Peak(s):  Broken Hill  -  13,256 feet
Coney Benchmark  -  13,334 feet
Unnamed 13158  -  13,158 feet
Unnamed 13106  -  13,106 feet
Unnamed 13091  -  13,091 feet
Date Posted:  05/30/2012
Modified:  06/12/2012
Date Climbed:   05/28/2012
Author:  Papillon
 Ride Like the Wind   

Breezy Scenes above Lake City

A three day weekend and we weren't going to spend it in the city dodging flat-screen sales or watching Dorf on Golf from the confines of our air-conditioned nightmare apartment, so we hit the road Friday afternoon and made our way to Lake City. Big winds were in the forecast but we had a lot of 13er options to choose from. I scripted our days to maximize our chances of success and, after securing our favorite top-secret free camping spot along Lake San Cristobal Road, we eased into the weekend with a large fire, some JJs for dinner, and a hefty supply of Colorado IPAs. "Ohh, yes yes yes..."(1)

Saturday May 26
Coney Benchmark
UN 13260
12.5 miles and 4330 vert (from bottom of Wager Gulch Road)

We walked up Coney Benchmark and UN 13260, got absolutely brutalized by the winds, and walked down. These are accessed from the Carson townsite along the Wager Gulch Road. The road has been improved since last year and dispersed camping can be had along the way. We were able to bail off of the Coney BM-13260 saddle and dropped right down to the townsite, where we escaped the winds and checked out the histories etched into the walls of the buildings.

Coney Benchmark

Carson townsite

Visitors leave their marks. I wonder how many are still alive and if they remember the day they came to Carson?

Keith Spencer living great days back in '82.

As Floyd would say, let's move on.

We hit the Restless Spirits Saloon for dinner and were disappointed to find out they had completely changed their menu. Gone were the burgers and turkey sandwiches with wasabi. Gone were the cigar-sized mozzarella logs and the Modus too. WTF? The only options you have now are pizza, calzones and nachos.

I can't endorse this for reasons soon to become apparent.

Sunday May 27
UN 13158
UN 13106
UN 13091
12.9 miles and 4660 vert

After a chilly night just below the first creek crossing on Nellie Creek Road, I emerged from my slumber, took two steps outside the car and had to Usain Bolt it into the trees because of that damn pizza. The only thing I remember is my stomach lurching and watching my life flash before my eyes. And it is too bad we don't have video footage to share because I evidently high-hurdled several decaying logs and two deer in my down booties. No BS.

Wooderson: Having problems?
Papillon (breathless): Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.

We hoofed the two miles of the road to the upper trailhead, picked up the trail to Uncompahgre and entered the basin. Our first objective was UN 13158 which shares a connecting ridge with The Big U. There are several towers along the ridge and I'm not sure how well it would go coming directly down Uncompahgre. I believe most people drop elevation to around 12,400 feet and skirt the messiness.

UN 13158

We climbed talus to the ridge where we encountered a twelve foot section of steep snow. I got out the axe and kicked a ladder up for Sarah. The winds were still hanging around so we didn't linger. The southwest side of the summit ridge is class 2 and a little loose. There is even a mini catwalk (ten feet) near the summit if you want it. Views from this perch are pretty unreal.

Looking up from the saddle.

Approaching the summit.

Views yes, winds no!

There was no pen in the register which was placed in '93 so we couldn't sign our names. But somebody is trying to rename this peak "Noncompahgre" for some unknown reason. All I can say is, please please stop.

We returned to the ridge, downclimbed the snow and crossed the basin back to the Uncompahgre trail where we sized up objective #2 of the day. Pretty slick.

UN 13106

We hopped on the Big Blue Trail here which gently took us up steep grass in a series of undulating switchbacks to the base of UN 13106.

"Hey hey. You got me rocking now."(2)

From here it was class 2 and steady winds. We still had work to do so we didn't linger and made our way off the blocky summit toward our final objective UN 13091.

UN 13091 from UN 13106

There was a snowfield I could not see the bottom of blocking our descent so we backtracked a bit and finally found dry ground. Then we moved in a northeast direction to avoid some serious cliffs and dropped all the way down to 12,500 feet.

Snow and cliffs. This felt like bear territory to me so I kept my eyes peeled.

At this stage, the wind started taking its toll on our energy levels. All of that constant and forced balancing is taxing on the thighs. Luckily, I brought a sleeve of pringles and this seemed to snap us out of our funk. We passed many impressive cairns along the way to UN 13091. They seemed almost geometrically perfect.

Somebody had a lot of time on his/her hands.

The descent off of UN 13091 got interesting. It seemed like we were cliffed out. There were also some snowfields and the thought of downclimbing these made me feel a little queasy. Some big cairns led us in a northwest direction and we dropped a few hundred feet on tedious talus. Here we encountered a snowfield that looked like it ran all the way down to China. We got out the axes and did an ascending traverse for maybe thirty yards and navigated the southeast side of UN 13091. A few more rock hops and we were down on the saddle.

Weird-o-rama on the horizon...

Looking back, it appears we had a small exit from the summit, a weakness in the cliffs. I'm not sure how loose it would be but I think it would go. Maybe. I guess in my haste to press on, I overlooked it.

Back at the saddle we encountered some wild rock formations and the ground had a beach feel to it. The only things missing were the umbrellas and the tan lines, the pretty girl smiles and the smell of pina colada sunblock.

"If the doors of perception were cleansed

everything will appear to man as it is,


The winds started pushing 40+ mph here and I tried everything to get it to stop. I plead, I cursed, I even gave the finger to the western skyline - all to no avail. In fact, it seemed to get more belligerent when I flipped it off. So we staggered on and made our descent.

Around 12,000 feet, the wind finally subsided and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll down an old mining road. We passed some ruins along the way - dilapidated cabins, endless rusty cans, shoes and a tinge of despair.

"But if I work all day at the blue sky mine there'll be food on the table tonight."(4)

Everything was going as planned until we got to within about 50 yards of Nellie Creek Road where a stream crossing stopped us cold in our tracks - literally and figuratively.

There was an icy third class log to our left that looked shaky at best. I figured I might be able to get across but if I slipped I would be in a world of shit. I also didn't want Sarah to cross the creek without me checking it for hazards. Sharp rocks, broken bottles, alligator snapping turtles... You see, I'm a gentleman.

So we removed our boots and socks and I chose the shortest line possible even though it had a thick-looking finish (it would turn out to be thorny too - ouch). I got across to the other side and wailed like a wounded rodent for a few moments, then navigated the prickers and got to a spot where I could put my boots back on and drop a couple of f-bombs. Sarah followed minus the wailing and 50 yards later we were back on Nellie Creek Road about a third of a mile above the first stream crossing and just about home.

The stream crossing after the fact. The water level was about calf deep.

Our original plan for the next day was one of the couloirs on American Peak. But I didn't have any beta, didn't want to freeze my ass off up there on Sunday night (the Lake City low was 27 degrees), and also didn't think I'd have the discipline to get up early. I also wanted to have a fire and there was a ban on anything not in a designated fire ring. Jeez, I'm starting to sound like a prima donna.

So we slept again at our top-secret camp site and sampled Deviant, Modus, Dales, and Avery IPAs. Jeez, I'm starting to sound like a lush too.

"Hop Footage" - photo taken March 10, 2012 at Nellie Creek TH.

Monday May 28
Broken Hill
5.7 miles and 3020 vert

We got a leisurely 9:30 AM start from the lower Matterhorn Creek trailhead and quickly hoofed it to the Wetterhorn cutoff trail. From here, we made a hard right and ascended 1500 feet of steep grass. The grass yielded to loose scree for the final 200 feet. Nice.

The grassy grunt.

Point 13052

For the first time all weekend, the winds finally died down and the surrounding views were amazing. We crossed some orange sherbet rock and topped out on Point 13052 which I initally believed to be Broken Hill. But there was nothing about our perch that looked class 5. It didn't even look class 2. Then something menacing caught the corner of my eye. I looked over my right shoulder and saw a wicked looking peak along a connecting ridge.

Broken Hill and a broken spirit.

Wooderson: I think that's it.
Papillon: If that's it, I'm not going.

Hit the bricks, kid...

We looked for a way down to the saddle from Point 13052. I had to downclimb fifteen feet of steep snow that looked icy at the bottom (it wasn't). From there, it looked like the terrain might cliff out so I ran over and took a look. All was well and we made quick work to the base of Broken Hill.

From here, the summit looked formidable. But I knew there was easy access on the other side provided we could get to it. So we grunted up a few hundred feet of loose scree (one final F.U.) and found a ledge which gave us passage to the south side of Broken Hill. From here, it was 100 feet of talus and we topped out.

The Ledge.

If there is a better view from any perch on the Lake City side than there is on Broken Hill, give me a call.

The Views.

The Wooderson.

We snapped photos, exchanged smiles and dropped off of the summit and descended west and then south down to 12,000 feet. From here things looked like they would get pretty steep and narrow if we followed the runoff so we hopped to the north side of the creek, picked up a game trail and made an ever so subtle ascending traverse around the word "Iron" on the topo until we could see the Wetterhorn trail below us.

The 'shwack is on! The 'shwack is on!

Minutes later, we touched down and closed the book on the weekend.

"We're on a road to nowhere."(5)

Until next time...


Special thanks to Furthermore, SarahT, and SuperPolok for their trip reports, and ChicagoTransplant for the recent photos and discussion about UN 13158.

(1)Bukowski, Charles. 1971. Post Office.
(2)The Rolling Stones. 1994. You Got Me Rocking. Voodoo Lounge. Virgin Records.
(3)Blake, William. 1793. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
(4)Midnight Oil. 1990. Blue Sky Mine. Blue Sky Mining. Columbia Records.
(5)Talking Heads. 1985. Road to Nowhere. Little Creatures. Sire Records.

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
We'll take that ride
05/30/2012 19:00
Nice Talking Heads reference at the end their Kevin.

Sounds like there was a restless spirit in your ass after that pizza. Supreme 'za and some IPA's. Yikes......

Unnamed 13,158 ...
05/30/2012 19:24
How does it go from Uncompaghre? Not too well if you don't have a rope ... We tried that, came to a large exposed drop off on the ridge, had to backtrack and attack it from a different angle. Beautiful photos ... still have a few of those to do so thanks for the beta. Love the smiling Wooderson shot (as always). 8) Thanks for posting. Happy trails! (and I'm sure your morning ”expunge” had nothing to do with the fact that the pizza had VEGETABLES on it ).

Image 15
05/30/2012 19:34
Wow. Never seen formations quite like that. What an interesting place, thanks for posting this up!

Glad the weekend worked out for you
05/30/2012 19:50
And I'm quoted to boot... Also glad to see you got some creek crossing practice in. I'm sure we'll make use of it later this summer. Congrats on a great trip.

Chicago Transplant
Nice way to spend a holiday weekend
05/30/2012 20:45
Good weekend for you two! Glad to see some others tough out the wind and cold. Sunday I thought would have been nicer, but it was quite chilly and breezy all day. At least Monday was a good one.

I came over to 13158 from Uncompahgre, realizing the ridge probably wouldn't go I dropped off to the Nellie side and ”skirted the messiness” and back up to the saddle. PS- I had a pencil in my pack, I should have broken it in half and left something in the register

Oh and the Restless Spirits had burgers 3 weeks ago, what the fudge happened? Dang, it was tasty too...

Cool Report
05/30/2012 22:06
Thanks for posting - it was a fun read. It's nice to see TR's on some of the more obscure peaks!

Good weekend
05/30/2012 22:40
You sure know how to tell a story. That pizza looked good until the consequences cropped up.

I tried 13158 from the U last May and found myself in sketchy slide terrain after getting cliffed out.

Chicago Transplant
Restless Spirits
05/30/2012 23:26
From the Restless Spirits webpage:
”NEW!! We are moving the Restless menu over to the ”new” Lake City Cafe located at 310 Gunnison Ave in June. Restless will then be serving pizza and other menu items as well as bar service. Keep in touch for our updates.”
Looks like Lake City Cafe will have the old menu now? One can hope for burgers and turkey with wasabi anyway. Don't know about the Modus...

05/31/2012 00:13
Nicely done you two on a major peak-bag and dealing with that wind! Great TR Kevin.

Kevin Baker
Must have just missed ya
05/31/2012 02:12
I too paid a visit to the Restless Spirit Sat evening, so I must have just missed you guys! Glad I opted for the calazone. Not sure what happened to the menu.

Sounds like you guys had more wind Sunday just a few miles to the south of Coxcomb. I must have been in the Mr. Bluebird halo. Thanks for another visually stimulating report, Kevin. I was cracking up envisioning you crossing the creek and landing in the sticker bush with the F bombs flying. Are you having Little Bear flashbacks?

Dorf on Golf
05/31/2012 02:42
hahaha....that brought me back to the day. Roll one up and enjoy!
The rock formations look trippy. Maybe rolling one isn't enough.
Kids, don't try that at home.
(Disclaimer: I'm not an advocate of rolling much of anything, other than my ass to the mountains.)

Nice report Papi, glad to see The Wooderson make an appearance in a TR. ;)

I need to get out with you guys
05/31/2012 14:28
You have good taste in mountains. And thank you for also bringing up the ridiculousness that is ”Noncompahgre”. Blech. I believe it is a Roach coined phrase, one that hopefully few will adopt.

05/31/2012 14:58
Great read, thank you. What a fun way to spend the long weekend. The Carl Lewis inspired dash into the trees gave one hell of a mental image...

Good Times
05/31/2012 18:59
Thanks for all the comments, everyone. It felt nice revisiting 14er basins of days passed. That is an enjoyable part of the 13er chase.

@Helmut - Any truth to the rumor you have Christopher Cross on your iPod? Whatever I had was certainly restless. Maybe I slept on a voodoo burial ground or something.

@Presto - I've got a sixer of Two Hearted with you and your man's name on it. Hope to see you soon.

@Derek - Definitely a cool saddle. It wouldn't be a bad route if reversed either.

@Floyd - Will be the highlight of my Colorado career. 8)

@Mike - The waiter mentioned a possible move next door. I hope it is sooner rather than later because good eats are hard to find in L.C.

@mountainjam and Ryan - Glad you guys enjoyed it.

@Caroline - Good to see you having fun on the 13ers. 'Bout time you started hanging out with the cool kids... **ducks**

@k_baker - I've witnessed that bluebird effect firsthand. Despite the profanities Little Bear will always be remembered. Let's run some ridges this summer.

@d_baker - You didn't really watch that stuff back in the 80s did you? It was either Dorf on Golf or Benny Hill and I know Bill is trying to keep the site clean so Benny got the axe (cue the music). Look us up when you get back. We need to put the band back together. 8)

@Natalie - Nice work in the basin. We saw your names in the register and thought we might run into you on the way out.

@Ryan - I new it was coming on 158 because of a post you made here. I was able to get a hold of your TR before the site went under. Hopefully we'll cross paths sometime this year.

@Rick - We need to have a beer together at a Gore Range trailhead this summer.

Papi out...

Summit Lounger
It's gonna get harder
06/01/2012 19:45
End of June is coming........

I was wondering
04/02/2015 19:45
If anybody ever climbs those smaller peaks near Unc/Wet. Now I know! Monday weather was nice, wasn't it? We must have passed your car on the way out. This solves one of the mysteries of this weekend

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