect the cliff edges too closely. On the west side however there was a class 2/2+ approach that spiraled in from the south - still loose but with no exposure.
The majority of my photos come from the summit. I was amazed how good the views were from such a low elevation. However, Crestone itself was not visible as the obvious peak right above town is a false summit that blocked the view. There was a pretty good view down into the North Crestone basin.
SE: Challenger, Pt13151, and UN13546.
ENE: Spring Mountain, Venable Peak, Eureka Mountain
NE: Venable Peak, Eureka Mountain, UN13054
N: Various low 13ers, Gibson Peak
W: A false summit blocks any view of Crestone
S: Blanca and Little Bear barely in view
Inside a small cairn was a glass summit canister with an extremely rusty cap. Twisting it with just the right pressure finally got it open, revealing an ambitiously thick notebook. There were eight names and one dog on the register since 2004; the only one that sounded vaguely familiar was Mike Garratt.
Looking over the south side of the summit cap, at Burnt Gulch
Looking north at N Crestone Creek and Trail
Looking down at the east ridge route up I took
The easier west ridge approach (steeper than it looks)
Low-res summit panorama
Right before hitting the summit cap, I had turned on my GPS track recording, giving me a record of my route down which was a fair bit better than how I went up.
Descending the west ridge, I quickly turned south and went straight down the slope. The scree was a lot easier on the downhill, and I made good time through scree, grass, and light forest.
More of the west ridge descent
Scree on the descent
Looking downhill through light forest
After not too long I hit what was pretty obviously the trail, where it had switched back above where I had lost it before. I could see it continued up with more switchbacks, so clearly I had left it too early on the way up. Once on the trail it was a very quick jog down to the entrance to the gulch.
Here the trail/road split. One segment went downhill to the west, in the direction where topo maps show a road. I knew that didn't go all the way to town, so I instead took the second (better-traveled) road south as it traversed across the slope. This eventually brought me to the 2wd trailhead for Willow / South Crestone trails, 3:45 after my departure.
Knowing now how to get to the trail (not on any maps I've seen), I'm a lot more likely to go back and explore the upper reaches of this gulch.
The actual trailhead
From the 2wd S Crestone / Willow trailhead, past the point where signs say "Rio Grande Forest" and "4wd only past this point", the easy 2wd dirt road continues to the north (keep bearing left at each split). About halfway to the gulch entrance, there is an obvious turnaround/parking lot and it becomes very-high-clearance 4wd beyond that point.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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