| Ridgeway/ Whitehouse/ 13,100 C (aka Corbett Peak) Traverse
Whitehouse to Peak 13,100' (aka "Corbett Peak") to Whitehouse to Mt. Ridgeway
I have only had two short easy tundra hikes to 13ers that I'd visited before since my surgery to repair a torn Rotator Cuff and Labrum 10 weeks ago. The doctor say 3 more months before any technical rock climbing, but it was time to do some tougher general mountaineering.
On July 2, I drove to Ouray and up the 2wd portion of the Mt Sneffels road to the Weehawken Creek trailhead. There is one campground before you reach the trailhead and one right after. At 6am July 3, I started up the Weehawken trail which goes abut 1.6 miles to a trail junction. Bear left here at a sign and right at the next signed junction ˝ mile later. Another 1.6 miles later the creek turns to take a westerly then WSW bearing, then trail begins to peter out and maintenance officially ends at a sign one mile later, 4.7 miles from the trailhead. This is further than either the topo or some of the conflicting signage indicates.
Shortly before the trail officially ends, it gets difficult to follow as it moves in and out of the dry perimeter of the creek bed and then crosses the rocky runout of an obvious avalanche path. An intermittent creek appears here on the topo, intersecting Weehawken creek at 10,820'. At this point, I opted to climb NE up the steep gully of this creek leading to easier terrain at 12,000'. I'm now almost due south of Whitehouse's 13,470' southwestern sub-peak. This gully is similar in difficulty to the upper couloirs of Crestone Needle. It would be fun as a snow climb earlier in the summer.
As I learned later, this route was only a little harder than it would have been to bushwhack further up Weehawken Creek to the base of Teakettle before traversing back NW across several ridges to reach the same area, albeit 400' higher. I used this second option on my descent. From here I took a WNW then W bearing to the upper basin between Whitehouse and Ridgeway at 12,500'. Here, I made a decision, which I now consider to be a mistake, to climb Whitehouse first.
From 12,500', I climbed simple scree to the 12,900' saddle between point 13,150' and point 13,470'. At this point, traverse a little north to the first gully left of the ridge. The scree filled gully goes well, but don't expect any cairns to give you confidence about the route. At the top of the gully, bear NE for a final push to point 13,470'. The ridge walk to Whitehouse's true 13,492' summit is very easy.
From here I headed to Peak 13,100', NE of Whitehouse. I downclimbed the east (not NE) ridge staying on the left (north) side of the ridge as I got lower. This was quite a hard downclimb but MUCH easier than the west ridge would have required several rappels. The route finding was so difficult and intricate that I could not write a description which anyone could follow. There were narrow gullies, including an ice-filled one which required putting on my crampons for the only time all day just for 50' of descent. I now know there was an easier route; more on that later. I reached the 12,600' level just south of the Whitehouse- Peak 13,100' saddle. A traverse to the SE ridge across scree went fine, then it's a 500' climb to the summit. The true summit is the northern one.
Now I wish I had climbed Ridgeway first. If I had I would have descended Oak Creek directly into Ouray and hitch-hiked the 5 miles back to my car. Now I'd have to re-climb Whitehouse in order to bag all three today. Reading the register, I could see Oak Creek was the most popular route, combining Peak 13,100' and Whitehouse and leaving Ridgeway for another day. I'll recommend that as an option at the end of this report. Glaringly absent from the register was any mention of the difficulties of the ridge from Whitehouse. Normally, I would expect something like this in a register signed so rarely (about 20 people in the last 15 years). In these old registers placed by Mike Garret people usually write a little more. This meant there was probably a simpler route which didn't deserve much hooplah. Besides, I didn't think I could re-create my descent route.
I decided on a strategy to drop to 12,400' before traversing south around Whitehouse's east ridge and climb toward the saddle between Whitehouse and its 13,470' sub-peak. Although there is one cliff-band to negotiate (the solution was a snow-filled couloir on the Peak 13,470' foot side of the gully), this was a very easy way to get between the peaks and is definitely my recommendation no matter which peak is climbed first. After topping out again on Whitehouse's Point 13,470', I retraced my route to the 12,900' saddle between Point 13,470' and Point 13,150'.
Whether going from Whitehouse to Ridgeway or visa-versa, I recommend dropping to the 12,700' level passing south of point 13,150. I did not see a clear route to go over the top of point 13,150'. After bypassing 13,150' on the south, I climbed scree and soft snow to the 13,000' saddle between point 13,150' and Ridgeway. It is an easy scramble to the top of Ridgeway.
To descend, I returned to this saddle and down the couloir to the 12,400' level. A long descending traverse NW across two ridges, much of it on excellent game trail, brings you to the far upper reaches of Weehawken Creek. You are directly north of the Teakettle-
Potosi saddle. From here it is a rough bushwhack down the north side of the creek one mile back to the developed portion of the Weehawken creek trail. It is almost 5 miles from here back to the trailhead.
The whole day was 17 miles and 7300'. There are several things which you could do to shorten the day. The most obvious is to do Ridgeway via Weehawken Creek one day and Whitehouse and 13,100' via Oak Creek another day. For Ridgeway alone, follow Weehawken Creek until the trail dies, then bushwhack another mile till you break timberline just north, but far underneath, the Teakettle-Potosi ridge. Turn back NE one mile across two ridges to the upper reaches of the basin below the Ridgeway-Whitehouse saddle. Head up to the ridge by aiming west of point 13,150', then climb on to Ridgeway's summit.
The next day climb Peak 13,100' and Whitehouse via Oak Creek. Climb Whitehouse first by climbing to the saddle between point 13,470' and the true summit. Descend the same way and catch Peak 13,100' on the way back by using a 12,400' traverse around Whitehouse's east ridge. Descend Oak Creek.
A fun option would be to stash a second car in Ouray and climb Ridgeway via Weehawken Creek. Begin a traverse to Whitehouse, remembering to drop 300'south around point 13, 150'. After summiting Whitehouse, return to the point 13,470'-Whitehouse saddle and descend into the upper reaches of Oak Creek favoring the point 13,470' side of the gully. At 12,400' traverse around Whitehouse's east ridge and use the SE ridge of 13,100' to summit. Descend Oak Creek to your stashed car.