Support 14ers.com
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  Mt.Zirkel - 12,180 feet
Orno Peak - 12,133 feet
NW Orno - 12,027 feet
 Post Date:  07/09/2013
 Date Climbed:   07/05/2013
 Posted By:  Matt
 Additional Members:   12ersRule

 Scenes From Below the Seduction Line   

For the past few years, my Independence Day weekend has included either Big Peaks (Rainier) or 13er bagging trips to the San Juans. This year, things spun out a little differently, and long-neglected county highpoints (like those recently featured here in the TR section, thank you Brian Thomas) came to the forefront.

What the peaks featured here share is spectacular scenery off the beaten path trodden by the 'elevation snobs' among us (you know who you are).
I was fortunate to recruit Dave to come along. In fact, he suggested Mt. Zirkel, and I jumped at the chance.
The routes to the Ornos and to Zirkel are well-documented, so I will mostly let pictures tell the story here.


July 4th: NW Orno and Orno Peak


NW Orno: 12,027'
The (unranked) highpoint of Rio Blanco County
Orno Peak: 12,133' with 753' of prominence.
16 miles and approximately 3000' gain.

After being delayed at work on Wednesday, I dodged the evil mess of gaperdom that was I-70 between Evergreen and Floyd Hill, taking Clear Creek Canyon instead. Things only got better from there, and I met Dave at the TH around 9:30 p.m. We decided to start hiking around 0600, and morning came much more quickly than I'd have liked.
Still, having been to the Flat Tops before, I knew we had a gorgeous hike ahead, so I got moving and we hit the trail.

Image
We started here, with Flat Top Mountain looking on

Image
Image
Image
Our next goal, Mandall Pass, awaits at the center of this photo

Image
Looking back toward Flat Top Mountain

Image
Atop the pass, little flowers and big views abound

Image
Image
Nearing the "summit," which boasts a genuine county highpointer coffee can register

Image
Orno Peak seen in the distance

Image
Looking back at "NW Orno"

Image
Dave heads for the summit of Orno Peak

Image
A little class 2 fun leads to the summit

Image


References:
Colvill and Mitchler's Hiking Colorado's Summits
COHP.org trip reports for Rio Blanco County
LoJ Devil's Causeway and Orno Peak quads
Summitpost Orno Peak page



July 5th: Mt. Zirkel


Mt. Zirkel: 12,180' with 3,470' of prominence (CO Rank #14)
Routt County and Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Highpoint
17.5 miles and approximately 4000' gain

Most people do this one as a backpack, and that was our plan, at least initially. Having heard stories of how amazing this place is, I did not want to rush things. However, we underestimated the length of the Orno combo, and found ourselves in Steamboat Springs realizing that after getting our packs ready, hiking in, and hurrying to do so, we'd expend less overall energy and get more sleep if we just day hiked it. So, we did!
We arose at the ungodly hour of 0430, and were hiking by 0515. I had some trepidation about the length of the hike, given our efforts of the previous day, but this was Mt. Zirkel! I'd been waiting for this one for years.

Image
Welcome!

Image
Waterfall 1.5 miles in

Image
First of several creek crossings

Image
Gold Creek Lake (good camping spot at 2.8 miles in)

Image
Image
We were glad to have microspikes for parts of this

Image
Looking back at our route

Image
Red Dirt Pass

Image
We ascended this grassy slope toward Zirkel

Image
First look at Zirkel

Image
"Peggy Peak"

Image
Dave heads toward the summit ridge

Image
Big Agnes Peak, one I hope to return for

Image
Summit ridge rock

Image
Looking back toward Red Dirt Pass

Image
Old mining cabin

Image
Chilly crossing of Gold Creek


The looong hike out went more quickly than expected, and cold beers at the TH rewarded us with hoppy goodness.
Thanks, Dave, for making a great weekend arise from the ashes of another plan.



References:
Colvill and Mitchler's Hiking Colorado's Summits
LoJ Mt. Zirkel Quad
Summitpost Mt. Zirkel page
COHP.org trip reports for Routt County
14ers.com trip reports by kmaley and climbroutt



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (26)
sunny1


Supercharged summit     2013-07-09 07:32:45
Congrats to both of you - I've joined the burgeoning jealous, looky-loo tribe - been wanting to explore the Zirkel wilderness for awhile.
Great TR and pics!! The bait has become irresistible!
Plenty of seduction to be had below 13K.
Sometimes Plan B is just right.

Glad the electricity missed you.


rickinco123


Flew over that area once in a Cessna     2013-07-09 07:40:17
It looks as beautiful on the ground as I imagined from the sky. Lots of green tundra. Great photos!


djkest


Sweet     2013-07-09 08:19:51
Zirkel has been on my list for sure. Nice to see a report on this gem.


12ersRule


Thanks for writing this up     2013-07-29 12:29:11
Good times! Also thanks for the intro to GKnight. I picked up a 4pack on Saturday. I like!

Think that Zirkel is one of those must see places in Colorado. For me, it compared to some of the best on the 14er standard tour: Snowmass lake, the Bells, Willow Creek, Chicago Basin.

Good hiking with you. Lets do it again sometime!


Presto


Ye Olde Coffee Can Register ...     2013-07-09 10:37:49
What beautiful photos, Matt! And, nice of you to bring ”Dave” along. This one's for you ”Dave” ...

We did do that backpacking/camping thing for Zirkel (in fact, the climb ended up being a loop ... ended up climbing one route and descending another encircling the whole mountain). I really love the wildflower shots. You picked a couple areas that are seldom visited ... my type of trip. Thanks for posting. Happy trails, my friend!


Brian Thomas


Prominence Peaks Rule     2013-07-09 11:56:11
Zirkel and Big Agnes are on my short list, THANK YOU for writing this up.

I bet that felt really good checking that Zirkel box on your Lists of John checklist.


Floyd


Incredible Photos     2013-07-09 15:36:31
Did you take a class over the winter?

Thanks for posting this Matt. I know you've been wanting this one for a while now. This looks like something that I need to share with a few of the young ladies in my life.

I was actually thinking of hitting Orno later this summer as a Dad-Daughter trip. Awesome timing!


DanR


Nice report     2013-07-09 15:41:23
with some great pictures. I loved Zirkel as well, and I guess I'll have to add Orno to the to-do list.


SuperPolok


Oh dang!     2013-07-09 15:53:31
Yup, as usual Matt, you have awesome taste in peaks. More that are ”on the list” for me.


vonmackle


Mmmmm     2013-07-09 17:41:06
Some mighty fine photos there, sir. My wife and I are considering hitting the Flat Tops for the first time this weekend. Looks pretty seductive to me!


Matt


Comments     2013-07-09 19:30:06
James, I will admit to hitting the ”Enhance” button in iPhoto, but that's really it. I think good photos come from the person, camera, and being in the right place at the right time.
Sayre, it looks like you had a pretty memorable weekend yourself. Congrats!
Sunny, will this persuade you to end your elevation snobbery?
Anna, thanks. You two have pretty good taste in peaks, yourselves. Sorry I couldn't join in the IPW a couple weeks back. Maybe we can do something later this year?
Rick, Kest, thank you!
Scot, no class, just a new camera. We need to try and plan our Fall car camping extravaganza sooner than later this year, eh?
Dan, thanks. I think you will dig the Flat Tops. Just take bug spray. Let's try and get out this summer.
Presto Why does it not surprise me that you and ”the man” made a loop out of this? Let's do another WoB happy hour with cheap Mexican food some Tuesday soon.
Brian, I am sure you'll be as jazzed as I was to check that box when you get there. Thank you for your participation.
SuperPolok, thanks for the compliment. Coming from you, it means a lot!
Cameron, if you like the photos, then I am truly proud. I can only hope to follow in your footsteps.
Dave, thanks for making this happen. I look forward to our next outing!


kansas


Photos     2013-07-10 06:49:36
Wow, seriously, wow.

You always find some amazing places to walk around in, looking forward to hanging out in a ”Matt place” soon.


kimo

The road less traveled     2013-07-10 08:30:32
Gotta say, this is right up our alley, as we've been working on plans to get up there for the Zirkel wilderness experience. As Anna mentioned, we almost made it this past weekend, but the weather forecast took a dive. Long drive to get washed out. Now I wish we had, as it would have been good and appropriate to run into you out there. Jack Brauer has taken some great pics of the Sawtooth Range, Scott P has written good things about the area in the past, and now your TR confirms it: we need to get up there. We should put something together for later this year, maybe with Scot and crew, or for Big Agnes or some other off-the-beaten-path wilderness high point.

Nice pics btw!


benners


Looks Great Matt     2013-07-10 10:53:33
Big Agnes is one cool lookin' peak. Nice photos and thanks for taking the time to share these unique areas with us!


Floyd


Matt - no class     2013-07-10 11:05:17
Seems about right. E-mail forthcoming on car camp.


sunny1


Soul searching, done.     2013-07-10 12:28:40
Elevation snobbery has a tenacious hold.
I'm gonna need an intervention

(Dave's already tried...)


Ridge runner


Zirkel     2013-07-10 13:41:41
I made a couple attempts to get up to the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness but was forced to bail on the hikes due to thunderstorms. I spent both times just driving the roads and scoping for good camping spots for ”next time.” Until then I'll have to live vicariously through your trip report. Congrats on getting up to a beautiful area.


EatinHardtack


Great Pictures     2013-07-10 16:05:14
Great pictures Matt. These mountains remind me of the Scottish Highlands. Beautiful area!


jblyth


Awesome     2013-07-11 07:23:18
Great report and pictures, Matt. Let's catch over some hoppy beer soon.


mtnfiend


Matt - Those are not 14ers!     2013-07-11 08:56:37
Why don't you take your anti-elevationism sentiments to another web site, huh!? In all seriousness, it looks like you guys had a fun time in a beautiful area.


Mindy


Nice!     2013-07-11 14:35:34
Have to ask Dave.... what were the albums of choice?


Matt


Thanks for comments     2013-07-17 22:27:20
Darrin, you'll have to stop repeating 14ers to find a ”Matt Place,”
Kimo, thanks. The six photos on Brauer's website are enough to make someone want to head up there. I'd be game to go back for Big Agnes.
Scot: this is for you I was thinking of it as soon as I read your comment.
Blyth, we've been saying catch up soon for too long.
Richard: What are you doing these days?
Sunny, I will await reports of these low peaks...
Steph
, how's 4 Corners life? I hope you're making the most of it.
Hardtack: It's funny you mention Scotland. I watched one of the Highlander movies the night before I wrote this up.
Jeff, thanks for making July 4th weekend 2012 one for the record books. We did things right.


SurfNTurf


Wow!     2013-07-12 08:32:51
I was ”turned on” to the Mt. Zirkel area recently, and your TR makes me want to go even more. Great write-up. That's (at least) two awesome Fourth of July trips in a row for you. Keep the tradition going!


12ersRule


Pretty Noose     2013-07-29 12:29:11
by Soundgarden was on repeat loop all day for me, Mindy. Had some good tunes on the way to the TH though, lots of Streetlight Manifesto.


Monster5


Missed this one     2013-07-23 09:20:48
Fantastic pics and report! I've been meaning to check the area out. The Big Agnes > Zirkel scramble doesn't look half bad.


djkest


Wow     2014-04-10 08:44:29
Just saw this, great trip report. Thanks for posting. I was thinking about a similar trip.



   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.