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Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Colorado 13er questions, conditions, and other info should be posted here. Also includes topics related to 13ers.com. 13er Trip Reports
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Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby kamiller43 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:52 am

Based on Roach's descriptions in the the 13ers book, it is not clear which of these approaches to Pigeon and Turret are "best". I know both are tough bushwacks, but it looks like Pigeon Creek is shorter. Roach says that Ruby creek is the only "practical" approach from the animas, but then he also includes the shorter Pigeon Creek approach. Does that mean that Pigeon Creek is not practical? He also says Ruby Creek has left many strong people speechless. A friend mentioned that one of these approaches was recently improved by a guiding company. Any suggestions or more details on pros/cons of each approach? Thanks!

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby benners » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:05 am

Depends on whether or not you're looking to do other peaks in Ruby besides Pigeon and Turret. If P/T are your only objectives I'd have to think Pigeon Creek would be the way to go. Even if the bushwhack up Pigeon Creek is difficult, so is the bushwhack up Ruby (that's a guarantee), and to get to Pigeon from Ruby adds a few thousand feet of vert that you'd save by going in from Pigeon Creek. When we were there last year we ran into a woman who had done Pigeon in a day from Pigeon Creek and described it as a "fun, doable outing". Below is a photo we took looking down the standard route on Pigeon into North Pigeon Creek. Though you can't see a ton of what's going on below tree line you can see that there are several great high campsites that would grant easy access to Pigeon's west side. Turret of course you'd have to go over the saddle to the south of Pigeon and return back over, but that's nothing compared to the elevation gain/loss coming in from Ruby. Roach's descriptions/opinions can be outdated and based on secondary sources at times, so that's something to consider as well. I hope this helps!

Image

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby mtnmaneric » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:09 am

I was pondering the same question on the way to work today - thanks for asking it!

Are there more recommendations based off of experience?

My specific goals in the area for this summer are just Pigeon and Turret to finish the Cents...
Last edited by mtnmaneric on Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby JosephG » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:11 am

We took the Pigeon Creek approach, which I detailed (sans GPS track) here:
http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=12161&parmuser=josephg&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

In short, the Pigeon Creek approach requires a steep, but not impossible, bushwhack. You will run into a cairn or two and a use trail or two, but your ally here is a GPS and map. The bushwhack is not absurdly thick, thankfully, but it does take some attention. As you get higher, you will begin to see a rock shoulder on your left hand side. That is the very beginning of Pigeon. If you are on this rock shoulder, you are in for a hard time. Towards the top, it levels out and there are a few trails that lead you around the side of the mountain, through a grove of mostly pine trees, and eventually into the basin below Pigeon. There are numerous prime camping sites anywhere through this area.

We chose Pigeon Creek because it was shorter. It was not awful, it just required focus. I saw no evidence of trail improvement on it. P&T from Pigeon Creek is doable in a single day. Bring mosquito repellant.
There are several decent trip reports on this site that could help your planning. Good luck!

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby benners » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:18 am

JosephG wrote:You will run into a cairn or two and a use trail or two, but your ally here is a GPS and map. The bushwhack is not absurdly thick, thankfully, but it does take some attention. It was not awful, it just required focus.

Sounds a lot like the Ruby approach. So given they are similar in terms of the bushwhack factor/attention required to stay on route, seems to me Pigeon Creek would be considered the shorter/easier approach.

Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby mtnfiend » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:41 am

Pigeon creek is definitely a shorter approach and provides a more direct and shorter route to pigeon. If you climb both peaks in the same day, I'm not sure there's a benefit to Ruby over Pigeon.

Edit - Benners beat me to it.
Didn't I ever tell you.....Bumble's bounce!!!

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby mtnmaneric » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:06 am

In your opinions, is it doable in a day from the Needleton TH?

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby JosephG » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:20 am

mtnmaneric wrote:In your opinions, is it doable in a day from the Needleton TH?


Yes.
The last part of the return to Needleton is on easy-to-follow trail (from where the Ruby Creek and Pigeon Creek approaches re-converge). The only exception to that is through the upper meadow, although by then you are very close to done and you probably noted several landmarks on your way through in the morning. Just be sure to have a headlamp.

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby Hoot » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:14 am

The Pigeon Creek approach works fine - especially if you enter the route into your GPS ahead of time as we did. The high meadow at ~11,750 just west of Pigeon Peak is a beautiful place to camp! Here's our GPS track map from 2010. Just ignore that aborted attempt to descend in to Needle Creek. #-o

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby Garrett » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:08 pm

If you do it in a day from Needleton it is quite a bit of elevation gain and loss but very doable. Pigeon creek is shorter but I'm not sure its easier. I went up Pigeon creek and came down Ruby doing both Pigeon and Turret in a day from Needleton and it took a good full day moving steady. Pigeon creek wasn't bad as far as bushwacking but you will be going up steep slopes with no trail through the trees essentially the entire way to the summit. Ruby Creek has a trail that was easy enough to follow from Ruby lake down to Needleton, that trail disappears when you would begin up the slope to the saddle between the two peaks. If I were to do it again I would probably go the opposite way hiking to Ruby lake first, then Turret, then Pigeon, and down Pigeon Creek to the trail junction. I think this is better because you gain your elevation going up a trail and it would probably be easier route finding.

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby KTC88 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:35 pm

Here's the link to my trip report from last August (GPX track included): http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=12751&parmuser=KTC88&cpgm=tripuser

I didn't think the routefinding up Pigeon Creek was that difficult. I figured out a general compass bearing for the route, and also used the ridge to the left and gully/creek to the right as handrails. While doing this in one day is feasible, I loved the campsite in the meadow below Pigeon's west face and wouldn't have wanted to rush the trip.

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Re: Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek?

Postby mtnmaneric » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:50 pm

Garrett wrote:If you do it in a day from Needleton it is quite a bit of elevation gain and loss but very doable.


Can you still make the train on it's way out? :-D

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