| A Gimmie on CO‘s Highest 13er
Grizzly Pk A via n.e. face (13988')
Garfield Pk A (13780')
9.7 miles RT/3900' gain
From Grizzly Reservoir (10560')
Participants: Brian Kooienga & Kevin Baker
Slideshow courtesy of Brian Kooienga:
Most of my normal hiking partners were taking advantage of the long weekend on backpacking trips. I was looking to take advantage of the lingering snow with another quick couloir climb, and Grizzly has been high on my list as my highest remaining unclimbed ranked summit in CO. Brian was game for the north couloir, which Roach speaks highly of. I haven't hiked with Brian in over a year, so it was nice getting out with him again.
We met at the Twin Lakes visitor center off Hwy 82 and I drove my Nissan Maxima up to the TH near Grizzly Reservoir. My Maxima did fine up this road and I only scraped bottom once. You'll have to take your time on this with
2WD, but it's doable. We knew the approach was short and the snow would be well consolidated, so we didn't get started until 5:45am. The trail was dry all the way to 11K and there wasn't much water to deal with. The stream crossing at 11.2K was trivial compared to the raging Conundrum Creek that I had to deal with last weekend. After 1.5 hrs of pleasant hiking we were at the apron of what we thought was the north couloir.
We left the trail too early before reaching Grizzly Lake and ended up going up the wrong couloir, but it worked out.
View to Grizzly Lake and beyond to the north:
The day was quickly heating up and the snow down low was much softer than expected. The bottom half of the climb was very mellow and did not exceed 40 degrees until we reached ~13200'. I measured the last 1/3 of the couloir at a consistent 43-45 degrees and the snow firmed up as we climbed. The good thing about couloir climbs in July is generally you don't have to worry about the threat of wet slabs. Had this climb been in May, I would not have been on snow this wet.
About halfway up the couloir:
Brian did a great job leading most of the way kicking nice steps and angled right for the "Kooienga Direct" finish, which featured a short 10 ft section of steeper snow that maxed out at 52 degrees.
This was a nice, moderate climb of 1200' and we popped out not too far to climbers left of the couloir we intended to climb had we been paying attention more! We followed a decent trail south on scree to the summit, topping out 9:15. Wow, that was too easy! Surely the rest of the day wouldn't go that well.
We enjoyed the views on CO's highest 13er for about half an hour. Grizzly does not have the feel of a typical Sawatch range pile of talus. It felt more like its' rougher neighbors in the Elks. Too bad this once recognized 14er doesn't get the respect it deserves.
Brian is more of a route seeker than a list seeker, so he was a bit bummed when we figured out we went up the wrong couloir. He was game for heading over to bi-centennial Garfield. We found bits of a trail over to it as it contours on the west side of a bump along the way.
We ended up too low below Garfield and just picked our way up loose talus back to the ridge. It took us about an hour for this mellow traverse.
Grizzly from Garfield:
Instead of retracing our steps back to the saddle, we ran the ridge for a few hundred yards north, then scree surfed down the west slopes to a lingering snowfield that we were able to glissade/plunge step/boot ski all the way down to the grassy valley floor. Rarely does a shortcut like this work out so well! In no time, we were strolling down Lincoln Creek Rd heading back to the car. Thunder began to rumble reminding us that monsoon season is coming and we were back at the car at 12:45. I forget the last time I had a 7 hour day or less. There are few days in the mountains when you get a freebie like this!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):