| Serious Elk Bushwhack and others
Day 1, August 3rd. Teocalli 13,208 ~4.6 Miles, 2700 Gain.
I had the first six days off of the month and I figured I wanted to try climb at least something away from Denver. I chose a few peaks in the Elk's especially since I haven't been focusing my 13eener climbing binge in the Elk's at all. After warming up on Paiute on the 1st, and a day off doing stuff around the house, I drove down to Crested Butte and drove up the mild West Brush Creek 4x4 road. I made it to the Teocalli trailhead, and wish I didn't. The last 1/4 mile of the West Brush Creek road was a serious bushwhack through willows for my Pathfinder and now I have to buffer out some serious scratches out. I can't recommend that last 1/4 mile.
Clouds appeared to be building, but I figured I would still take my chances on this mellow climb/day. I followed the Teocalli trail to the saddle and headed north on a climbers trail. As soon as I started up the grassy ridge, the trail faded out. When I arrived on the summit, there were three other people enjoying the summit with some brain enhancing inhalants. It was nice of them to offer but I headed down quickly to avoided impending weather.
Once I arrived back at the car, I set up the tent, ate some beef stew, read, and went to bed early.
Day 2, August 4th. Pt. 13,162, Pt. 13,537, Pt. 13215 and Triangle Peak ~15 Miles, 6000 Gain.
Since I didn't know what to expect regarding a trail up West Brush Creek Basin, I decided to get an early start. I set my alarm for 3:45AM, which, as always, came too soon. I took my tent down and ate a bagel and started up the trail just before 4AM. My dull headlamp lit the way as I followed the trail through high grass with no moonlight. After a ~1/2 mile of hiking the trail ended in sea of willows. At this point, I figured I would climb to a higher elevation on Teocalli's west slopes hoping to find grassy areas to avoid these willows. It worked for a bit and then the serious bushwhacking began. I began thrashing my way through willows twice the size of me and was seriously questioning if this was a good way to approach these peaks. I debated on bailing on these peaks to climb White Rock Mountain and White BM instead. They would have been a much shorter approach. Fortunately, the willows eased for a while and I could gain some milage into the basin.
As I continued to thrash along the dark, I heard something move in the distance. I had a sick feeling as my headlamp gazed into the dark only to find a set of eyes staring at me. I couldn't make out what animal was. A bear? A goat? A deer? I let out a yelp, and "it" ran away.
Nevertheless, as I hiked further into the basin, I couldn't win. It was either willows, talus or crawling through downed timber. Daylight finally started appearing as I reached 11,800, and could see my first goal; Pt. 13,162. Climbing the west ridge of Pt. 13,162 did not seem like a good option alone, if an option at all, so I climbed up the basin to the south saddle of Pt. 13,162 and Pt. 12,934. The south ridge of 13,162 didn't look good either. I continued by climbing down a bit into the basin towards Twin Lakes and then climbed the saddle to 13,162 and 13,550. The summit ridge from here was an easy scramble to the top.
After a short break on the summit of 13,162 I hiked back to the saddle of 13,162 and 13,550 and hiked north into Conundrum Basin. I tried to avoid losing as much elevation as possible and skirted west around the southern end of Conundrum Basin at 12,500. My next goal was to traverse to the saddle of 13,216 and 13,537. The traverse up to the saddle was the usual steep grass slope.
The initial climb up the south ridge of 13,537 was fairly easy until I reached the summit massive. I bypassed the ridges difficulties by skirting around the east side of the summit massive and climbed some class 3-4 ledges on the peak's broken east face to reach the summit. The views were excellent from this summit. The descent seemed a bit more sketchy than the climb up. I used caution.
Now the difficulties were behind me and the hike south along the north ridge of 13,216 was fun and uneventful. When I arrived at the summit of 13,216, I could see clouds building to the west so I hurried to Triangle Pass and then continued to the summit of "Triangle Peak". I descended the east ridge of Triangle Peak back into West Brush Creek's basin. I was so excited to get back to bushwhacking! Believe me, you have no idea. Several hours later I arrived back at my car at 2:45, I really wondered how I did so well bushwhacking up that basin in the dark.
Next time I think I will take the much longer Conundrum Basin approach and camp in the basin and enjoy the hot springs instead of enjoying willows.
Day 3, August 5th. Emma Burr, Pt 13345, Pt 13050, Pt 12,900 ~10 miles, 3,900 gain.
My plan for day three was to do White Rock Mountain and White BM, but I didn't really want to fight willows in that basin again without a "willow break", so I headed toward home and decided to climb the 13eeners in the Emma Burr group. I slept at 11,800 on the 4x4 road in Mineral Basin and slept in 'til 5:45 AM. I hiked up the East Ridge of Emma Burr, continued south along the ridge to Pt 13,345 and 13,050. I descended into Morgan's Gulch, re-climbed the Emma Burr-12,900 saddle, and hiked to the summit of 12,900 on the way back to the car. My orginial plan for this group was to tack on Kreutzer, but when I arrived at my car it began to rain and I could hear thunder. The peak isn't going anywhere, so I drove home.
Pt 13,162 early morning
Summit Ridge to 13,162.
Summit of 13,162
Traversing to the Pt 13,216-13,537 Saddle.
Summit Massive of Pt. 13,537
The broken ledges of 13,537's East Face
Pt 13,162 and Teocalli from 13,537's summit.
Traverse to Pt 13,216
13,537 from 13,216
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):