| Mosquito Gulch Cirque
Mountains: In order, Loveland, Buckskin, Tweto, Treasurevault, Mosquito, Repeater/Kuss, Evans B
Starting point: A flat spot just before Mosquito Pass Road from Alma begins gaining elevation. The road is 2WD up to here.
Distance: ~14.5 miles
Time: ~11 hrs
I was looking for a hike close to Denver that would be challenging and fun. Using 13ers.com and the map function there, I found these peaks, but I wasn't sure there would be a good way to get to all of them. I've seen some trip reports for the Repeater, Mosquito, Treasurevault, and Tweto section, but not the whole circuit. I headed out with the goal of hiking them all, but I was prepared to bail if I was uncomfortable with the route.
I decided to not hike up the road, but to rather leave the easy (though tedious) ~3 mile road hike for the end of the hike. Instead, I walked back toward the intersection just before where I parked and headed pretty much straight to Loveland Mountain. I had scoped out the terrain earlier and I decided to hike straight up the side of the mountain between two couloirs. However, it probably would have been an easier effort to hike up Loveland Mountain farther down along the ridge where the slope eases. This would have involved maybe a 1/4 mile walk down the road toward Alma or some bushwacking along the base of the mountain.
Here's a view of of my approximate ascent route in red and what appeared to be a better ascent route in blue. The photo was taken from Treasurevault Mountain later in the day.
Route taken (red) and probably a better route (blue)
The slope was pretty steep, but it wasn't too bad. Higher up, the slope turned to talus, but it was fairly stable. I actually came across some evidence (old footprints) that at least one other person had been on this part of the mountain.
Heading toward the steep Loveland slope
Looking down from the summit ridge. My parking spot is marked.
Once on top of Loveland, I saw the remaining route to the summit.
The terrain on the ridge to Loveland's summit.
Be aware of the open mine pits on the summit ridge.
Watch out for open pits.
Here's Loveland's summit.
The route to Buckskin becomes clear. It's an easy walk, mostly on a trail, but sometimes the trail fades away.
Route to Buckskin
Another look at the route to Buckskin
Buckskin has 2 summits. Here's the approach to the first one.
Approaching the first summit of Buckskin
I wasn't sure which was the highest so I went over and stood on both just to be sure. Here's the talus-hopping route to the second summit.
Route from Buckskin's southern summit to the northern summit.
The ridge from Buckskin to Tweto was the most difficult part of the hike. There was a steep descent off the northern summit of Buckskin down some class 2+ terrain to some white-ish rocks. Most of the rock/talus in the downclimb was pretty stable. Just above and for a while after these rocks, the terrain was class 3, with some steep downclimbs, some downsloping slabs, a wall/chimney, and some exposure (not hundreds of feet of exposure, but a fall would not have been good). Most of these downclimbing moves reminded me of sections of the Loft Route up Longs after you pass the saddle between Meeker and Longs. However, there was no trail that I saw.
I'm sure this is not the only way to go between the two peaks.
Most of the ridge from Buckskin to Tweto. I stayed below the ridge crest.
A closer look at the ridge from Buckskin to Tweto (in the center) from just below the northern Buckskin summit.
Looking back at the first part of the white rock downclimb.
The downclimb in the next photo was not as bad as it looks.
Looking ahead at the next part of the white rock downclimb.
Looking back at the end of the white rock downclimb.
After you get down from the white rock area, the route flattens out a bit, though it's still a sidehill traverse. You also get a view of the rest of the route.
The remaining ridge ahead. Tweto on the left, Arkansas is on the right.
Some larger and more stable rock.
Some bigger and more stable rock.
I then came to a wall/wide chimney downclimb - maybe 20 feet vertical, probably a little less. This was pretty easy class 3 and I faced out while I did it. The rock was mostly stable.
Here's the wall downclimb. It was maybe 20 feet tall and pretty easy - I faced out.
Then came a section of slabs. There were several downclimbing options, but they would probably require facing in to do them (I faced in). I found an option where I put my foot into a crack and was able to lower myself down that way. This was a fun section.
Here's looking back at the whole "slabs" area.
The entire "slabs" area
The rest of the route involved a lot of side-hill hiking. The rock was mostly solid-ish, but there was a lot of loose talus and some gullies where the dirt/rock was pretty loose.
I stayed below the ridge crest and I would think that staying higher on the ridge or actually on the ridge crest would provide more solid rock, but more sustained scrambling.
Here's the remaining route to Tweto. I don't remember how long this traverse took me, but it seemed like a long time - maybe 1.5 or 2 hrs. It might have been quicker to stay higher on the ridge, but that would have required more scrambling up and down bumps and avoiding cliffs due to gullies on the hiker's right side of the ridge. The nice thing about this traverse is that it would be relatively easy to bail to the hiker's left to escape weather. The slope is pretty mellow and this would get you to the valley floor, not far from a jeep trail.
Remaining route - the summit is the farther mound.
Tweto's summit is the far mound of talus. It's an easy class 2 hike.
I originally thought about going to visit Arkansas via the ridge connecting it to Tweto, but I spent so much time getting from Buckskin to Tweto I decided to leave Arkansas for another time. The ridge between Tweto and Arkansas didn't look too bad - probably mostly class 2 with some short class 3?
The route from Tweto to Treasurevault is clear. Stay to the right as much as you can.
The route to Treasurevault, Mosquito, and Repeater from Tweto
The terrain between Tweto and Treasurevault is mostly pebbles with some grass/wildflower areas. It's a nice change from all the talus.
Typical terrain between Tweto and Treasurevault
Hiking up talus to Treasurevault's summit.
Terrain to Treasurevault's summit.
The route from Treasurevault to Mosquito is straightforward. There were some trail segments, but I pretty much just walked right to Mosquito. I used the highest "road" to head around to the hiker's right of Mosquito before heading straight up the talus.
Looking at Mosquito from Treasurevault
The hike from Mosquito to Repeater is easy and obvious. There was a trail most of the way up Repeater. It looked like a very old road, but clear enough to follow for a while - until it faded. You can also just walk up the talus to get to the top.
Repeater from Moquito
I then made my way from Repeater to Mosquito Pass, walking on a road for part of the way. The route from Treasurevault to Mosquito to Repeater to Mosquito Pass was very obvious and pretty much involved just walking on the ridge or taking a road/trail whenever you can find one that leads to where you want to go.
I crossed Mosquito Pass Road and followed another road and then, when it ended, the ridge and other road/trail segments to Mt. Evans B. This was a very easy and obvious hike - just keep following the ridge while passing old equipment. I reversed my route to get back to Mosquito Pass.
View toward Mosquito Pass from Repeater
I turned right (east) at Mosquito Pass Road and walked about 3 dusty, mindless miles to my car. Along the way are the remains of several mines.
On the way down, I passed by London Mountain. I was worried about weather and my energy level so I decided to hike it the next day. After hiking it the next day, I realized I probably could have rallied and gotten it done.
Here's my report about London Mountain: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=8528
Boots vs. trail runners
I had been a big believer in wearing "proper" hiking boots on all hikes, but recently I've been wearing trail runners more. For this long hike, I decided to wear trail runners to save on weight. I think it was a good choice, but my feet hurt a lot at the end of the hike from all the talus I walked on. Also, I did miss the protection the leather provides when loose rocks moved/fell onto my feet/ankles. I don't know if my feet would have hurt as much with boots, but they probably would have. I think the only detriment to not wearing boots was the rocks hitting my feet.
I hope this was useful for someone.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):