Peak(s):  Mount Neva - 12814
"Quarter to Five Peak" - 12300
Date Posted:  08/21/2011
Modified:  08/24/2011
Date Climbed:   08/20/2011
Author:  Derek
Additional Members:   Claybird
 Mount Neva - North Ridge   

Indian Peaks Wilderness

August 20th, 2011
Distance : 11 miles
Elevation : 3,800'
Trailhead: Fourth of July

"Quarter to Five Peak" - 12,300'
West Ridge from Arapaho Pass : Class 2+

"Quarter to Five Peak" is a simple little peak that is often missed by those ascending to Arapaho Pass from the Fourth of July Trailhead. Despite the popularity of South Arapaho Peak to its east and Mount Neva and Jasper to its west, we saw about 10-15 ascents recorded in the register for the last year. Surprising for a IPW summit on the east side of the divide. From what I can tell, "Quarter to Five Peak" was unofficially named by Gerry Roach. In his book he notes that a pair of individuals "left the Fourth of July trailhead at quarter to five to climb Mount Jasper", but because of the lack of time they decided on this peak instead. Whether that story is true or if that was just an attempt at naming an unnamed peak, I don't know.

Mount Neva - 12,814'
North Ridge from Arapaho Pass : Class 4
Route covered in Gerry Roach's "Colorado Indian Peaks- Classic Hikes and Climbs": Page 113
Route also covered in Dave Cooper's "Colorado Scrambles - 2nd Edition": Page 228

Mount Neva is pretty good at catching the eye of anyone ascending out of the trees from the Fourth of July Trailhead. Its pointed summit and tendency to hold snow late into the year makes if quite picturesque. Most popular routes up this peak tend to be snow routes, and looking at all the lines up the east side makes one understand why. Perhaps appropriately, the word Neva comes from the latin "nivis" meaning snow. I can't tell you if this was the reason for naming the peak, but at least it sounds good.

Weather reports were looking pretty bad for the day, so we wanted to get a decently early start. Clay and Alex picked me up from my place around 4:30AM and we headed straight to the Fourth of July Trailhead. For those that haven't been to the trailhead, it's a rough 2WD road. Passenger cars can make it all the way using caution. After parking and packing up, we started up the gentle Arapaho Pass Trail. The elevation gain is slow along this trail and we were able to keep up a decent pace. This trail sees a good number of travelers. My guess would be most are headed to South Arapaho Peak. I was surprised at the number of people on South Arapaho last month when moonstalker and I hiked the Arapaho Traverse, so evidently its quite the popular destination.

Clay headed up the Arapaho Pass Trail. Flowers are still in full bloom.

First views of Neva from along the Arapaho Pass Trail.

Approaching our turnoff for Quarter to Five Peak, Neva in the background.

Headed up the grass slope to reach the ridge of Quarter to Five Peak.

After a short time along the Arapaho Pass trail, we came out of the trees and had a good view of our day's objectives. "Quarter to Five Peak" was a unimpressive lump straight ahead, but Mount Neva looked intriguing to the left. We decided on hiking up "Quarter to Five" first. The Arapaho Pass trail follows the southern outline of the peak, so as we got closer to the pass, we actually got further from the summit. We finally decided to skip the extra mileage and started straight up towards the ridge instead of following the trail all the way to the pass. Once on the ridge, we had a nice path leading the rest of the way to the summit. Or so I thought. As we reached what we thought was the top, we noticed a higher point about .3 miles further out along the ridge. Indeed, it turned out that I had unknowingly marked both the false summit and the true summit on my GPS. A quick topo check corrected this confusion and we headed on over to the true summit. The distance between the two summits is a bit rough with a lot of boulder hopping. It took a bit of creativity to keep the difficulty at class 2, but we made it without issues. After a quick check of the register, we headed back the same way we ascended all the way to Arapaho Pass.

On Quarter to Five's ridge.

True summit of Q to 5 from the first false summit.

Derek approaching the true summit of Quarter to Five. (Photo taken by Clay)

A good view of the North Ridge of Neva from near Arapaho Pass.

Mount Neva from Lake Dorothy.

Once back at Arapaho Pass, we made a pit stop at Lake Dorothy to refill my water. (I had brought just a one-liter camelback plus a filter to save on weight knowing that the entire area was heavy with flowing water.) From the lake, we could get a great preview of the North Ridge of Neva directly overhead. After refilling, Clay and I parted ways with Alex and started up towards the beginning of the ridge. (Alex had decided she would head back down to the South Arapaho Trail and head up towards Old Baldy Peak while Clay and I did the ridge. We would keep in contact throughout the day on radio.)
Clay and I headed towards the obvious slope that allowed easy access to the ridge, and surprisingly we even found a pretty solid trail leading up. This was a bit surprising as neither route description had mentioned this and it saved us a few hundred feet of talus hopping.

We finally reached the ridge crest and fun could begin. The class 3 starts almost immediately with decent exposure. We came up behind a group of 4 also on the ridge and followed along with them through most of the route. It's a bit hard to describe in sentences the flow of the ridge, so I'll try breaking down the portions with bullets:

1- Level class 3 scrambling for a hundred feet or so. When you reach the end, you are forced to drop about twenty feet to your left. The downclimb isn't too bad, but as with most parts of this ridge a fall would not be good.
2- After the downclimb, we reascended the ridge and scrambled a bit further. There is an obvious downclimb again to your left that the other group followed, but Clay and I continued a bit further on the ridge. Still class 3, but significant exposure. Eventually, we ran out of ground and were forced back down to the left along some ledges.
3- Once off the ledges, we were now in the largest notch in the ridge that can be seen from the Lake Dorothy. The climb out of this notch is said to be class 4, but I didn't think it was above a stiff class 3. Plenty of holds.
4- Once out of the large notch, the terrain levels out again for a hundred feet or so. Another downclimb (again to the left) drops you below the "crux" notch. From here it is a short scramble up into the narrow notch itself.
5- The "crux" notch upclimb is actually about 10 feet east of the notch saddle. It's about 20-30 feet tall, and although definitely class 4, there are plenty of holds.
6- Once above the crux, there is a couple hundred feet of slowly ascending class 3 terrain, but everything here is easier and less exposed than what we had just climbed through.

Once the final scrambling is done, there is only easy class two to the summit. We made it up quickly and enjoyed a quick summit snack.

The start of the North Ridge.

Initial downclimb along the ridge.

Ledge system along the east side of the ridge following the downclimb.

Another downclimb along the ridge. (Photo by Clay)

Clay ascending the opposite side of the large notch.

Derek following up. (Photo by Clay)

About halfway across the ridge, just before the crux.

Clay ascending the crux of the ridge. Solid rock and lots of holds.

Derek topping out past the crux portion. Fittingly, one of the my next planned peaks (Iroquois) is poking above my head. (Pho

Difficulties over, the remaining rocky portion...

...followed by the remaining slope to the summit of Mount Neva.

We chose to descend to the saddle of Mount Neva and Mount Jasper, and from there drop into the "toilet bowl blue" lakes below. This is the descent route that Cooper recommends in his book. This worked fine, although it was a bit loose. (Not in the dangerous way, just the annoying way.) We traversed to our right where a significant snowfield is still present, and from here we could glissade the rest of the way to the lakes below.

The heart of the Indian Peaks Wilderness over the head of Clay.

Mount Jasper from Mount Neva.

Descent path to the lakes from the saddle between Neva and Jasper.

Looking back towards the saddle from the lakes.

Descent path on the top right.

Once at the lakes, we followed the North Fork Middle Boulder Creek as it descended back towards the Arapaho Pass Trail. This creek heads almost in a direct line for the Fourth of July Mine near the South Arapaho Peak intersection. The first section from the lakes was a large boulder hop, but once lower in the basin it was mostly green and grassy...although a bit wet. We didn't have much of an issue meeting back up with Alex along the Arapaho Pass Trail using our walkies, and after a short break the three of us descended the 2 or so miles back to the trailhead.

Turned out to be a great day for a hike, and I would definitely recommend this route to anyone interested in a nice, solid scrambling route that isn't all that far from Denver.

Some last looks at Mount Neva during the trek back to the Arapaho Pass Trail.

Still plenty of flowers out in bloom. South Arapaho Peak in the background.

Flowers facing the way back.

Mellow descent back to Fourth of July Trailhead.

Final googleearth track for the day.


My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions
Nice write up!
08/22/2011 04:46
Yep - it was a beauty of a day up there! Sweet that you guys made a loop of it. Unfortunately, I had to backtrack to nab the pup on the ridge. nice pics!

Love Image 18 - that's got to be your desktop
08/22/2011 14:36
Neva is the 1st mountain to fend me off twice (Juliet - weather, NW Ridge - 4 yr old daughter just didn't quite make it). Admired this route from the NW Ridge and will definitely give it a go for my next try for the summit. Thanks for posting.

Nice one!
08/22/2011 17:13
Very nice, Derek. You have just added yet ANOTHER one to my list!

Thanks for the beta
08/22/2011 18:05
I had been wondering about the continental divide (trail) in that area. Any photos of the connecting ridge to S Arapaho? I know it's rough.... It's been 3 years since I've been up that way, I should return soon.

great TR
07/29/2013 19:07
This is awesome beta - thanks a ton.

Great report
08/06/2016 20:01
Doing this tomorrow. This is a great review and help.

Thank you for your report!
07/09/2020 07:35
Hi Derek - just wanted to say thank you for your report, as my partner and I climbed Neva this past weekend, and your report was a great resource to use to prepare. We loved the ridge!!

Thanks again,

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