Class: 1 on the approach, 2 to 2+ on the peaks.
Exposure: minimal unless you cross right on the connecting ridge
Total gain: ROUGHLY 3400'
Time Not pushing myself: 2.5hrs to E buffalo, 1hr to West, 2.5hrs back to start.
Most of the Mosquito's have a pretty similar character, the Buffalo's however really don't even feel like they belong. While most of the range are on a pretty much continuous ridge on the edge of a fold that makes southpark the Buffalo's are volcanic in origin, and isolated from the rest of the range.
These peaks are a great climb, and offer the best summit view of the Sawatch Range I've yet seen.
Hopefully I can describe the route well enough as to be some help.
Armed with only a topo and a very basic description of the route I headed down US 285 to Forest Road 431. It's roughly 12 miles south of Fairplay and getting close to the junction with US 24.
Follow the road up just over 8 miles where you go around a tighter turn and you'll see an unofficial campsite with some room to park. Just a little back you'll see the remains of an old road blocked by a gate. This is where I started.
"Trailhead" Sorry its blurry.
Head down the road a short ways where you'll encounter a single track that goes up the hill to the left. Follow it until crossing an other old road until you hit a very prominent old road. Staying on the other road MIGHT also work but I'm not positive where it goes.
The old road
Follow the old road all the way to its end. Some smaller roads intersect, but stay on the most defined one and you'll be fine. The road ends in the trees just before a clearing (though you can't see a clearing at this point). If you have a GPS (I didn't) this might be a good place to add a waypoint as you can't see the road on your descent.
The end of the road
Head south up hill to a clearing. The peaks are well in view. Some short bushwacking through willows gets you to a nice grassy slope.
Rocks or Willows, your pick.
From here head up to the low point east of E Buffalo Pk.
E Buffalo. Hike to saddle on the left
Once reaching the low point head up the "backside" of E Buffalo to the summit. Its class 2 to upper class 2 from this point out until you're off W Buffalo. The route is not that difficult, but the boulder field terrain takes some time.
backside of E Buffalo
Some great views to the east and all around is your reward (though the best west views are yet to come).
Antero Res. Pikes on horizon
Heading over to W Buffalo is the worst terrain of the hike. I hiked a little down from the ridge on the S side (the north side is a sheer face).
W Buff from East Buff
Looking back at EB from lowpoint on connecting ridge
On the ridge.
From the top of W Buffalo you get an amazing view of the entire Sawatch Range as well as a great view of the Arkansas River Valley. With the possible exceptions of Belford, Missouri and Huron every 14er in the Sawatch is visible. It was a very hazy day when I climbed and I could still make them out.
From WB. Arkansas Valley, Shavano and Tab., Antero, Princton
Princton, Yale, Columbia, Harvard
Harvard, Missouri, Huron in back?, La Plata, Elbert
Elbert, Massive, Holy Cross barely visible on right
EB from WB
The return. One option would to be returning the way you came, but it makes a lot more sense to make a loop out of it. Head west off W Buffalo's summit to where it flattens out a bit and start looping your way back to the end of the old road.
Descending WB's west slope
The way back. See the road you came in on? I couldn't either
There is no trail, and going "blind" through the woods is required, but thankfully there is little undergrowth so not much bushwacking, just a lot of log hopping. And there are some excellent pack trails to follow. Thanks Elk!
Thanks for the trails guys!
First yellow leaves
where the single track hits the road
Going straight to the old road would take you down to a creek than back up again. To avoid un-needed gain I recommend dropping to around 11650' and going around the rim gradually dropping. As long as you drop to 11500 by the time you are north of E Buffalo you'll hit the road. If you drop lower you'll just hit it further down. The topo map does show another closed road, that leads back at an even lower elevation, but I can't speak for it.