| Three Quarters
Itinerary: Cataract Gulch TH (9600') to Half Pk (13841') via E slopes; traverse to "Quarter Pk" (13674'); descend Quarter's E slopes back to TH
Party: scotthsu (Scott) and Nice Axe (Amy)
Stats: ~11 miles RT, ~5200' climbed, 9 hours car-to-car
Difficulty: class 1 trail approach, lots of class 2 talus and steep grass, and a short section of class 3 on the upper E slope of Half Pk
It was good to be back in the Lake City area for the first time in over 14 months. We were targeting some long but technically easy days. Some of our objectives involving rope-work (e.g., Snowmass-Hagerman traverse, Ellingwood Ledges on the Needle) are now on hold since Amy is 5+ months pregnant (http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=533836) and her belly is gaining an identity of its own (read: forget about the climbing harness). We drove up from Los Alamos, NM and slept in the back of the car at the Cataract Gulch TH parking area.
We started hiking around 6:20am, just bright enough to see w/o headlamps. We met another hiker starting out about the same time; he was headed for PT 13164 for what sounded like a pleasant long hike. The trail is in good shape and easy to follow. It climbs relentlessly through many switchbacks and heads past several small waterfalls over the first 1.5 miles.
Looking back down Cataract Gulch toward Sunshine Pk (14001'):
On the way up, I was paying attention to the east slopes below "Quarter Pk," not knowing whether a direct descent down it would be a willow-fest. I was glad to see that there were nice grassy slopes all the way back down to the trail, and from that moment I decided we should try for both peaks.
The other hiker caught up to us around tree-line and we hiked together for awhile, enjoying a nice chat, until we left the trail near a small lake around 12080'. We headed NW up grassy slopes toward Half Pk:
We aimed for the ridge slightly SW of the 12940' saddle between Half and "Quarter" Peaks and then followed the class 2 ridge toward the summit:
We reached a notch and then traversed south across one loose gully in order to reach another gully that would lead us up to the summit plateau:
There were cairns here and there and some class 3 moves. There is loose rock in this gully; a helmet is recommended! Soon we were on the summit plateau and walked west toward the high point. The sheer ~800' drop-off to the north is dizzying. We reached the summit around 10:20am, making for a 4 hour ascent.
View to the north with "Quarter Peak" (13674') in the center-foreground:
Spectacular view of the Weminuche Wilderness to the south:
Amy descending the class 3 section just below the summit plateau:
We headed for the 12940' saddle. Here, Garratt & Martin's route description suggests climbing up ~400' and then descending 400' NE. I don't think that's necessary, as we just contoured NE at the ~12900' level the whole way, first on nice rolling grass:
Then we continued on tedious talus, staying just below cliff bands which we skirted to the east:
More talus to cross with "Quarter Pk" (high point in photo). We headed for the ridge just to the right (north) of the steep step:
It was loose class 2+ to the ridge and more very loose, very steep class 2+ to the summit (initially staying to the west of the northern false summit). We reached the summit around 12:40pm, about 2 hours and 15 minutes after leaving Half Pk. Summit shot w/Half Pk in the background:
Looking down Square Gulch and the Cuba Gulch road:
We enjoyed a snack and the fabulous views for about 30 minutes and then headed down. We headed north along the ridge toward the highest patch of grass and then descended easy grassy slopes, heading SE. View up the grassy slopes with "Quarter Pk" center-left:
We aimed for the trail at around 11500' where it meanders through a talus field (just north of a stream crossing). We picked up the trail with zero willow-whacking required! It was a fast hike back to the car, and we could enjoy the waterfalls in daylight:
We reached the car around 3:20pm, making for a 9 hour day. If you are fit and efficient, the Half and "Quarter" combo, the way we did it, is highly recommended. There's no need to retrace your steps back to the 12940' saddle as Garratt & Martin suggest.
Despite the TR title, this was a pretty full day
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):