Peak(s):  Pk W - 12,775 feet
Date Posted:  06/07/2012
Modified:  05/18/2013
Date Climbed:   06/03/2012
Author:  d_baker
 W is for Wicked  

W is for Wicked....

(Photo by Kimo)

Hikers: Kimo (a.k.a., My Personal Photographer) and Darin

“Peak W” (12,775’)
Gore Range


Trailhead: Pitkin Lake
Route: S face
Distance: ~10.5mi’s RT
Elevation Gain: ~4300’
Difficulty: Class 2 (Although we did find some class 3 & 4 rock to play on)

(Photo by Kimo)

Gear: daypack w/Essentials, ice axe, crampons, helmet (we had planned on snow and a different peak, but changed objectives while on the hike, therefore it became “non-technical”)

Resources Used For Trip Planning: memory (prior knowledge of area); recon from the week before; TOPO! mapping software; NOAA weather forecast


After climbing “Peak C” on Saturday, I had a text message waiting for me from Kimo. He wants to get out on Sunday. Cool! I was thinking about going up the Pitkin Creek drainage to see about an X. He’s game for Gore. Little did he or I know that X would not mark the spot; but instead we would get wicked.

A Little Bit of Gore History

In 1932, the start of the nomenclature lettered system for peaks in the Gore Range began. It happened while on a trip that Carl Erickson and Edmund Cooper were on together. During the trip, they logged the first known ascent of “Peak C” and later devised the first 15 lettered peaks (A – O) that surround the Black Creek Valley.

A year later, peaks in the Slate Creek drainage were appointed the next set of letters in the alphabet, P – T. It would be another 33 years before the rest of the alphabet was applied to some of the remaining peaks in the Gore.

This came about prior to a CMC (Colorado Mountain Club) wilderness trip. In the Trail & Timberline magazine (published by the CMC), William Mounsey wrote, “Logically the lettering system could be extended to include the peaks around the head of the main Slate Creek, and the alphabet would last just long enough to get the job done.” (Kramarsic, pg 116)

Thus, U – Z were given to the next set of peaks along the main spine of the Gore. Peaks’ U and V are most commonly known as West Partner and East Partner (respectively).

“Peak W” sits just to the NE of E Partner (“Peak V”).

(Source: Joe Kramarsic’s, Mountaineering in the Gore Range: A Record of Explorations, Climbs, Routes, and Names)

The Approach

Kimo and I put tread to trail sometime around 6:30am. The original goal was “Peak X” which would entail ascending Usable Pass, and doing a descending traverse on the E side of the pass in order to gain the S/SW ridge of “Peak X.”

Sometime during the hike, I mentioned to Kimo that I was contemplating going for “Peak W” instead, if he was ok with the change in plans. Kimo is an easy going guy, and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy hiking with him.

Another reason is because of his photography skills….
(Photo by Kimo)

(Photo by Kimo)

Hiking along the quite dry Pitkin Lake Trail

Breaking treeline, and finding mostly firm snow to travel on

Our new objective comes into view
(Photo by Kimo)

“Peak W” is left of center in the above photo. We could see several possibilities to get through the cliff bands. For our ascent, we went through the lower angle rock walls in the center of the above photo.

In the next photo, our descent route can be seen directly below the obvious rock face that’s right of center. By using that route, the difficulty can be kept at class 2+ quite easily.


But why keep things easy? There’s some rock scrambling available!


(Photo by Kimo)

Once beyond the willowy rock scrambling gullies and ledges, we were on snow and on our way to the south face of “W.”


Me with “Vista Point” behind me

The Ascent

Kimo approaches the south face of “Peak W”

Steep tundra hiking
(Photo by Kimo)

Another great day, Partner

Topping out on the ridge, the view over to E Partner was wicked! As were the views to the NE and SE.

I believe these round out the alphabet (X, Y, & Z)
(Photo by Kimo)

I was excited about the summit, because I knew the views were about to open up to the rest of the Gore, or most of it anyway.
My expectations were met. The weather was pretty sweet too.

East to West, baby

The eastern/southeastern part of this wicked range

spot Darin

E Partner and Friend

Potentially your own Personal Photographer, just send him a pm

C is for Clouds (oops, wrong TR)


“L” fell over in the right place

Nearly an hour on the summit – most of the time in a t-shirt! Oh, how I love 12ers! (Yup, I did say that.)

Ahhh, but it's time to go.

Reflections on a Beautiful Day
(Photo by Kimo)

Life is about balance
...even if you're a rock!

Where the Water Takes Me
(Photo by Kimo)

Thanks for reading,

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Cool stuff!
06/07/2012 20:31
You're getting some good peaks in. Must be prep for the awesome, rugged gems of Texas.

Also, that is not what I expected Kimo to look like. I was thinking more a cross between a sumo wrestler and a stereotypical ukulele-playing Hawaiian.


Peak X
06/07/2012 20:40
You'll need to go back before you head south. It's a great summit. Nice TR again Darin and 1 I'll add to my notes as I'd like to get all the Gore Alphas someday. Safe travels and lets get another Huron-esque gathering upon your return - just next time on something more interesting than Huron.


Heading South
06/07/2012 20:55
Scot, I leave for Ft Worth(less) on Saturday. No time for X. It will be there when I get back!
I want to finish the alphabet too, so we'll definitely have to connect for some of those, as well as other peaks.

Thanks for the comments.


Nice work dudes
06/08/2012 01:54
Always good to keep plans flexible.

Darin, you’ll have that whole darn Gore alphabet under your belt in no time at this pace. Having the personal photographer certainly paid off on this trip (love image #5!) although your own photos are fantastic as well.

Monster: I do hear Kimo plays a mean ukelele. 8)


W is for ”Whoa!”
06/07/2012 21:12
At least that was my reaction to the first pic.
Great shots, Kimo.
Way to Whet my appetite for some Gore, Darin.
Scot, there's no more debate about that weekend from me.


Opulent orange...
06/07/2012 21:13
Is that the Spot with the special limited edition orange paint that comes from the skin of some poisonous blow-dart jungle lizard on the other side of the world? Hence, the $80 mark up?

Always good to see a Kimo cameo in the high country too. That first photo is ”B.A.” - Bad. Ass.

I agree with Floyd regarding getting the Huron group back together, preferably not in a shitstorm either. Maybe we could entice Helmut to make an appearance too.


Wicked nice guy
06/07/2012 23:24
Go Celtics


06/08/2012 14:32
Seems like you guys had a lot of time to take photos, I mean you barlyyyyyy got out of treeline. hahaha just messin, great photos!!

Looks like theres some good lines on East partner's North face...snow had good firmness?


Hi Darin
06/09/2012 02:55
Hi Darin, have you been to the Slate Lake/American Lake area yet? If not, let’s find a few takers and head up there this summer. I’m fairly certain you will enjoy the area. My July is full however I saved all of August to revisit my favorite Gore mountains. Let me know if interested.

I’m especially interested in a sunrise summit photo opportunity up on Peak R. It’s the best view in the Gores in my opinion. I’ll likely do Peak L again too because I remember it to be my favorite mountain in Colorado. Ya’ll can have fun on Q. I just like taking pictures of Q.

Craig Cook

06/09/2012 04:52
Another great TR, as usual, Darin.


It's the real deal
06/09/2012 12:56
Darin, great write-up, filled with laughs. Almost as good as being there. Almost. Thanks for putting the story together and making it fun.

Monsta, shoots brah, fo' real? I just look thin in the black. I'm really 380 lb, play a mean ukulele, eat fish and poi, and run on Hawaiian time (20 minutes late for everything). My partners hate me.

Floyd, that is a fine idea. Let's get the Huron Gang back together and have some fun in the sun somewhere super cool this summer.

Matt, Papi, Woody - thanks for the kind words on the pics but those crazy mountains made me do it. And I agree Woody, I'm always impressed with the pics that Darin takes using that little HP point and shoot. HP doesn't even make cameras. It's Darin, and not the camera, making those shots.

And Anna, Peak W is not just a 12er, it is an unranked 12er. Yes, d_baker is seeking out unranked obscurities. The Gore is a strange attraction.

Fire, we crossed low angle SW-S-SE aspects, all a bit soft, with some deep postholing at the edges. It's going fast. Only took 300 photos that day - a light photo day compared to typical. We spent a lot of time lounging. Summitlounger has been a terrific influence on both of us.

And Kane, your work (esp the photography) has been an inspiration to me for the past few years. Your SP contributions are helping me explore the IPW. And now as I venture deeper into the Gore, your Gore write-ups are helping to make sense of the trails, ridges, and drainages of the region. I'd get in on a trip in August.


summer plans in Gore
06/10/2012 02:59
Kane, I would love to put a trip together to go in there! But, I have no idea where I'll be. I'm in Texas now, and from here I don't know where I'll go!
But I'll definitely keep it mind and get back to you and make a trip happen someday!

Thanks again for the comments everyone!

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