Buying Gear?  Click Here
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  Precarious Pk  -  13,380 feet
PT 13,260 A  -  13,260 feet
PT 13,232 A  -  13,232 feet
 Post Date:  06/07/2013
 Date Climbed:   06/03/2013
 Posted By:  Furthermore

 Precariously Fun       


Precarious Peak 13,380
Point 13,260
“Cassi Peak” 13,232


June 03, 2013
~12.9 Miles, ~4,900 Gain
TH: ~0.5 Miles short of the Rustler Gulch TH. Stopped due to snow drift. 4WD mandatory for crossing East River in high water. High clearance otherwise.
Max difficulty: Sustained class 3.


Image

Night shifts. I am not a fan and I prefer my 8 hours of good sleep a night. I got off work at noon on the 2nd and started my drive towards Crested Butte. As a leg stretcher I added 12,792, 12,581 and 12,580 off of Cottonwood pass. The peaks went at easy class 2 or class 1 with ~4.9 miles and ~1,900 gain. Ryan was able to join me for 12,581.

Unsure of how far we could drive, we discovered that the road up to Rustler Gulch was open but didn't venture up the road that evening. We both slept in our cars at the 2WD Judd Falls parking area and set up for a car shuttle in the morning in the event we decided to add White Rock Mountain and White Benchmark. Conditions and weather permitting.

Exciting. Now that is a good adjective for crossing East River at 4:00 AM. The water was flowing at a good rate and was surprisingly deep. The crossing was even more exciting in the afternoon as the wake of the water flowed over the hood. Probably will not do that again. More sleep needed.

Further up the road in my sleep deprived state, I missed a snow drift and plowed my car into a ditch and dented the under armor on my car. Ryan, where were you on that one? Opps. We found our parking spot 50 feet beyond the first snow drift and we started hiking up the Rustler Gulch road at 4:25 AM.

Soon the road ended and we were hiking on a good trail up Rustler Gulch. A few stream crossings later, we arrived in the upper basin where snow was persistent above 11,000. Good consolidated snow led us to the south face of Precarious. Two options for snow climbs presented itself; the south face or the southwest couloir. Both appeared to be equally difficult and we decided to climb the south face since it appeared to be a more direct line to the summit. It would also put us in a better position for climbing other 13ers in the area.

Gothic Mountain in the morning light.
Image

Pretty approach.
Image

Avalanche debris
Image

Point 13,260
Image

Looking up the couloir we ascended on Precarious from the base.
Image

Gearing up at 12,400, we donned our crampons and started up perfect Styrofoam snow. A few lines of snow presented itself on the south face and we took the furthest left line without going into steep cliffs. Deciphering a good route wasn't easy at the base. The snow line we took veered right into a more prominent couloir which we couldn't see from our approach from the west. A sweet snow ridge between the couloirs presented some very enjoyable snow climbing as the snow ridge steepened to 40-45 degrees.

Ryan on the lower section of the couloir.
Image

Sweet snow ridge.
Image

Snow ridge (it's not that steep)
Image

Ryan wishing he had mountaineering boots. (it's not that steep)
Image

Once in the main couloir, we encountered a mixed section with some ice and rock before finishing the couloir on 45-50 degree snow. Since the main couloir doesn't ascend directly to the ridge, we had to exit the top of the couloir to the left onto more gentle terrain. The upper portion of the mountain eased to 30-40 degrees where the snow slopes deposited us on the ridge

Mixed ice and rock section.
Image

The steep upper couloir.
Image

Ryan exiting the steep couloir.
Image

Upper mountain.
Image

Ryan working his way up the upper mountain. “Cassi” Peak in the background.
Image

Views from the summit ridge were amazing and the great snow made for one of the more enjoyable 13er summits I have visited. We arrived on the summit at 8:20 AM. The Bells loomed to the north with expansive views to the south. We carefully down-climbed and descended the more prominent couloir to our snowshoe stash at 12,400.

Final bit to the summit ridge. Point 13,260 in the background.
Image

Steep north face from the summit.
Image

Ryan approaching the summit of Precarious.
Image

Bells and Pyramid from the summit of Precarious.
Image

BW of the Bells and Pyramid.
Image

Ryan on the summit of Precarious.
Image

Down-climbing the steep couloir.
Image

Without a doubt, Precarious would go from one of my favorite 13ers to one of my least favorite 13ers without snow. The amount of choss under the snow would be not be enjoyable and both Ryan and I agreed that this peak should be done as a snow climb. Why take a stellar snow climb and turn into a dangerous choss fest? Unless, of course, that is someone's fancy.

With plenty of good weather ahead, we hiked to the “Cassi”-13,260 saddle and ditched our packs for our quick ascent of 13,260. The snow covered northeast ridge made the climbing enjoyable and quick. We arrived on the summit at 10:20 AM. Without snow, the climb would be a class 2 hike on undesirable rock. Again, snow made 13,260 a worthy adventure.

Summit ridge on 13,260. “Cassi” Peak in the background.
Image

Ryan on the summit of 13,260.
Image


Precarious from the summit of 13,260.
Image

As we descended back to the “Cassi”-13,260 saddle, we both agreed the snow was softening at a rate that by the time we descended to Copper Creek and back up to the White Rock group, that the snow would be much too soft for enjoyable climbing and probably too dangerous for any couloirs or glissading.

“Cassi's” southwest ridge wasn't as straight-forward as a class 2 climb since rock towers lined the ridge. Climbing through bands of snow mixed with a class 3 move or two, we sinuously weaved our way between the rock towers up to the summit where we arrived at 11:00 AM. A more direct snow covered northwest face was more appealing for a descent.

Southwest ridge on “Cassi”
Image

We glissaded the northwest face of “Cassi” traversing south back to our packs. Collecting our packs, we descended back down into Rustler Gulch. Snow was softening quickly but we were able to avoid using snowshoes. We arrived back at my car at 1:45 PM for another fine Elk 13er adventure.

Precarious Route
Image

Route Map.
Image



My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Floyd


Amazing!     2013-06-07 09:38:51
That area has been on my short list for an extended snow climb trip for far too long. Thanks for posting. Roach seems to be right on with his classic peaks.


Monster5


Sweet     2013-06-07 10:07:34
Not a fun peak without snow for certain. The pics on the Pit Stop Traverse certainly look steeper than it was. Nice pano too. Thanks for accommodating a partner and plowing through streams and dirt in addition.

Pics with the elusive Furthermore:





















Monster5


Also     2013-06-07 10:33:19
I like how ~4,900 gain is a ”leg-stretcher.”


Furthermore


Oh     2013-06-07 10:38:37
That was a typo. 1900*


Lady McClimbsalot


Very impressive     2013-06-07 12:12:13
This is inspiring! I just climbed Yale last weekend as my first 14er... can't wait to get to this level someday!


lordhelmut


Nice camera tilt     2013-06-07 13:24:10
I never knew 87 degree slopes could hold that much snow. Nice job!


DArcyS


good call for a snow climb     2013-12-16 05:35:26
Ah, I guess after climbing 500 13ers or so you you've learned a thing or two, Derek. Taking a look at the TR's and deciding to try a snow climb, that's a real good call. As you noted, there's a bunch of broken rock up in that basin and you just hopped right over it. Although as somebody who did the south face route last year (your ascent route and SarahT's route as initiated by Kirk M.), we had a party of four on the face and never really considered the loose rock hazard to be exceedingly, uh, precarious. The summer route goes reasonably well even with all the choss around, but I agree, if you're looking for snow climbs and to bag 13ers, I think you're on to something here for Precarious.

Nice job guys, and another fine report. Looking forward to the report on Ice, which is another one of those peaks where snow might make it a lot easier.



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.