Peak(s):  Parnassus, Mt  -  13,574 feet
Date Posted:  02/14/2012
Date Climbed:   02/11/2012
Author:  billdawg
 Not quite there   

After being bitten by the climbing bug a couple years ago, & successfully climbing Mt Shavano & coming oh so close on Belford, I decided to try my first solo, winter trip.
The wife, kids, & I came out and staye din Frisco, so they could ski Copper & Loveland.
So Sat. I dropped them off at Loveland and drove down I-70 to the next exit and parked at the Herman Gulch TH.
I got a littler later start than I wanted due to dropping them off, but was in my snow shoes and geared up and on the trail at approx. 0845.
I was a little unsure, as the only trip report I ever found on Parnassus wasn't even a true report, and it was 5 years old. About the only helpful advice I gleaned from the things I found was get on the Watrous Trail,and that there was avalanche danger in the winter.
So, anyway, I started up Herman Gulch, and found the snow somewhat packed, and I almost, thought about not taking my 'shoes. I hiked east on the trail and found the Herman Gulch/Watrous split. Well, good thing I had the snowshoes after all, because other than some animals, and a very faint indication of where the trail was, it was fairly snow covered.
Other than breaking trail, it was fairly even going, and not too bad of a climb, even for a flatlander from NEB, that hates that there's no oxygen, ha. As I progressed, past 10,500+', the trail was becoming sketchier and sketchier to see/find. There was basically some indications and I used common sense to keep climbing.
It was a beautiful day, and I took my time to enjoy the views, and the awesome solitude. Once I got around the corner of the mountain, away from I-70, it was if I was the only person on Earth.
The report I had read, said it was 3.5 miles to the peak. I figured 3-4 hours up for me, and 2-3 back down. With the late start, and having to pick up the family by 4ish, I was hoping to make it, but it was going to be close.
Well at 11,250' according to th eGPS, I flat ran out of trail. No indications, no clues, no nothing. The peak, was to my NE still, I was heading due north, with no indications of which way was best. It was now a little after 1100. The peak was across what looked like a snow filled ravine, and from what I could see, there was no discernable trail there either. I thought about exploring a little more, and trying to cast around for the trail, and if I hadn't been alone, I would have. But with time being a consideration, I headed back down. All in all, it was a great day, and I got some good time outside. I'll be back in 2 weeks to do Boreas with my oldest son

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Comments or Questions

Welcome to 13ers!
02/14/2012 22:10
You'd be lucky to find a ”trail.”


You won't find a trail (aka bootpacked path)..
02/14/2012 22:33
...on most peaks in the winter. And I'm not sure where you only found 1 TR... there are a plethora of them for this peak on this site.


02/14/2012 23:55
We don't need no stinkn' trail.

There is no trail up Parnassus, even in the summer. The route goes up Watrous Gulch to near T-line, then hang a right and up to the saddle between Woods Mt and Parnassus.


Another option ...
02/17/2012 15:56
The only way we've done that peaks is to leave from the Bakerville exit, parking, and heading up the peaks (Parnassus, Bard, Robeson, Englemann). No trail. In the winter, there's some wallowing in the beginning.


a lot of the 13ers ...
02/17/2012 22:21
require some route-finding skills and some study. I did Parnassus in the summer and it was a GREAT day! I parked at the exit 218 lot and hiked up to the saddle between Woods and Parnassus. Pretty straight-forward, but there is no trail above treeline. I descended from the saddle down into the basin between Parnassus and Bard and I'll tell you, that was about the most solitude I have ever experience on trail that close to Denver. Great hike! Better luck next time!

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