| Southern Gores - Gore Lake to Snow Pk, Willow Pk, and East Thorne
With the crowds of Labor Day looming, I wanted to find an inspiring place to explore, that was somewhat near home (Boulder), and wouldn't see too many people over the weekend - the southern Gores proved to be the perfect choice!
My hiking partner (Gaby) and I got a late start on Friday at the Gore Creek Trailhead at 6:30pm and headed up with a goal of Gore Lake, but we wound up pitching the tent, at 9:30, along the creek, near the fork to Gore Lake.
The next morning we broke down camp and headed up to Gore Lake, where we arrived in another 1.5 hrs. The hike up is steady uphill, but not too taxing. We set up camp quickly and then started out at 11:30am (late!) on a day hike to hit Snow Peak and some other unnammed 12'ers along the ridge west of the Lake. Our line headed NW from the Lake and straight up to the saddle underneath a pair of melting cornices. Reaching the saddle, we skipped out to Peak 12,490, hitting three high points along the ridge , and gaining beautiful views of Gore Lake, Vail Valley, Red Peak, Hail, and Willow. We then backtracked to the saddle and headed up Snow Peak. My faithful companion, Levi,was along for our hike and we wound up leaving him at a small saddle high up the Snow Peak climb. He is a good Class III scrambler, but when the scree gets loose and tenuous, he is not a fan!! We summitted Snow Peak at 2:37pm and returned to camp by 4:20.
Sunday was slated to be our 'big' dayhike day, with a hike out in the evening, so we took off at 8:30am and headed across the Gore valley in the direction of Zodiac View (12,505ft). WOW what a view once you get there! A nice class III ridge scramble - it's a remarkable ridge with some 'walk the plank' moves that get the heart pumping. Very fun stuff and provides amazing views of Snow Peak and Lake, all accompanying ridges, and of course, Zodiac Ridge - leading to Red Peak.
From Zodiac, we looked northeast and worked our way towards Hail and Willow, but decided to go for Willow since it was a little higher. Consistent Class III scrambling led us through various troughs and couloirs until we finally hit the peak at 13,357. Willow is a tame summit with a marker to note it. But due east lies the East Thorne, which appears as a menacing needle with subtle line amongst large scree along the north of the peak, that leads a tight and lofty summit.
East Thorne is a beauty and a challenge with steady Class IV moves up and thru a jagged arete - and then to the summit!
We returned via the same route and ended up at Gore Lake by 4:45 to break down camp and head home. We left camp at 5:15 and walked at a quick clip to reach the truck at 8:10pm.
We saw a total of four people at Gore Lake and NO others the entire time. This is the place to head if you're looking for serenity... and some amazing craggy peaks! Can't wait to return!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):