| Keller Mountain, No Piece of Cake
Keller Mountain was a long time coming, 21 years to be exact. Saw it long ago from a foray up Pitkin Creek from the Vail Valley to get Peak X. I was planning to get at least North Traverse, but leaving your glacier glasses behind kinda screwed that for me. The trail to the mine was very smooth, Highline Canal smooth. I made my 1st mistake at the mine, by taking the wrong trail. When you get to the mine, a pile of rocks blocks the path, take that right turn, it will save you some hard bushwacking. Eventually, I found that trail, but not before I was thinking this was going to be a long day if something didn't start going right. When I got to a large talus field, I turned it up the slopes and contoured over to the small ridge heading to the main east ridge.
The 1st time I saw the Grand Traverse
SE slopes of Keller
As you can see it is a nice looking climb up, hit that crack left of center. It was good climbing on solid rock, mostly class 4. One part had me topping out through a spruce tree, a little annoying but I made the best of it.
Starting things off right
I bypassed a sub-point on the East ridge and got into some minor trouble, but reclimbed a little to get around a cliff. There is no jumping down in the Gores! I saw Keller for the 1st time here, but wasn't sure if that was the summit, doesn't look like a summit to me!
Summit of Keller
I wasn't making that great of time up the ridge, just slowly making my way up, there is just so much to stare at! Quite a few times, I was walking through heavy spruce ground cover on the ridge. A point where the ridge turns north has a nice overlook of the basin below Keller.
Looking back on the ridge climbed
You can see how the North faces have a lot of snow, while the southside looks bare. It was nice for Keller, but not good for a north slope approach. The western exposures looked melted out as well.
East Thorn, Mt Silverthorne
Once I got on top, the rest of the Gores came into view. Such a rugged range!
Main Range with Pk C and Powell
It was getting late, so I needed a quick way down. Going back the way I came took to long. Looking down the slope was all I needed to do to make a quick decision, and away I went.
The Great Escape
Looks like somebody forgot their LNT tactics, look at the size of the footprint!!
Took about 30 minutes from the summit to this point. You talk about ease your mind, I didn't want to walk out in the dark and I didn't know exactly where the trail was beyond the talus field. After about 15 minutes in the forest, I walk by a few cairns before doing a double take. Oh yeah, there it is and happily started down the faint, but thankfully good trail. It didn't take long for me to lose it though, so consequently, I went through the thickest crap I have ever had the privilege of crashing through. It was so thick, I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of me. My shins got all bruised up, sticks, leaves in my clothes, beard. I almost kissed the ground when I got to some open space and rejoined the trail at the bottom of the talus field.
Looking back up the descent
The trail did lead back into the Boss Mine thankfully. A couple of switchbacks later and I am laughing at myself as I look at that fateful mistake.
It was good to get back on the Highline Canal trail again and made it back to the car way before dark. I was able to drive my car all the way to the Rock Creek TH. Not perfectly smooth road, but you should be able to get around all obstacles you encounter. It was a fitting end to a great fall day!
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