Looking for the Prize at the end of the 13er rainbow
Middle Mountain A, Pt 13463, Prize Benchmark, "Booby Prize", Pt 12750, Pt 12934 A, Pt 13322
Skill level: Class 3 ( 4 or higher if desired)
Route note: Descending (or ascending) Pt 12,934 via the east ridge is not advised. Rock is unstable and a rock avalanche is possible (as noted by movement and lack of lichens on rock)
Sunrise on Jenkins
I had been looking to hike in the Sangres this weekend, but with the smoke, I was forced to the north and west. So why not a Sawatch loop followed by an Elk one? I printed out a few options, since I thought day 1 might be a "bit much" for me, even after a big ski season. Plus I was breaking in new boots, and a new R1 hoodie, so I may need to take it easy if my feet get sore. So up the road by the La Plata trailhead I went. A bit rough, but high clearance vehicles should have little problem. I reached the end of the road by the gate, and took a nice rest till the next morning. No storms predicted, so a 5:30am start would suffice. An hour later I was on top of my first peak.
Grizzly and Garfield
As soon as I started west along the ridge, I could see that there may be some difficulties along the way... Guess I'll figure it out once I get there. It's what I get for drawing lines on a map!
Route over to Pt 13,463
Looking back at Middle Mtn
Booby Prize looks like it may have some good skiing!
I approached the first towering gendarme, and it was obvious that there was no class 4 option to climb it that would be easy. Plus there were 2 down climbs that could also prove problematic without a rope and gear. So I dropped to the south and by passed the gendarmes, until I was confident that the ridge would go, then scrambled back up on top of the ridge. Higher up, my suspicions were confirmed - ridge doesn't go.
The towers/gendarmes look... slick.
A look back at the class 5 west sides of the gendarmes
One peak #2 about an hour and a half later. Great view of some other 13er scrambles on my radar!
Pano of western Sawatch peaks.
The Prize peaks
No avoiding the bump along the ridge to Prize BM, and from there I could see that there would be more scrambling near both Prize summits. In fact, except for the ascent on Middle, Pt 13,322 and the 12ers, all the connecting ridges had scramble sections. So plan extra time for them. Fun, a full day of scrambling!
A look at Booby Prize's north ridge
Prize BM's class 3 ridge section
On top of peak #3 on my consistent 1.5 hour schedule, hmmm. Farthest out on the drainage, it's all back towards the truck now!
Booby Prize from Prize BM
From my vantage point on Prize BM, the first ridge scramble section on Booby Prize looked like a lot of fun (and it was!), but the second looked like it may not end well, so I avoided the second one. The backside looked like a steep and loose descent, and was faster to avoid by going around to the west.
First section of class 3 on Booby Prize (I went up some class 4 slabs just off ridge proper for fun)
Second part of scramble on first section of class 3 on Booby prize
The class 4 back-side of the second ridge feature on Booby Prize
Ahhh the summit of Booby Prize, and I'm all alone. What to do with myself? Hmmmm I think I'll take some "classic" photos.
Not what you were thinking huh? That's a Blue Footed Booby
How about this....
Still not what you were expecting? Sorry. I took "that" photo, but I don't really feel like posting it, it's not my style.
Ok back to the scramble loop. I dropped off of Booby Prize to the south, as I didn't like the way the ridge looked. I crossed some snow and got back to the ridge below the blocky section and headed down and over to the 12ers. I wasn't quite sure how badly I wanted these 12ers, but the thought of bushwhacking in the willows for that length was worse. So up and over some ranked 12ers I go!
Looking back at the ridge down Booby Prize
The 12ers and 13er to go...
Looking back at the route from 12,750
Descending off Pt 12,934 was a bit of a nightmare. The rock is incredibly unstable, and is poised to rock slide at any point (as evidenced by the lack of lichens on the rock). I had to pick my line very carefully and I was not comfortable until I was well off that slope and far away from any potential slides. Now to just ascend another 1,000' for the last 13er... ugg. It wasn't the up I was worried about, it was the down. My legs were getting tired at this point, but from all my skiing, my uphill legs were doing well. It was more an issue of down - hiking. Those muscles haven't been used in months and were getting pretty tired at this point. But I was there, and going through the willows to get back to the trail was going to be painful enough, so up I went.
Looking back at the very unstable slope of Pt 12,934
Is that a cute cuddly little fox?
I think I hung out on the summit for quite a while, not wanting to head back down. The puffy clouds were slowly clearing away in the late afternoon, and it was quite pleasant up on the summit of peak #7 for the day. Going down wasn't going to be fun, nor were the willows (which sucked all the more since they swallowed whatever was left of the Lake Pass trail). But eventually the call of my stomach for bacon burgers won out, and I went down. Exhausted but happy with my long scramblefest.
Turner Peak, Pt 12581
With the huge day on Sat, there was no way I was going to do a similar loop in the Elks. So it was time to punt and pull out plan E - an easy walk up from Cottonwood Pass. So after 2 doses of Advil, I slept through the supermoon shining on me, and rose after the sun rise to drive up to the pass. From there it was a simple stoll over a bump and then a 1000' up to Turner Peak. Glad I packed my mesh trail runners, no way I was putting the boots back on today!
The 3 Apostles, from Cottonwood Pass
Route up Turner
Some nice views of the Apostles and other Sawatch peaks are the reward for my efforts. Plus a nice early morning glissade! Mmmm snow, how I love thee!
The 3 Apostles and Huron
Emma Burr looks nice from this angle
Only down side was reascending the bump along the ridge... At least I could just climb up the snow! Much faster than walking on rocks, scree, tundra etc. It wasn't until I got home, that I realized that the "bump" was actually a ranked 12er. Well huh! 2 peaks today, not bad for my wrecked legs!
My snow route up and down Pt 12,581, Turner in background
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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