| American Peak - Patriot Couloir, Pt. 13,832
Scott and I started our vacation by driving from Boulder to Lake City and up Cinnamon Pass for an attempt at American Peak the next day. Since we have a Subaru and weren't sure what the road was like after the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead, we decided to drive up a ways to check it out in the light. We made it a little ways into the lower American Basin TH and decided that we'd gone far enough and turned around to find a close campsite. Although we had done quite well up to this point, we bottomed out right after turning around and seriously bashed the under-side of the car. Scott took a look underneath and discovered that we'd put a large dent into the oil pan and pushed the exhaust up into the driveline. We worried that our trip might be over before it started and hoped that the dent wasn't constricting oil into the engine. Luckily, although our poor car was noisy, it was still running okay. We found a nice camping spot around 10,900 and while I set up the tent, Scott put the car up on some rocks for inspection.
The next morning, we hiked up the road from our camping spot up to American Basin (no need to test fate and try to drive back up.) Once at the creek crossing, we elected to contour around and find a snow bridge rather than jump across. We found a nice, steep one that got us across.
Scott on the Snow Bridge
Once at the top, Scott spotted something about 200 yards away and called me to take a look. It was a mountain lion and since we were downwind it hadn't seen us yet! We watched it for a couple minutes until it finally saw us and took off up a 30-foot cliff – I've never seen anything quite like it - they are such powerful animals.
We continued up American Basin on snow (looking back every once in a while) and made our way to our intended couloir – Patriot.
Patriot Couloir on American Peak (the one in the sun)
There was considerable avalanche debris in all of the couloirs from the recent snowfall in the area. The snow was nice for climbing although very mixed in conditions with all of the debris. Roach describes this couloir as the easiest of those on the north side of American; the angle was very moderate and was great for my first actual snow climb.
Scott in the lower half of the couloir
Me nearing the top
Once at the top of the couloir, we turned and climbed bare rock for a bit and then snow up to the summit.
Scott and Jen on the summit
The way down was uneventful and unfortunately we didn't get much in the way of good glissading; with all the debris, it was too choppy and a bit hard for a slide. Luckily, the snow stayed firm and there was minimal post-holing back to the creek crossing – no need for snowshoes.
Me on the way down Patriot
I really enjoyed this climb and felt very good on the snow, it was a good beginner snow route with a comfortable pitch and run-out. We headed back to camp and were there before noon – lots of time for lounging!
The next day we got up early and drove down to Silver Creek TH for a hike up Pt. 13,832 and possibly 13,811. The trail was nice and dry below tree-line and we only crossed a few patches before reaching the slope up to Redcloud's saddle. Here is a view of the Grizzly Gulch route on Handies from Silver Creek:
After gaining the saddle, we turned and made our way along the ridge. The other side was much less windy although trickier to climb than I had thought. We had to decide between climbing thin, hard snow or fairly steep, muddy scree. We chose snow on the way there and then found ourselves in the other on the return trip. This section took a lot longer than I had thought.
View of Pt. 13,832 (furthest peak) from the point where we crossed over to the other side of the ridge.
Once on top of Pt. 13,832, we decided to call it a day and leave Pt. 13,811 for another time (and a different trail). View of Pt. 13,811 from the summit:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):