Buying Gear?  Click Here
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  Pacific Pk  -  13,950 feet
Atlantic Pk  -  13,841 feet
 Post Date:  09/03/2008
 Date Climbed:   08/30/2008
 Posted By:  stevevets689

 From Sea to Shining Sea - The West Ridges   

Peaks: Pacific and Atlantic
Routes: Pacific's West Ridge (Class 3), Traverse to Atlantic, Atlantic West Ridge Descent
RT Distance: 6.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3,430 Feet
Participants: stevevets689


Image

A school policy of mine: three day weekends are not to be taken lightly. Every three day weekend must be seen as an opportunity to go to something fun and preferably lengthy so as to make use of the extra time off. My original plan for Labor Day weekend was to meet up with a friend and climb Mount Meeker, but in the end my friend couldn't make it and I was on my own. I didn't feel like making a climb as long as Meeker by myself, so since I needed to go to Denver anyway I started looking at what mountains wouldn't be far out of my way. That's when I remembered looking over at Pacific Peak from Jacques Peak last November. I recalled how sharp and impressive the peak looked, and knew it had a class 3 ridge. Ok that sounds like fun. Hmm, looking in Gerry Roach's book, I find that Atlantic Peak is only a ridge away, and that gives me the option of returning to the trailhead without downclimbing Pacific's West Ridge. It will be a traverse between oceans! Sounds like a plan.

Image
Pacific and Atlantic Peaks seen from the west on Jacques Peak last November

Friday evening I left Gunnison and drove up over Fremont Pass to the Mayflower Gulch trailhead. I was going to park in the parking lot right off the highway to car camp, but once I got there I realized how ridiculous it would be to camp so close to the road and try to sleep. Well the 4wd road doesn't look too nasty at first, let's see how far I can drive up. Oh a full 200 yards to a pull-off? Good enough. I parked and looked around a little, then set up the back of my Volvo for the night. I read a chapter for my Recreation Leadership class and went to sleep.

I woke up a lot that night, as the temperatures plummeted. Why didn't I bring my 0 degree bag? Oh well. It also didn't help that in the early morning a lot of other cars started to show up. I was surprised and slightly annoyed by the disturbance as at least five cars and three ATVs came up before my alarm went off at 5:45 AM. Still tired, I pulled my hiking clothes on and immediately started to shiver. Heck with a relaxed breakfast, I'm going to get moving! I got my pack out of the car, grabbed a granola bar, locked the car, and started hiking up the road while eating the bar. It only took five minutes to stop shivering.

The relatively flat road went pretty quickly and before I knew it I was looking across to my left at Pacific Creek running down a gulch into the main creek. That was the end of the well-maintained portion of the morning. I left the road and went about tackling the small forest of willows surrounding Mayflower Creek. After finally overcoming that obstacle, I started following Pacific Creek's left side up into the gulch. I left the trees and Pacific Peak came into view. Continuing a ways further, I noticed there is a bit of a trail on the other side of the creek, so I followed it for a ways until it starts to turn right, towards Atlantic Peak. I left the creek and continued towards Pacific.

Image
The sun's first light hitting the high peaks

Image
At the base of Pacific's West Ridge

Image
The initial terrain of the ridge

The terrain remained gentle and rolling all the way to the base of Pacific's West Ridge, but from there it would be more of a climb than a hike. Starting up the ridge, I noticed that it got steeper very quickly. It started out with some scampering up through talus and boulders, and on this terrain I approached the first of many impressive looking towers on the ridge. This first one looked pretty crazy so I decided to go around it; loose won out over hard this time.

Image
Looking down after getting around the first tower

Image
Looking up the next tower

After the first tower, I could see that the nature of the rest of the ridge would be figuring out how to get over and around a bunch of towers. I continued up. The next tower wasn't as hard and the real class 3 climbing started there. Some of the rock was a little loose but most of it pretty solid. Most of the way to the summit would be like that; negotiate a tower then hike to the next one. Some were easier than others, some narrow and more challenging. I did end up making one class 4 downclimbing move off one tower and that was the hardest things got.

Image
Crossing a very narrow stretch of ridge about 15 feet long and maybe two feet wide

Image
Where I made my only class 4 move, needing to lower myself off the top of the tower to the ledge on the left

Image
Ridge madness!

Image
Looking down at the ridge from near the summit

At last the towers gave way to a seemingly final talus slope. Marching up to what I thought was the summit, I proudly stepped to the top only to see… oh yeah, the notch, and the North Couloir route. I stepped into the notch and peered down the North Couloir. In spring, this is a snow route which reaches 65 degrees of pitch and sometimes leaves class 5.5 rock exposed. Well, maybe someday I'll go after routes like that, but for now I'm just going to keep to my scrambling. The summit waits.

Image
Crystal Peak from the summit

Image
Ah, the Gore Range

Image
Quandary and the Lincoln group

If Lewis and Clark knew that it only took a little over three hours to reach the Pacific, they wouldn't have bothered with the Missouri River! There I stood on top of Pacific Peak, only 50 feet shy of 14,000 feet, on a Saturday, with no one around. I sat and enjoyed my solitude for a while, glad I wasn't on Quandary Peak where it looked like someone was throwing a party. I took some pictures of the surroundings and then went to take a picture down the North Face… then changed my mind about ten feet away. I'm not going any closer than that! Alright alright, I have another ocean to get to.

Image
Pacific Tarn

Image
Atlantic Peak along the traverse

Walking along the ridge between these two peaks seemed like crossing the Great American Desert. It was just a bunch of talus the whole way, although Pacific Tarn is pretty cool, I had never seen a lake that high up before. At any rate, it took a little over an hour to reach the top of Atlantic, meeting my first person of the day on his way to Pacific. Thinking that was all I was going to see, I was very surprised to find not one, not two, but SEVEN people topping out on Atlantic Peak at the same time as me! It was a group of CMC'ers who had finished the Fourteeners and were climbing some 13ers instead. We chatted for a while and they headed off to Pacific. Well, some clouds are thinking of building up, time for me to go down.

Image
Pacific Peak from Atlantic's summit

Image
Looking down Atlantic's West Ridge

Image
Pacific from the descent, with the West Ridge in profile on the left

The ridge seemed kind of long and tedious in comparison to the ascent route, but it's relatively solid. I passed a couple more people on their way up and noted a person on the top of Pacific from time to time. What a busy day in the mountains! Arriving at a spot on the lower ridge where it broadened and flattened out, I turned right and dropped back into the basin between Pacific and Atlantic, rejoining with my ascent route. I continued back down to Mayflower Creek, whacked my way through the willows again, and rejoined the road for the walk back to my car.

Image
Pacific Peak framed by Pacific Creek drainage

In one day, I had gone from Pacific to Atlantic, from Sea to Shining Sea so to speak. Pacific and Atlantic were also my 20th and 21st of Colorado's 100 highest summits, respectively. Does that make me legal?

To see more pictures from this climb, please visit my online photo album at http://picasaweb.google.com/coloradoclimberguy/



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Rockymtnhigh69


Nice!     2008-09-04 08:20:51
Look like a great day Steve.. Love the pics.. Especially the Gores.


Jon Frohlich


Awesome     2008-09-04 09:37:50
I love those two mountains. Especially Pacific. 7 people is definitely a crowd on those peaks. If 21 makes you legal then I‘m freakin‘ elderly at this point. Maybe that‘s why my knees hurt a lot....


highcountryhiker

Nice TR & Pics     2011-09-03 08:48:22
Enjoyed chatting with you on Atlantic‘s west ridge. As we discussed, on a long holiday weekend, it was a great day to climb on the 13ers and avoid the crowds on the 14ers. Hope you have good weather for your planned trip to climb Half Peak.



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.