| Not-So-Lost on Lost Man Loop
Geissler Mountain West (13,301') 391st highest
Geissler Mountain East (13,380') 333rd highest
PT 13001 (13,001') 637th highest
Upper Lost Man (11,500') off CO 82, just west of Independence Pass
Geissler Mountain West via East Ridge (1800' vertical) – Class 2+/3-
Traverse to Geissler Mountain East (560' vertical) – Class 2+/3-
Descent to Lost Man Pass, ascent of PT 13001 SE Ridge (500' vertical) – Class 2+/3-
Lost Man Lake trail back to trailhead (appx 400' re-climb)
Sorry, I didn't run the exact mileage, but its around 7 1/2 miles round trip
With my family coming in town, I was hoping for something short and close that would allow me to get home early afternoon and clean my house, do some laundry, that sort of thing. I decided the Independence Pass area would offer me just what I was looking for with high trailheads and easy paved road access. I had not yet climbed the Geisslers and thought they would offer me a great opportunity to stretch my day as far as the weather and time would allow.
I left the trailhead and started up the well maintained (and popular) Lost Man Loop trail from the 11,500' trailhead. The route is in view most of the early hike as you are staring right at the Geisslers. The first goal was to get to the saddle between the peaks. I kept my eye on the left side of the trail looking for the perfect spot to leave the trail and head across the meadow. I decided to leave right before a spot where the main trail took a turn to the right and got a little steeper. I crossed back to the north of the Roaring Fork River and across a boggy meadow to the steepening grass slopes that led to the saddle. There was some lingering snow at the saddle, but it had a gap to the left which I went through.
After a short break I started up the steep talus ridge of Geissler Mountain West. The ridge crest offers some easy scrambling, or you can stay to the right on talus to keep it more at class 2.
Near the top of the ridge it got a little loose, and I realized that this point was actually a false summit. The ridge flattened out and a narrow traverse led to the true summit. Some easy scrambling was required to gain the summit, I would call it class 2+, but with a little exposure maybe 3- is a better reflection of the difficulty.
The views were great, especially of the Elks and nearby Williams Mountain group.
I also had a great view of Grizzly and was surprised to see that the couloir is still completely filled in! Keep in mind, its August…
Zoom view of Pyramid and Bells
After my short summit break I headed back down the ridge, staying more on the class 2 terrain to reach the saddle. From here I began my ascent of Geissler Mountain East; the west ridge of this peak offers a variety of routes. I will again call this class 2+/3-, depending on your route finding you may have an occasional class 3 move scattered along the way.
There is more sustained scrambling if you stay closer to the ridge crest, which is what I did and found it to be fun and solid. The ridge eases up just before the summit.
The summit is a little larger and less exposed than the west summit and offers equally impressive views of the surrounding mountains. The weather was looking good and it was still early, so I decided to try and add a third peak to my day. I descended the east ridge, which is steep class 2, down to "Lost Man Pass".
The pass is the highpoint of the Lost Man Loop trail and I saw a few day hikers hanging out as I passed through. I decided to try and limit my elevation loss and traversed high across rugged talus blocks to get to the saddle between PT 13001 and the ridge of the Divide. This may have saved about 200' of elevation but probably saved nothing in time. I would say just drop down to Lost Man Lake, then a little farther down the trail and head up the grassy ramps to the saddle. That is how I descended and will describe it lower.
From the 12,500' saddle I traversed over some rough slabs, even had a 4th class step in there, to reach the base of the Southeast Ridge of PT 13001. From here the route was not obvious, but you can preview it from Geissler or the Lost Man Pass area. Here is an overview of PT 13001 from Geissler Mtn East:
As you can see, there are 2 major rocky steps on the ridge, these can be avoided on the left side on grassy ramps and gullies. The route finding was not too tricky, but if you stay close to the side of these rock steps there are occasional class 3 moves required to scramble along some of the big blocks. In keeping with the theme, I called this class 2+/3- as well.
The rock steps are really cool looking and give a much more rugged feel to this area than what is usually thought of for the Sawatch Range. Of course, this is the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness, and is the second most Rugged area of the Sawatch after Holy Cross Wilderness. While this route can be kept at Class 2, it definitely is not your typical Sawatch class 2 route!
After bypassing the upper rock step, I ascended a steep talus face back to the ridge crest. Approaching the tiny summit from this direction required a little class 3, although the NW side of the summit block is a little easier, but still a scramble. The views were once again rewarding. Officially this is Colorado's lower ranked 13er, but with the revised survey it is likely that at least 3 of the state's 12ers will be "promoted" and that title will no longer be held by this peak. Looking back at Lost Man Lake and Twining Peak.
I descended the way I came up back to the saddle, but from here decided to avoid my talus traverse and drop back to the main trail below the lake. There are several large blocks in this area, but there are several grassy ramps that weave their way through the blocks. It may take a little bit of poking around to find the way, but it can easily be kept at class 2. This a general view of the terrain for the trail looking towards the saddle.
From there I joined the trial and re-climbed past Lost Man Lake and over the pass. View of PT 13001 from Lost Man Lake
As I crossed over the pass, the clouds started to build towards the south and look really threatening, but it was only 11am. Lots of hikers were climbing up the trail, all of which I am pretty sure got really wet. When I reached the car at 11.45 it started to drizzle, and about 10 minutes later going back over Independence Pass the skies opened up and it was pouring. It was kind of funny to watch all of the tourists at the pass running back to their cars. I was glad I made it to the car when I did, perfect timing I guess you could say.
If you are looking for easy access and a short, fun outing, this is a perfect combination! If you have the time and energy additional peaks such as PT 13202 or Twining could even be added, a car shuttle at the pass or North Fork trailhead could also be added to increase the possibilities.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):