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Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

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Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby rhinos00 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:15 am

Hey guys -

A couple of my friends and I are thinking of doing a loop tomorrow from Pacific Peak to Crystal Peak to Father Dyer to Mount Helen. A few questions we had:


1) Has anyone done this loop before and what has your experience been like?
2) Approximately how long did it take you to complete? Our concern is trying to beat out the afternoon storms (aiming to leave Spruce Creek Trailhead at 5am).
3) Any additional info we need to know before we tackle this loop?

Thanks for all the help! Very much appreciated.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby Jim Davies » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:35 am

I haven't done all of this loop, but I didn't really like the second half of Father Dyer->Helen much. The descent off Helen might be kind of a slog, too. I've eyeballed Father Dyer east ridge->Crystal->Pacific->Pacific east ridge->Mohawk Lakes as a possible fun loop before, but never got around to trying it - kind of a long day, and although the descent to Mohawk Lakes looks OK on topos I don't really know what it will be like. Regardless, have fun! I really like that area.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby Hungry Jack » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:42 am

The class 3 scramble along the Mt Helen - Father Dyer ridge is one of the best in the Tenmile range.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby d_baker » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:56 am

I would consider going up Helen first, and then traverse to Father Dyer to Crystal. From Crystal, decide if Pacific is a safe option to reach if impending weather is a concern. I did the Helen -> Father Dyer -> Crystal loop in '08, and that was a fun day. My friend posted a report on it, and it lists our time with a moderate pace (7.5hrs).

I haven't done the loop you're looking at, but I assume you're looking at the NE slopes (per Roach; or per 13ers.com the E ridge from Mohawks Lake -- both routes I think are essentially the same) to gain the upper tarn on Pacific as the route.
I've only been up to the Mohawk Lakes once, and I recall it took us a while to get up in there. We started much earlier in the morning though because we were going for the N couloir on Pacific and wanted the early/hard snow conditions. Our route finding in the dark around the lower lake ate up some time. The route finding around the lake in the dark slowed us down.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby rhinos00 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:39 am

Thanks for all the great input so far! Orginally, this whole thing started out with just wanting to climb the difficult, class 2 east route to Pacific Peak (we are climbing Longs in 2 weeks and wanted to get some practice in). However, we saw that there are several other peaks around, and the idea of doing the class 3 ridge between Father Dyer and Mount Helen sounded like a lot of fun and good experience to have before hitting up Longs.

Based on what you guys have told me, we may have to temper our expectations, especially if we want to beat afternoon storms. We will probably have to decide on if we want to do something like Pacific and Crystal or the combo of Helen, Father Dyer, and Crystal...

Decisions, decisions.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby d_baker » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:52 am

rhinos00 wrote:this whole thing started out with just wanting to climb the difficult, class 2 east route to Pacific Peak

I would classify the entire E ridge route (usually accessed from McCullough Gulch) as class 3 and 4 (if you want class 4), and the route described on 13ers.com as probably as class 2+ (which I think is how Bill has rated it, with the approach from Mohawk Lakes, and joins the E ridge just before the tarn, and after all of the scrambling on the E ridge).
The entire E ridge route is long, has a fair amount of route finding but not all that difficult. I've done the E ridge 3 times, and it takes a while to get across. But it's a great route!

Helen to Father Dyer is equally as good of a route, but probably has some harder scrambling, and I think it goes more at a class 4 rating.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby rhinos00 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:49 pm

Helen to Father Dyer is equally as good of a route, but probably has some harder scrambling, and I think it goes more at a class 4 rating.[/quote]

I'm not proud to say this, but a few weeks back I made the mistake of going up the wrong gully on the Citadel. Ended being an extremely loose, steep class 4...actually got stuck for a few minutes half way up because I could not find a single solid rock. Probably one of the more adrenaline packed, scary moments of my life. So when you say class 4, do you mean more in terms of exposure or the quality of rock (i.e. loose rocks)? I'd rather not relive the experience I had on the Citadel that day.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby d_baker » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:45 pm

rhinos00 wrote:when you say class 4, do you mean more in terms of exposure or the quality of rock (i.e. loose rocks)?

Class 4 can have that (loose rock and exposure -- albeit exposure definitely comes with the rating), but that is not what gives the terrain its classification. Class 4 to me is when the rock becomes steeper and you must use 3 points of contact while using simple climbing technique in order to ascend or descend. Typically, if I feel that I need to face in on a down-climb, I give it the classification of class 4.
Exposure can be had on a class 2 hike (like near an edge of a big drop) but the exposure does not increase the classification, but should be noted. Exposure can also have low consequence or severe consequences (i.e., serious injury or death).

The class 4 found on the E ridge of Pacific is only if you want to do it. (e.g., there's at least one tower that can be skirted on the S side to be kept at 2+ -> 3; or if one takes the tower head on, it's class 4 w/serious exposure but on good solid rock).
On the Helen to Father Dyer traverse, I think the rock is fairly solid too, and some of the exposure is serious. Both or either routes are decent and the route finding is generally straight forward and not tricky. It's either, "I think I can go over this" or "I think we should go around this." Sometimes when you think you can go over something, you may have to retrace your steps a bit because you find the other side (e.g., a tower) does not look like an easy or friendly down-climb.

I hope that clears some things up for you.
Good luck!

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby rhinos00 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:49 pm

Thanks d_baker! That definitely clears it up. We are going to sit down and decide which route to go here in a bit.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby d_baker » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:56 pm

Also worth noting, and if memory serves me well, is that on both routes (E ridge Pacific & Helen to F Dyer) the S side of the ridge proper is generally the side to go to for easier terrain. But never very far off the S side of the ridge proper.

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby rhinos00 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:52 pm

So we settled on the Mount Helen/Father Dyer/Crystal Peak loop, but now the weather sort of has us sketched out a bit:

Sunday Isolated showers, then scattered showers and thunderstorms after 9am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59. South southeast wind 7 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.


Our back up plan for bad weather was Mount Ricthofen...it looks like the weather there is a lot better and we still get class 3. Does anyone have a link to a more accurate weather forecast for Ricthofen?

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Re: Pacific Peak Loop - need info.

Postby rhinos00 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:07 pm

Nevermind. Found one for Mount Richthofen:

Sunday Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 61. Southeast wind 5 to 9 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.


Sounds a little more promising for a successful Class 3 summit...

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