| Late Summer in the Gore Range Part1: Off Route
Distance: 22.6 mi
Elevation gained: 11820 ft
Labor Day holiday I worked; I stay out of the hills on holidays, too many people trying to shoot eah other. So where
to go in early September? The Gore Range I thought, lets do a few more thirteens. I hoped the late summer, early fall
would dry out, providing more hiking time. This summer season was trying, blocks of time to pack in and climb just not
consistent this year.
Piney River Trail Peak C
So I began my hike on a nice morning, packing up the Piney River trail, planning to camp in Kneeknocker Basin below
Mt. Powell. It has been over ten years since I hiked in this area; I thought I knew the way and various climbing guide
books decribe climbers trails as being more prominent.
West Partner 12692 Upper Piney River
I got lost, uh no, off route. I didn't find the trail leading up into KneeKnocker, so bushwacked in. I found the trail up
higher, definite and solid, while the clouds formed. I encountered a hunter, who also was surprised to meet anyone in
midweek. He also had not encountered a goat during his sojourn; he declared it was going to rain. Shortly after I found a
campsite at 10,800, set up while dry and was able to duck in just as it began to get wet. When it finished, I ate dinner
and settled in for the night.
Last Light Kneeknocker Pass Peak C
My plan was to climb Peaks G and F, to contour at 11000 over to the gully and couloirs that led between them. I mean,
why drop back down to the Piney River trail then back up again? Right.
11000 Foot Contour Level South
So up and out early, the way went fairly well, with ups and downs to avoid talus fields. I counted basins: this one goes
up to C and D, this one goes between E and F. I even found a trail at times: human, goat, elk, I didn't care, it went.
Turning the Corner 12060 Pt Across the Way
The day brightened, the sky clear, I felt great. I worked my way around a steeply sloped rock ledged shoulder, looked up
into a gully and said, "Eureka I found the way!" Well not really, but it seemed like a good idea to go up.
Not the Correct Gully, But It Went
Indeed the talus was stable and steep, I moved up quickly. I traversed to the right out of the gully onto slopes and continued
up until I got the view to the southeast. Uh oh, the ridge, aka Ripsaw, seemed to descend quite a bit: according to my fine-honed
wilderness skills it was supposed to rise up to Peak G on my right, Peak F on my left. I was los..., er off route. In situations such
as this all the "professors" (Roach, et al) say, "Go higher!".
I Realize This View Is All Wrong Peak Q West Partner
Is That Peak G?
Peak N Peak L Peak H Foreground
And so this is the way I climbed Peak H, 13 something. I had a straight shot view southeast to Peak Q, West Partner and The
Spider, with Peak L northeast. Therefore this was not Peak G or F. I headed to my left, assuming this would be the best option.
Going down, going home to stay in bed was not an option yet.
In due course I reached Black benchmark, 13129 ft, and took a picture.
Back On Route, Kind Of
The broken glass was reassuring, someone had to bring it up. I noticed the clouds were building, but looked friendly, and
I continued to run the ridge.
Finally Peak G Peak F To Left Mt Powell Background
When I reached Peak G, 13260 ft, the day was deteriorating. The ridge was not simple. Not technical, just not simple.
Summit Peak G "Upper Bubble Lake" 11900
Scattered areas of virga were beginning to show over the Holy Cross region--I took some pictures and descended to the
G- F saddle.
Virga, Soon to Be Rain Vail Ski Area
There I took a gully bypass to avoid some technical areas, then ascended to Peak F, 13240 ft, on now wet rock. Yes it
was barely raining.
Wet Summit Rocks on Peak F Peak G
Wet Summit Rocks on Peak F Mt Powell
Took a picture and started down. I finally ate something when I got into the descent gully: chances were good I was going to live.
I elected to descend all the way to the Piney River trail. I thought it would be less exhausting than tracing back over my
contour route. And by doing so I found out where I missed the route up into this gully. The way up between F and G is not at
all obvious because it makes an angled turn behind a cliff edge, not seen from below, clear from above. Why the hell is this not
in the books? I was getting tired. I angled and traversed through the wet trees to meet the trail. I got on my rain gear, not because
it was raining. but for the wet foliage. Now I remembered why I hate the Gores.
Not quite two miles later, I found the cairn indicating the climbers trial back up to Kneeknocker Basin. Following the route was easy.
There is one area near or over a talus field that is marked by cairns. otherwise up it goes. It got dark,and fifteen minutes later I walked
up to my camp. I got warm clothes on, cooked up some kind of crap, shoveled it in and went to bed. Warm, dry, safe and fed, life was
good. I can do Eagles Nest tomorrow and Peak C the next I thought, dropping off to sleep , interrupted only by vicious heartburn.
(Continues to Part 2)
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