13,988' Feet (12 feet shy of attention)
July 5th, 2010
Approximately 7 Miles Roundtrip
Approximately 3,000 Feet Elevation Gained (Due to off standard route excursions.)
Greenhouseguy (Brian), Derek Freed, Chris, Todd (Zoomie83)
So this trip report is a couple weeks old, but I figured some of the information may be useful. Also, during the hike our route choices split into two, so I will do my best to describe both. And thanks to Greenhouseguy for letting me use so many of his pictures, since my camara is a bit "under the weather".
Greenhouseguy and I decided to make the drive in the morning, while zoomie83 and Chris felt like getting some extra sleep by camping close to the trailhead. We met at the La Plata trailhead off of CO-82 and piled into zoomie83's truck for the 4WD trip up to the gate in McNasser Gulch. There are a couple pretty rough sections on the road, I wouldn't suggest trying to take anything that wasn't very good clearance.
We parked just shy of the gate and started out along the gentle mining road as it (slowly) gained elevation. I really didn't know what to expect in terms of scenery in this area, but turns out the entire gulch was really impressive. We were almost being funneled through the green landscape towards the east base of Grizzly Peak, so we could pay less attention to where we were going and more attention to the sights surrounding us. There were some interesting mining remains along the road, including what we presumed to be a dynamite storage locker.
Taken from near the trailhead, Grizzly Peak shrouded in clouds. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Breaking above treeline with Garfield Pk on the left and Grizzly Pk still covered in clouds on the right.
Greenhouseguy beginning his ascent towards the ridge.
Eventually, the road ended and we began a leisurely walk across the grass to where Roach's description describes ascending to the ridge. (I believe we started a bit too far east, I'll take the blame for that one.. ) We began the steep ascent directly below a number of large towers on the ridge. I figured that we could slowly make our way left during the ascent to miss the towers. Zoomie83 wasn't feeling well, so he decided to stay in the gulch as we continued up.
Derek and Chris starting the way up the ridge. We tried to follow the path of least resistance. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
The ascent to the ridge went through three areas: Steep, Annoying, and Steep/Annoying.
1- Steep: For the first third of the way, there really weren't any problems. We were able to follow the grass and made good time up the steepening terrain.
2- Annoying: After the grass stopped (which we could have followed longer had we begun our ascent further west) the slope became scree…very loose and tiring.
3- Steep/Annoying: In the attempt to miss some of the lovely scree, I angled back towards the towers we were previously avoiding to try to find something solid. Turns out, those weren't solid either. Nothing could be trusted as a hold, and the going was slow.
Chris searching for the best way through some loose stuff.
Derek finding some solid rock to ascend on near the towers. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Almost to the top of the ridge.
Finally, we hit the ridge. I was not looking forward to descending the same route later on the way out, but as it turned out we wouldn't have to.
Once on the ridge, we were able to see most of the remaining route to the summit. We could also see that we had a snowfield to contend with to the climbers left of the ridge. Here we had 2 options: 1- Leave the ridge again and contour below the snowfield or 2- Stay directly on the ridge to avoid the snow. (We had not brought the required equipment for crossing the steep snowfield, so that was not an option.) Chris and I decided to stick to the ridge, while Greenhouseguy decided to skirt around the snowfield.
A look at most of the remaining distance to the summit. Chris and my route in red, Greenhouseguy's in blue. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Once Greenhouseguy made it around the snowfield, he apparently was able to find a faint trail to follow up some more scree. By angling directly towards the west, he was eventually able to pop back out on the ridge about 150 vertical feet from the summit.
Greenhouseguy's view looking back up at the ridge from below the snowfield. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Greenhouseguy's path to the summit once around the snowfield. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Greenhouseguy almost to the summit ridge. Derek and Chris are seen at the top. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
For Chris and I, we ended up facing a more technical, but probably less strenuous ascent. We had to face some class 3 sections one high class 3/low 4 move to get up and over a rock fin that was on the ridge over the snowfield. It was over quick, and the remainder of the ridge up to where we met back with Greenhouseguy was all easy class 2.
The "crux" of Chris and my option to stick to the ridge crest. We headed for the notch at the top.
Greenhouseguy traversing below the snowfield.
Chris reaching the final summit ridge where we met back up with Greenhouseguy.
Once our group "reformed", we began the final rocky traverse to the summit. Roach rates this portion as class 2+, and I thought that rating characterized it well. We had to cross a couple easy ribs on the west side, and one final quick scramble popped us out on the summit.
The views from this summit were incredible. Pretty much the entire Sawatch was visible, even on out to the Elks and San Juans. It was a perfect bluebird day and we felt no rush to leave so we sat a bit to take in the sights.
Chris and Greenhouseguy picking out some peaks from the summit.
We discussed the option of heading to Garfield Peak A, but finally decided that we would return to the ridge and follow it east past our ascent point and see if we could make our way to Ouray Peak, a ranked 12er. This would allow us a nice long ridge run, as well as allow us to make our way back towards the trailhead at the same time. None of us had any idea what we would face once we got closer to Ouray, as the portion of the ridge that led to the saddle of Grizzly and Ouray was out of sight. We figured if it turned out to be bad, we could simply drop off the slope to the south and head back to the mining road.
The decided descent route. The blue marks where Greenhouseguy dropped off, Chris and my drop off point is out of sight in this photo.
Scenes from the ridge during the traverse over to Ouray.
Some fun rock outcroppings on the ridge to Ouray. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Looking back up towards the ridge from near the Ouray "notch".
We headed back to where we gained the ridge by traversing under the snowfield. (pretty much in between our two ascent routes.) We didn't feel like trying to down climb the portion of the ridge that Chris and I had come up, and going down the loose stuff was MUCH easier than going up. We passed where we gained the ridge and continued east, staying on the ridge itself whenever possible. There were no sections that couldn't be skirted around to the climber's right, but nothing on the ridge was too bad anyway. It was quite enjoyable.
After about 30 minutes, we came to the portion of the ridge that drops down to the saddle with Ouray. This had been the portion that was out of sight from the summit of Grizzly Peak. Now that we were closer, we could see that there was a large notch at the saddle, and we weren't sure whether it would be possible to descend to the true saddle because of this obstacle. Greenhouseguy decided to leave the ridge here and descend back to the gulch. (Very smart move in hindsight.) Chris and I decided to check out the notch close up and see if we could find a descent route to the saddle. Greenhouseguy's descent appeared to go smoothly, and was able to make it back down to level ground in 15 or so minutes. Chris and I made quick time down the rest of the ridge and finally came face to face with "the notch". I checked directly off the east, north, and south ends. Nothing but loose rock ready to tumble. Bummer, it appeared Ouray would not be happening today.
Derek and Chris looking at the notch and deciding on a plan. This is where we would again choose different routes. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
We figured that we would re-ascend until we found a safe descent gully back down into the gulch to the south. After about a hundred yards, we finally found an exit point that appeared to be doable. It wasn't terribly steep, but oh boy was it loose! We went one at a time, section by section to prevent knocking any rocks on each other. The difficulties were very short, and in a couple minutes we were descending mellower slopes down towards Greenhouseguy who had been watching us and taking pictures down below.
Derek and Chris near the "notch", photo taken from below. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Derek and Chris heading down a gully to meet back up with Greenhouseguy, deciding to pass on Ouray. (Photo by Greenhouseguy)
Feeling good to be off that loose stuff, we continued down into the tree's and followed the GPS to intersect our track from that morning on the mining road. We hit the road after about 20 minutes, and after another 20 minutes we made it back to the trailhead.
Heading out, back towards the trailhead.
In hindsight, the ridge towards Ouray Peak was a lot of fun. However, I would drop off at the point Greenhouseguy did and forego any attempt on reaching the true saddle. We left with only getting the one peak, but with the absolutely perfect weather that day, it was a fantastic time out.
Final track of the day. Red indicates where Greenhouseguy split to a different route.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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