| Upper Slate and Peak L
It was finally time to really explore the Gore range. After climbing Mt. Powell last year, and looking deep into the range, the seed for a "real" trip was planted. Our group of 5 packed in for 3 nights to Upper Slate lake with the intent to catch some fish, climb Peak L (2 of us) and relax in a beautiful place. Mission accomplished on all fronts. Let's just say the work to get to this place is absolutely worth it - I will be back for sure.
My climbing partner and I found some variations to the "standard" route published online for Peak L which I thought may be useful to some, so here we go (captions above)...
Just past the turnoff for the slate lake trail, starting the grunt work to upper slate - Peak L towers above
Reflection of Peak Q from the rock outside our campspot on the first morning
30 minutes of work off of "pride rock". Did I mention the fishing was good?
We left camp saturday morning around 5:30 and followed the faint trail around the south end of the lake to gain access to the slopes west of peak L. This trail is tough to follow and full off marsh and willows. I wore gaiters which were well worth it.
Sunrise in the morning
Ascending some "class 4" grass. Seriously, I didn't know grass could be this steep...
Taking a break with Q and R behind
The gully we took to the saddle on the right. This was before the low grassy point in the ridge
View from the saddle looking back
First look at the ridge on Peak L
Soon you are blessed with this view...
The knife edge is very exposed, lacks good footholds, but is absolutely solid. There is a 20 ft or so stretch of nerve racking exposure, but overall a very manageble obstacle. My partner, however, is averse to knife edges. We found this out together on Kelso a few years ago after he almost s*** himself as he approached the white rock. A very skilled scrambler, great routefinding skills, but can't do knife edges. He was prepared to wait below, knowing this moment in the hike was coming, but decided to try and find a way around. As soon as I popped over the knife edge, I looked down, and he was climbing up waiting at the saddle. I showed the approximate routes we took on a picture below, but the knife edge section is avoidable for anyone seeking to do so.
The final summit pitch
Climbing up the final pitch. Solid rock, great holds, decent exposure, but overall just FUN. Can you spot the climber?
Downclimbing the summit tower, can you spot the climber?
Instead of decending the standard route back down, we decided to take the direct gully down to upper slate. Roach rates this as stiff class 3, which I would agree with, although we did find several class 4 moves on the way down. I would say this gully was more technical than the summit tower on L and loose in sections. Still an enjoyable route down and a fun variation from the "class 4" grass we came up.
Here is our approx. route up and down. Red is my route up, blue shows my partners variation to skip the knife edge, and black is our decent.
Peak L from Upper Slate
Peak L has a spectacular summit perch, in a flawless basin, and so close to Denver. I can't recommend this enough (although I think some Gore enthusiasts will resent me making it sound appealing ) Maybe I should end on all of the tedious and terrible bushwacking that you have to do. It actually made the whole trip not worth it.......
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):