| Tenmile Scrambles
Looking to make the most of my 5-day weekend, I decided to get in some solitude in the tenmile range. I was armed with Cooper's Colorado Scrambles guide, and had my sights set on Pacific's east ridge and Father Dyer's east ridge. I arrived at the North McCoullough Gulch trailhead at around 9:00. The road is pretty mellow, and most passenger cars could easily make it. I got my stuff ready for the next day and fell asleep in my spacious honda civic.
I woke up just before my 5:15 alarm, and was on my way by 5:30. The initial hike up to the ridge is a definite bushwack. First, you must stomp up through some steep trees, then up onto the more defined ridge just above treeline. Just as I emerged from the trees, I saw a herd of deer about 1/4 mile away. They just sat there and watched me walk by for about 15 minutes, then decided I got too close and ran over the ridge. I had never seen deer this high up before.
After reaching the ridge, I took a break to enjoy the sunrise and the views of Quandary's north side. The Inwood Arete looks like a pretty sweet route.
A little ways up the ridge, I finally could see some scrambling and Pacific's summit.
The ridge-top was the way to go for the most fun. Roach describes a route that stays below the ridge crest on the south side, but I decided to follow Cooper's description and stay on the ridge proper. It was a blast. Lots of easy class three with some moderate exposure on the north side. About 2/3 of the way across the ridge, I got to cross a pretty fun knife-edge ridge. The north side was a vertical drop, and the south side was a bit exposed as well. Pretty exciting perch.
After the knife-edge, there was a little more scrambling before the ridge became less defined. I talus-hopped along the north side to Pacific's Summit pyramid. I stuck to the north side and enjoyed the view over the surprising north face. I arrived at the summit at about 8:30, about 3 hours from leaving the car. The weather looked great, so I decided to head over to Atlantic Peak. (My camera was running low on batteries so I could only take a few photos)
The traverse was pretty mellow. I had to lose only about 500 feet, and took my time over to Atlantic. There was some snow just below the ridge on the east side, but it was easily avoided. I summited atlantic at 9:15 and enjoyed the views.
I marveled at the masses on Quandary, and began my descent. I decided to drop down into McCoullough gulch instead of reversing my ridge ascent, to be sure I avoided the building storms. (Two weeks prior, my brother and I had gotten stuck in a nasty thunderstorm that formed quite quickly on Yale‘s East ridge.) I had the pleasure of a couple glissades. The snowfield up to the Atlantic-Pacific saddle had a lot of snow, and will probably be filled through July.
Atlantic on the left with Pacific out of view on the right. The snowfield on the right provided me with a ~500 ft. glissade.
After dropping into the valley, I couldn't find the McCullough Trail. There is a small rib running along the valley, and it appeared from the map that the trail just south of the ridge. I decided I didn't want to gain the measly ~50 ft. of vertical to cross the rib, so I stayed on the north side. It looked like I could rejoin the trail just above a lake at about 11800'. When I got to this point, however, I was confronted with some nasty downclimbing. Luckily the rock was solid, and I traversed a little to keep the difficulty at hard 4th class.
After this downclimb, I joined the trail. It was shortly after that I encountered the first people of the day. I was sure surprised to pass about 50 people on the way down after being completely alone above treeline. I made it back to the McCullough trailhead and hitchhiked back to my ride at North McCullough. I drove off at about 12:30, and was almost immediately greeted by rain.
After some snacks in breckenridge, I drove to the spruce creek trailhead. The afternoon was rainy, and I spent it happily reading and relaxing in my Civic.
Some recon. warned that the storms would be moving in early today, so I woke up at 4:30 for a nice easy scramble up Father Dyer. The hike up to Crystal lakes went smoothly, and I made it to the lower lake just after sunrise. Again, I followed Cooper's description and found myself enjoying class 2+ ridge running up Father Dyer. In my opinion, there were maybe 2 or 3 sections that required any class 3 scrambling. The exposure was pretty limited, and I felt like this would be a good first scramble for someone looking to avoid the crowds. I made it to the top of Father Dyer by about 7:30. The view back down the ridge was quite nice.
The walk over to Crystal's summit was straightforward class 2. I was on top by 8:00, once again all alone. The views of the Tenmile, Mosquito, and Gore ranges were phenomenal. The weather was fantastic, and I enjoyed the top of this centennial for about an hour. I started getting excited for my upcoming glissade, so I threw on my rain gear and walked down to the slide. The snow was soft, but steep enough to allow me to pick up some speed. It was a fantastic ~800 ft. glissade.
Crystal Summit with my glissade snowfield.
I ambled back down the jeep road to my car, passing a few people along the way. I arrived back at the car at about 11:00 after a quite enjoyable day.
These peaks were a lot of fun, but I wouldn't recommend them unless you enjoy solitude, great views, fun moderate scrambles, and a truly fantastic experience. What a treat!
I posted some more photos here: