Peak(s):  "The Citadel"  -  13,294 feet
Hagar Mountain  -  13,220 feet
Date Posted:  09/13/2011
Modified:  08/13/2013
Date Climbed:   09/10/2011
Author:  bergsteigen
 Summit is in the eye of the beholder - Citadel to Hagar Traverse   

"The Citadel" & Hagar Mountain

Route: Herman Gulch TH, Cooper's Colorado Scrambles route to The Citadel, ridge to Hagar
Mileage: 10.7
Elevation Gain: 3,909'
Ridge scramblers: Darrin (kansas) & me

With snow above 13.5K this past weekend, summer scramble season is quickly coming to a close. So we decided to get one last one before snow and skiing are the main draw. "The Citadel" has been on my radar since I first saw it. An impressive class 3 peak tucked away in a forgotten corner of the Front Range. Off-highway road access, good trail to treeline and close to home. Check!

We decided to forgo the ambiguities of the Dry Gulch parking and subsequent bushwhack for the simpler trail access of Herman Gulch. It would add some distance, but ease of travel would make it faster. Started hiking as first light was trickling up I-70 and headlamps were no longer necessary.

The lower part of the trail went by quickly as the sun rose higher in the sky. As we made our way up the bench to Herman Lake, Cooper suggests we divert from the trail and contour around the valley before reaching the lake. I see a small trail divert at the elevation suggested, but as it ran into trees and willows, I didn't want to go that way. It was much easier to hike to the lake and then contour higher around the valley, than to willow bash lower. Cooper's "trail" may save some elevation gain/loss or maybe just shorter distance, but it's not worth the willow disaster. We tried his way on the way back, but soon regretted our decision and went back to our morning's route. Ease of travel trumps shorter distance in this case.

Chilly morning - Pettingell in background

The Citadel


Willow free - contour

Once on the south side of Herman Gulch, there is a decent climbers trail up to the Bethel - Citadel saddle. On the saddle, Hagar Mountain finally comes into view, as well as the difficulties of the remainder of the way up The Citadel. There is a faint trail that will lead you from the saddle to the gully that separates the two summits of The Citadel.

Climbers scree trail to saddle

Citadel to Pettingell Traverse - for another day

Hagar Mountain

Citadel's fortress

Once in the gully, proceed asap to the west side (ie climbers left) and get onto the solid rock of the ridge. A decent climbers trail will take you to the summit

Gully between Citadel's "summits"

Loose gully - go to rocks/ridge on left immediately - Photo Credit: Darrin

The true summit is very airy and consists of a few towering blocks. Darrin wasn't convinced this was the true summit, as he looked over to the prominent block to the east. This would be the running theme of the day... which is the true summit?

Darrin next to the summit block

Traverse to Hagar

Traverse to Pettingell

Herman Gulch view

Citadel's "false summit"

After a short "summit" break, we start the traverse over to Hagar Mountain. The elevation loss on the ridge happens immediately in a loose scree fest. But once starting up again towards Hagar, the fun begins - if you stay ridge proper. Plenty of opportunity for class 3 & 4 if you want it. Otherwise you can traverse a few feet lower, mainly on the east side for class 2+.

Approaching the low point of the ridge to Hagar

Some fun scrambling to be had

Chillin' in the sun

Ridge proper was lots of fun

Approaching the final summit block, the route does go class 4, and I didn't see a good work-around. But there are still options of route to choose from. Darrin went with a solid class 4 slab-crack climb, where I went with the more loose chimney climb. The walls are solid, but the center of the chimney was loose and foot holds were more difficult.

Hagar's impressive summit block

Darrin chose a crack climb

I chose the loose chimney - good hand holds, sub par foot holds

Me in the chimney - Photo Credit: Darrin

Above the chimney - Photo Credit: Darrin

The last obstacle faced before the summit is an airy knife edge. The ridge proper was easier than the down sloping narrow ledge that is below this edge.


Darrin crossing the knife edge

Approaching the knife edge - Photo Credit: Darrin

A very worthwhile summit and day of scrambling achieved!

Darrin is always so serious... maybe I should pinch him next time

We had planned on contouring around The Citadel's lower fortress walls to get back to the saddle, but as Darrin wasn't convinced we had gotten the "true summit", we went back to the gully separating the two Citadel summits to tackle the class 4 chimney blocking access to this "summit". Here we run into a guy that I saw descending Pettingell, while we were on Citadel the first time. This guy wasn't sure either about which was the summit, and also headed over to check as well. Once on this pinnacle, it was obvious that the summit from earlier in the morning was the true one.

Still a few flowers to be seen

Returning to The Citadel

Class 4 chimney up to the "false summit"

View of "true summit"

At least we made sure we got it right? After that, the way down the trail and back to the truck went quickly. Plenty of hikers and fishermen on the lower trail to contrast the single person we saw all day above treeline.

Hey, Tuning Fork looks in

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Very nice photos ...
09/13/2011 19:52
It must be a girl thing, but I chose the chimney route on Hagar, too. Just a beautiful day and nice time of year for pictures (you two make a good looking climbing couple ... maybe you could get ”the man” to smile next time ). Thanks for posting. Happy trails!

VERY cool!
09/13/2011 20:28
Love the next to the last picture - the view of the ”true summit”. This is yet ANOTHER route I will add to my list as a result of your TR. So many mountains, so little time...

Thanks for posting!

09/13/2011 20:28
Great pictures and description. This is on my to do list!

Of course he's serious.
09/13/2011 21:07
Thirteener-bagging is very serious business, after all, and it's what Darrin lives for. You do realize that it's going to be Indian Summer soon, and that you won't be ”snow climbing or skiing” for another 6-8 weeks at the earliest, don't you?
That DOES look like a fun route though. I got a chuckle that you said there were fishermen up there. My research says there are no fish in Herman Lake, unless they've stocked it recently.
Well done, as always.

09/13/2011 21:48
Really good pics. I like the last knife edge shot- a ”cutting edge” photo that makes it look a lot scarier than the first pic!
And really like the rock and colors in the last chimney shot. Sure looks fun and like a primo hike!

09/14/2011 01:04
Nice report Otina.
Myself and Kimo, & The Paperson's did those two a few weeks ago, and then added some other 13er down the way (above Loveland).
Nice peaks, and some decent scrambling.
We checked out both summits on Citadel as well, and to me they're very close in elevation.

09/14/2011 01:25
Can't wait to hit these!

Great route
09/14/2011 03:07
That was a good hike - one I won't forget. I really enjoyed those mountains and my partners. We started from Herman Gulch TH and ended at Loveland ski resort. Your TR and good pics show the route well. It is a blast.

And Darin, for the third time, that some other is called Golder Bear. And don't forget what the sign said: it's Awesome!

Front Range gems...
09/14/2011 03:41
@d_baker: The descent off of Golden Bear via Lift 8 was pretty slick. By my account, we found a ski, a cellphone, the faceplate of a getoblaster... but no dinero and no drogas. I felt like one of those guys you see at the beach with the white velcro tennies, black dress socks, tinted bifocals circa '85 and metal detector in hand.

@kimo: That day was ”awesome”. Nothing like finishing a hike by walking under I-70. I remember the highway noise and darkness of the tunnel and silhouettes and for a moment I felt like I was in a rock n' roll band. And then there was the flipped tanker on Loveland Pass and the smell of diesel and our humorous conversation with the state trooper... 8)

True Summit
09/14/2011 14:05
False summit is more fun can you can get an interesting, small mandatory air summit ski descent. I imagine you might be able to on the real summit, but it looks intimidating.

Nice outing so close to I-70.

09/14/2011 15:34
That's a perfect shot of the class 4 chimney on to the false summit, and a good one of the knife edge, too.
This is a Front Range Classic.
KevinK and I did these (+Golden Bear) from Loveland a few weeks ago and found ourselves wondering how we'd left such an awesome, convenient scramble off our itinerary for so long.
We also took the lift 8 descent and tunnel back to the car, but weren't lucky enough to find a ski.

Wow, thanks everyone!
09/14/2011 17:34
The Citadel has been on my short list since I saw it from my first 13er back in 2008. I bet Darrin will be glad to not hear about it all the time now!

Presto - Darrin either makes a serious face or something silly, so we may just have to deal with the serious

Jay521 & roguejackalope - The list of fun peaks and routes is ever expanding always! Glad to help out

USAKeller - And to think, you could have gone if it wasn't for that OT CU football game! Hope that was fun!

KeithK - I saw dudes and dudettes with fishing poles. Not necessarily any fish

49ersRule, d_baker, kimo, Papillon, lordhelmut, Matt - A Gem of a peak, that I am glad to have finally viewed up close. I can see myself going back from time to time for the others and for repeats. I'm saving Golden Bear for a ski sometime. It looks like it would be a nice mellow day out. I wanted to try the Loveland ski tunnel when I was there last, but it was before I had my CO ski legs/guts back in 2008.

Some of the best the front range has to offer
07/29/2013 18:29
Hagar and Citadel are some of the best front range 13ers, for sure.

I tackled the east summit the same way you did, via that chimney.
Both summits on the Citadel have their merits, view-wise.

Great report and photos as usual.

Great read!
12/02/2014 20:22
Awesome narrative, thanks! And really good photos to boot.

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