Located east of Vail Pass near the Copper Mountain Ski Area and Fremont Pass, Jacque Peak (13,205 feet) sits stoically by itself, isolated from the rest of the Gore Range. Easy to climb, humble Jacque is often overlooked by hikers as they travel through the area en route to the Sawatch and Tenmile Ranges. What Jacque Peak lacks in size, however, it makes up for in views. The tallest peaks in 4 ranges can be seen from its summit.
Jacque Peak is a mountain for all ages and seasons. I first climbed it with my family at age 7 and it gave me one of my first introductions to mountain climbing. Since then I have gone on to summit many other peaks, but Jacque has remained a favorite to look at and reminisce about. Recently I decided it was time to climb it again, so I figured I would post information about the climb here for others to enjoy.
The shortest and easiest way to climb Jacque Peak is from the Copper Creek drainage which can be reached by taking I-70 to the Copper Mountain exit and driving 4.1 miles south on Highway 91 towards Fremont Pass. Just before the highway begins to ascend towards Fremont Pass, you will come to a large pull-off on the right hand side. This is the trailhead.
From here we followed a road towards the huge tailing ponds. After passing through a gate we continued about 200 yards south on the road past a series of small beaver ponds. Here we crossed a small ditch along the road and climbed up a slope into the trees.
The gated road we hiked to get to the start of the Copper Creek drainage
Another shot of the lower Copper Creek drainage. Our route ascended through the trees to the left of Copper Creek.
The slope we ascended just to the south of the true Copper Creek drainage
This is not the actual Copper Creek drainage but a small slope just to the south of it. By ascending this slope we were able to bypass the steep and narrow lower portion of Copper Creek.
After hiking about a quarter of a mile through the trees up this slope, generally keeping to the right (but staying well above the creek), we began to see a faint use trail and pink and blue ribbons on the trees left by the Copper Mountain Ski Patrol and decided to follow them.
This proved to be a good idea and soon we emerged in upper Copper Creek near the base of the Blackjack lift. After crossing the creek on a log bridge (to reach the base of the first lift) we followed a dirt access road as it headed southwest across the ski slopes towards a second ski lift.
Hiking through the trees into lower Copper Creek
A ribbon marks the way through the trees
Looking back on down the lower Copper Creek drainage (Highway 91 can be seen in the background)
The bottom of the Blackjack lift with Peak 10/Crystal in the background
Hiking across Copper's lower ski slopes towards the bottom of the Mountain Chief chairlift
Just before reaching the second lift (Mountain Chief), we left the road near an avalanche control tower and began to head southeast toward a boulder field and some willows. Following the path of least resistance, we zigzagged our way through the willows on a faint use trail (only having to bash our way through a couple of spots) and crossed several small springs and boggy areas to reach the upper part of the grassy basin below the northeast ridge of Jacque.
Jacque Peak comes into view above the base of the Mountain Chief chairlift
Our remaining route from where we left the ski area access road
A faun pops its head up to look at us
Skirting a section of the willows in upper Copper Creek
A look back at our route up Copper Creek
From here we angled our way up the grassy slopes to reach the southern end of the ridge between the ski area and Jacque Peak.
Crossing the upper slopes to reach Jacque Peak's summit ridge
Copper Mountain's backside
Reaching the summit ridge on Jacque Peak
Peak 10, Crystal, Pacific, Atlantic, Fletcher, and Drift Peaks (left to right) rise above Tucker Mountain
The Gore Range gets weather
Once on the ridge the route became rockier and steeper (but never exceeded Class 2 climbing) as we ascended somewhat loose talus.
The ridge to the summit of Jacque Peak (as seen from the saddle)
Elk graze in the upper Tucker Creek basin
The final pitch to the summit of Jacque Peak
A look back at Jacque's summit ridge
In about 20 minutes we had reached Jacque Peak's windy summit. After snapping some summit photos we quickly donned our jackets and retreated to Jacque's east side to get out of the wind and eat an early lunch before beginning our descent.
Some summit photos:
West Partner, Grand Traverse, East Partner, and Red Peak in the Gore Range
Mount Powell covered in clouds
The Tenmile/Mosquito Range above the Climax mine
Front Range peaks Grays and Torres to the north
Fletcher and Drift peaks rise above Mayflower Gulch
Pacific and Atlantic do their East Coast/West Coast thing
The Tucker Creek drainage taken on our descent
All in all it was a great day on Jacque Peak. Despite the wind and a little rain on our descent, I was glad to visit this mountain again and bring back some memories.
Jacque Peak taken from Shrine Pass Road later that day
Important Note: Authorities from the Climax Industrial Complex have recently put up barricades and no parking/private property signs all over this area to prevent trespassing on the mine property. To avoid being harrassed by officials, we chose to park in a smaller pull-out on the north side of Highway 91. While it is somewhat difficult to determine where the Forest Service/Copper Mountain Ski Area boundary begins, hikers should be careful to avoid crossing the private property in lower Copper Creek en route to Jacque's northeastern slopes.