| 4x4 Loops With 5 San Juan Thirteeners.
Houghton Mountain 13,052
Tuttle Mountain 13,203
Brown Mountain 13,339
Hanson Peak 13,454
September 1, 2009
~6 Miles, 3,700 Gain.
After meeting with some friends for a few days near Glenwood Springs, I headed down to Silverton on Monday afternoon to meet up with one of my weekday climbing partners, Sandy. While in Glenwood, I realized I nuked my camera; I ended up having a short inside of the camera where it actually melted the plastic shell of the camera. Bummer, no photos for these trips. After meeting up with Sandy, we ended up camping at a good spot near Burns Gulch and Picayne Gulch off of the Cinnamon/Engineer Pass road.
We woke up at 6:00 AM and made the quick drive to the ghost town of Animas Folks where we turned off the main road and headed up California Gulch. We found a good parking spot just past the Placer Gulch road turn off and were hiking north up the grassy south slopes of the Tuttle Mountain, heading toward the Tuttle-Houghton saddle by 6:45 AM. Once we reached the ridge, we headed east up the enjoyable grassy west-southwest ridge to the summit of Houghton where we arrived on the summit at 7:45 AM.
The weather looked good but it was extremely hazy from the fires in California. It was difficult to identify nearby peaks. We headed back down the west-southwest ridge of Houghton and made our way up the northeast ridge of Tuttle. We were able to avoid talus and stay on grass for the entire traverse which made for a nice hike; it was a change in pace from my previous San Juan scree climbs this year. We arrived on the summit of Tuttle at 9:10 AM.
On our way back down the southeast slopes of Tuttle, we noticed an extremely large herd of sheep. When we arrived back on the California Gulch road, we were wading through hundreds of sheep to get back to the car. After arriving back at the car, we drove up to the top of California Pass then down into Poughkeepsie Gulch and then up and over Hurricane Pass. On the south side of Hurricane Pass, near the lake at 12,667, we took a side road which took us near Point 12,947 where we parked for Brown Peak.
From our parking spot, we headed up the gentle class 2 east-northeast ridge of Brown Peak. Once we intersected the north ridge, we headed south to the summit arriving at 11:30 AM where we had excellent views of the Red Mountains. We headed back to the car and drove back to California Gulch where we encountered our massive herd of sheep again. We scoped out some old mining artifacts and then drove up Placer Gulch towards our next objective.
At the saddle of Point 13,075 - 13,270, we parked and started up the grassy class 2 west slopes of Point 13,075. Near the summit, we had to climb up a short easy cliff band where we arrived at 1:20 PM. The weather was still hazy and it was hard to determine if thunderstorms were actually going to build. After a quick break we headed back to the car and drove down Placer Gulch a short distance and parked at the base of the east face of Hanson Peak. We then hiked up an abandoned mining road to gain the grassy east slopes of Hanson Peak. We followed the grass as long as we could and then battled with some loose scree near the ridge crest. We arrived on the summit at 2:30 PM.
After returning to the car, we drove back up Placer Gulch and down Picayne Gulch making a nice 4x4 loop back to our campsite. I would have to say driving around on all the 4x4 roads was just as much fun as climbing these peaks.