Peaks G and F are prominent points on the "Ripsaw Ridge" in the Northwestern Gore Range. These are obscure peaks that will offer a challenging day/days on any route that you take. I originally intended to climb these peaks from the East side from a camp at Bubble Lake via the prominent permanent snowfield between G and F. However, I waited too long into the season (mid-August) and this snowfield was more of an ice field with no obvious alternatives. I imagine that the climb from the East would be in optimal condition for a steep snow-climb in July. However, Peak G as a ranked thirteener in the Gore Range, was on my to-do list for this summer so I decided to climb it from the West as a long day-climb.
I arose dark and early on August 31 and drove to the Piney Lake trailhead from my apartment in Keystone. Its not a lot of miles to this trailhead from where I live however the 12 miles on the badly potholed Red Sandstone road made this a tedious 1hr 20 min drive. Although there are plenty of potholes on this dirt road it is passable without any problems for any car (my little Acura had no problems). I parked outside the Piney River Ranch and started down the trail by headlamp.
After skirting the ranch on a footpath marked by forest service sign, I met up with the main Piney River Trail. This is nice, well maintained trail that sees plenty of use in the first 2 or 3 miles.
Bridge on Piney River Trail
Piney River Trail in the aspens
After about 3 miles the trail becomes more of a primitive footpath, although it is not difficult to follow for the most part.
I was somewhat annoyed that by this time the dreary sky was not clearing up, as the forecast had called for a sunny day, but nothing looked threatening so I continued on. After 5.6 miles of hiking from the trailhead leave the trail and start up a drainage on the left, bushwacking and boulder hopping Northeast and then North.
Starting up the drainage
Continuing up the drainage
This drainage is followed all the way to the gully between F and G. This gully is filled with plenty of loose talus and is definitely a place to put on a helmet. The gully is fairly deeply inset and may hold some snow earlier in the season.
Prominent gully between F and G
Once at the saddle I ditched my trekking pole and turned right to head up the Northwest ridge of Peak G. The initial scrambling is easy and I stayed on the ridge crest.
Starting on NW ridge
I soon came to a minor sub-summit which I by bypassed on the left. You only have to descend a few feet to do this.
Looking around left side of sub-summit to the summit
Left side of sub-summit
This is where you descend to traverse around the sub-summit
After passing the sub-summit I regained the ridge crest and did some fun, moderately exposed scrambling over a narrow section of ridge.
At this point the summit was looming right in front of me, but a direct ascent would have required a steep, exposed difficult class 4/low class 5 climb. However I found that by dropping down a short way (maybe around 20 feet) it is possible to traverse around the right side of the summit block using a ledge.
Start of the ledge around right side of summit block
From this ledge I found a nice, small third class gully which I was able to ascend to Peak G's summit. I was unable to find a summit register (I had meant to bring one but unfortunately forgot).
Summit of Peak G
View to the North from Peak G's summit
I descended back to the F/G saddle by the same route. The weather was holding so I decided to go for Peak F as well. I didn't see a reasonable ascent of Peak F's East ridge from the saddle so I dropped down into the South F/G gully maybe 40 feet and located a steep gully to the right.
Gully up F from F/G gully
I ascended this gully until it split. I opted to take the left fork. This seemed to work well and I even found a couple of cairns which led me around to the South side of the summit block. I located a ledge on the Southern side of the summit block which I scrambled up.
View up gully after going left
Ledge around South side of summit block
Ledge to summit
From this ledge it was a quick scramble up some boulders to the summit of Peak F.
Final boulders to summit
Unnamed lake and Bubble Lake from the summit of Peak F
Peak G from Peak F
I descended Peak F the same way I had ascended it. By now the overcast skies were clearing. Now it was just a matter of descending the drainage, meeting up with the trail and hiking back to my car. Round trip distance was about 14.6 miles and about 6200 ft of total ascent. I drove back to town with thoughts of a chicken queso burrito dancing in my head.
Peak G and Peak F are beautiful, rugged mountains in a wild, pristine location. The scrambling from the saddle was fun and interesting. I highly recommend visiting these obscure but exciting peaks.