| The Tenmile Traverse
Royal Mountain (10,502)
Peak 1 (12,805)
Tenmile Peak (12,933)
Peak 3 (12,676)
Peak 4 (12,866)
Peak 5 (12,855)
Peak 6 (12,573)
Peak 7 (12,665)
Peak 8 (12,987)
Peak 9 (13,195)
Peak 10 (13,633)
15.6 miles one way, 8000' gain, 8.5 hours
Starting point: Royal Mountain Trailhead, Frisco (9,100 ft)
Ending point: Peak 9 mid-mountain restaurant, Breckenridge (11,200)
Partners: Chris, Forrest, Paxton, and Susie
I've always wanted to do this traverse and when Chris suggested it I was in. Paxton and Susie would join us from Steamboat and Forrest was a last minute addition. A great team was formed for this incredible traverse. The monsoon weather was troublesome and there was a 50% chance of rain after noon. We decided to move fast and see how far we could get. At any point along the ridge we could bail east down to Highway 9 if necessary. Only five of these peaks are ranked and Peak 10 would be a repeat for me. But I did pick up four new ranked peaks and one incredible ridge run.
We met up very early in Frisco and continued on to Breckenridge. We could have left a car in town but we figured it would be best to leave one mid-mountain on the ski hill. Some time was wasted finding the right road up the mountain. Turns out the road leaves right next to the chairlift and the base of Peak 9. We left Paxton's vehicle at the Peak 9 restaurant at 11,200 and all piled into mine for the trip to Frisco. We found a parking area right by the bike path and the Royal Mtn trail. The hike began at 6:30 a.m.
There is a nice (but steep) trail all the way to the top of Royal. It was only a short diversion and 100 vertical feet to reach the unranked summit of Royal from the saddle with Peak 1. This is worthwhile for the great views over Frisco and allows one to get all the peaks in the range by starting here. From Mount Royal there is a decent climbers trail continuing nearly all the way to treeline and the ridge of Peak 1. It was almost 4000' of gain just to reach Peak 1, a lot of work in the humid conditions. One nice thing about this traverse is you can bust out all that gain early and partially on a trail when you are fresh. Then the chunks of vertical between each peak don't seem that big, though they do increase later in the hike.
Treeline on the way to Peak 1:
Looking back towards Royal. Frisco and Lake Dillon below:
Scrambling portion of the traverse from Peak 1. Tenmile Peak, Peak 3, Peak 4 seen in succession:
The next three peaks involve all the scrambling on the route. It is fun scrambling and never exceeds Class 3 unless you want it to. We picked up our first ranked peak of the day on Tenmile Peak. The Dragon is a fun section between Peaks 2 and 3. Paxton took a turn bouldering on the formation and then we avoided it by descending slightly to the west. That was the only time all day we had to significantly leave the ridge. Some of the best rock was on the ascent to Peak 4, really good stuff. All along the views are tremendous on either side.
The team scrambling along (Susie, Forrest, Chris, Paxton):
The Dragon area:
Fun ridge to Peak 4:
The best rock of the day:
Birds eye view of Copper Mountain and Jacque Peak beyond:
Upon reaching Peak 4 we took a longer break. We were pleased that the weather had held up and all that remained was miles of walking on grassy tundra. It was time to step on the accelerator and continue our trek to the south. Peak 5 is nothing more than a bump on the ridge with only 75' of prominence. Peak 6 is also easy. We were nearing the Breckenridge ski area. In fact there are long term plans to expand the lift system just below the peak. For now it is reached only by a few each summer. Peak 7 is only a small bump on the way to Peak 8. But it takes a lot of gain to get up there and we all felt this one. Finally on Peak 8 we were well within the ski area. Chris and I had been up here before in the winter. I haven't really counted it as climbed as I did it from the Imperial chairlift only 150 vertical feet below. But I'm counting it now! The weather had begun to sour and we knew we'd have to hustle now to complete the plan.
Huge hump of Peak 7:
Now there were only two 13ers remaining in the traverse. Though the terrain had eased the altitude was increasing and the drops between peaks are larger. This is tiring and we all were feeling it. In the saddle between 8 and 9 we met a mountain biker who had come up from Breckenridge and was continuing over the other side. He would continue to Frisco and back to Breck on the bike path. A fine biking loop indeed. Incredibly, Forrest knew the guy. Small world. Peak 9 was a toughie with a false summit and a rocky finish.
Tundra walk to Peak 9. Peak 10 above it to the left, Crystal Peak to the right:
The weather looked imposing to the south and we started to hear a distant rumble or two. Forrest and I took off ahead and our group kind of spread out. Down to the saddle and up Peak 10, the end was in sight. Rather than the direct 900' ascent up teetering talus we contoured over to the road that goes up to the east ridge. Forrest and I were way out in front and nearly to the top of the road when the thunder got a bit louder. He turned around but I continued, still hopeful to reach the summit and complete all the peaks in the traverse. I grabbed my raingear and ditched my pack in the old mining shack and began running up the last peak. It did sprinkle a bit but I don't think the lightning ever got closer than five miles away. It was right on the edge of my comfort zone, anything closer and I would have turned as well. I quickly reached the highest and last peak of the day and hurried on out of there. The rest of the crew had started down to Paxton's truck. I hustled back down the road and into the broad basin below. It was a quick cruise back to the Peak 9 restaurant. It sure was nice to have a vehicle there and not have to hike down two or three more miles into town. Later we celebrated the day with some great food and beer at the Backcountry brewery in Frisco. It had been an awesome day with great friends. This will be one of the more memorable hikes of the summer for me.