Peak(s):  "Pk X"  -  13,085 feet
"Pk Z"  -  13,245 feet
6930 - 0 feet
"Solitude, Mt"  -  13,090 feet
"Climber`s Point"  -  13,005 feet
Date Posted:  07/17/2012
Modified:  10/08/2012
Date Climbed:   07/14/2012
Author:  lordhelmut
 Ridge Runs in the Gores   

Sunrise over the Gores

Boulder Lakes 13ers (from Pitkin) :

Pk.X (13,085)
Pk.Y (12,980)
Pk.Z (13,245)
Pk.Z-prime"time" (12,981)
Climber's Point (13,005)
Mount Solitude (13,090)
Vista Point (13,075)

Climbers : D Baker, Mtnfiend, Lordhelmut and Rijaca (day 2)

Solid weekend in the Gores. The forecast on NOAA looked pretty abysmal, but then again, monsoon season is upon us in Colorado, so nothing really to get worked up over. Darin has been in Texas, working out in the hot sun against his will, deprived of his peak bagging. Fortunately, he was able to get his checkbox fix in the Eagles Nest Wilderness outside Vail, Colorado, so hopefully that will hold him over for a couple of weeks, months, years, etc.

Speaking of checkboxes, hows this? :

Ice Lakes Basin plans fall through after 2 months of planning at last minute : Check

I talk Rick in to hitting the Gores as a Plan B on Friday morning : Check

I meet Rick at his house 7 minutes late, despite Friday traffic, bags fully packed : Check

Jimmy Johns : Check

Find Darin in Pitkin Creek : Check

Happy Campers : Check (in more ways than one!)

Isn't it just great when plan B's go this smoothly? I'd like to think so. That's why the Gores are so amazing. Not only do they offer a plethora of plan A's, but they provide a close, bang for your buck, plan B. Its like the Cal Ripken Range, you can always count on them to deliver, and in this case, rain or shine.

Anyways, with regards to the weather, I could only help but think of a famous Blazing Saddles quote.

"Weathermen? We don't need no stinkin' weathermen!"

With that being said, the overcast skies and light drizzles Rick and I experienced on the approach were much welcomed. We found Darin around 9:30pm, just as we donned headlamps and pitched camp, making home for the next 48 hours.

With a high percentage of t-storms, we woke up at 3:45am, and hit the trail around 4:50am. We experienced sun for the majority of the morning and were treated to views like this :

Vista "Pinnacle" alpenglow

Our destination for this morning was "Usable Pass", between Peak W and "Vista Peak". Jon Bradford's Summitpost page does an excellent job of describing this region in detail and the origins of the naming of "Usable Pass" is unknown, at least to me. The mysterious "Ormes Atlas" seems to hold the key to a lot of answers in the Gores. To quote Jon "The process of educating one's self about these mountains is quite rewarding. Hand label your maps". This couldn't be more true. My Trails Illustrated "Vail, Frisco, Dillon" map, which contains a solid 85-90% of the range, is weathered and littered with labels. I don't even want to think about how awful that would be if I lost it.

We chose this approach due to time constraints and schedules. Darin was planning to meet Nancy (Sunny1) and Ricky (Rijaca) Sunday morning and Rick and I had 2 full days to work with. Boulder Creek is a drainage none of us had explored, but it's a logistical headache and much longer. While I often have vivid dreams about the utopian landscape that are the drainages of the Eastern Gores, and I view these areas in the same regard as places such as the Weminuche, I realize there is a time and place for them. Last minute, 2 day plans are not one of them. Anyways, it's a place to explore in the future.

Back to "Usable Pass". Mike Rodenack (Chicago transplant) and Scot Osbourne (Floyd) had suggested this as a viable alternative to Boulder Creek and raved about the views from Pk.X. We were all very excited for the view and it certainly did not disappoint.

Peak X from Usable Pass

When you climb in a range long enough, specially one as small as the Gores, you have the tendency to become complacent with the amazing things around you. I'd like to think that wasn't the case for me personally, but even if it was, the X/Y/Z ridgeline revived any emotions I had buried deep down. I could tell Darin was enjoying himself and Rick was just eating up the scrambling.

The views along the way were otherworldly, even for the Gores. I wish my diction could do these peaks justice, but I was a history major, so I'll just let the next 2 shots do all the talking :

Slate Creek group in the morning

Closeup of Peak Q

Darin beginning the X/Y/Z ridge

We reached the summit of Peak X around 8am, a little over 3 hours from setting off. The views were sublime and the summit register was brand spanking new. Joe Kramarsic refers to X as one of the most remote peaks in the range, unfortunately it didn't feel that way, since we approached it from Pitkin, but we were able to find that sense of solitude on Peak Z later in the day.

When viewing the X/Y/Z ridge from the South, mainly from Keller, the obvious obstacle appears to be the descent off X towards Y. Luckily, we found a weakness in the northern slopes around the slabs that make up the east face of the peak.

descent off X

The aesthetics of the ridge began immediately. The scrambling was never too difficult, the exposure never too intense and the route finding never too complicated, but when you group the above average-ness of them all together, you have yourself one damn fine Gore ridge run.

looking back on X

Rick and the Partners

"F**king Quintana, that creep can roll man" (Rick showing how its done)

After we crested Peak Y, which is nothing more than a mid-sized hump along the ridge, we were stopped dead in our tracks at a prominent tower, just above an obvious notch with Peak Z's westerly grass/talus slopes. We descended around 200 feet to climber's right, making some stout, 4th class moves to a talus field below. Just be sure now to kick rocks down at this section.

Looking back on impassable notch in ridge

This was the only section of the day where we had inherent dangers, but easily avoidable. We easily regained the vertical back to the saddle and then slogged up to the summit of Peak Z, with a few sections of easy class 3, unexposed sections to boot.

approaching Z's summit

We reached the summit of Z around 10:15am or so and took a nice long break. The sense of solitude was ever greater than X and the views of the Northern Gores could bring the hardest of the hard to tears. It's comical to compare the view from the summit of Vestal to just about anything in the state of Colorado, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Z is a worthy adversary. The Gore is the Weminuche's long lost forgotten cousin anyway.

Now the real fun began. It was time for Pk.Z "prime". I hate to step on the toes of those that have come before me, but this peak shall now be referred to as Pk Z Prime"time" or "Deion Sanders Peak". This goes against the very essence of the reclusive Gores, As Mr. Sanders was a loud mouth, punk ass, Florida St Alum who probably majored in impregnating women, but it just stuck. Just as Deion felt he deserved a salary that equaled a QB's, Z-Prime probably feels it deserves just as much respect and attention as its larger, ranked neighbor. We felt like multi-sport athletes, scaling the knife edge that is Z-prime. This peak was flat out fun.

"Deion Sanders Peak"

Knife Edgy

Long way down

It was approaching noon and storms were starting to enclose on our location. We descended the talus slopes of the Z group to the Upper Boulder drainage, threw on our rain shells and made way for "Usable Pass". Around 1pm, the rain really started to pick up and the thunder was getting close. Lucky for us, after refilling on liquids at a fine high alpine lake, we were fortunate enough to find a perfectly placed alcove in the cliff bands to wait out the storm.

We placed our poles a couple yards away to be safe and then lounged for a solid 35-40 minutes, waiting out the storm.

Storm a comin'

really cool lake in Upper Boulder

"Casper Snowfield"

Waitin out the storm

the alcove

I had my ipod touch with me in my pack, so we listened to some Jethro Tull, which fit the mood perfectly, as the weather rolled through. The thunder never really threatened and the rain subsided long enough for us to make a run for "Usable Pass". After a brief talus traverse, we reached the base of the scree covered pass, traversed a quick snow slope and were munching on the remainder of our snacks at the pass proper in no time.

regaining Usable Pass

The descent went smoothly and we were able to scout out a descent option from Solitude for Sunday before making our way back to camp.

Home sweet home

After a quick nap and tortolini meal (w/ grated parmesean and srachi sauce), we waited out the rain and then reconvened at camp, reminiscing the day. It was refreshing to see the excitement on Rick's face, being a recent Gore convert. The excitement of the range was apparent and we spent the remainder of the evening talking about future endeavors, past adventures and how fortunate we were to be there.

An eerie mist combed through the basin before the sun went down and not too much later, the rain brought the pain. My newly acquired REI ASL 3-man tent deflected the moisture admirably and we slept in dry comfort for the remainder of the evening. Word to the wise. Anyone looking for a solid sleeping pad, be sure to check out the Big Agnes Q-Core. It's the first pad that actually rivals a mattress at home and weighs in at a feather light 23 ounces. Easily, the best inflatable pad I've ever owned.

Alarm went off later on Sunday, 6am. We descended the trail to the 2nd waterfall crossing along the trail to meet Nancy and Ricky. They showed up around 7:30am. Nancy wasn't feeling it on this day and decided to take a hike to the lake, while Ricky rounded out the group to 4 and we were off.

The ascent goes up a large, obvious gulley between Skiers Point and Climbers Point. It goes on forever. With Ricky joining the group dynamic, conversations were revived with tales of adventure throughout the state of Colorado, as well as epics on Gannett Peak and beyond. It's always refreshing to hear perspectives from fellow adventurers, at the very least, it keeps your mind occupied and not so focused on the slog at hand.

The views of the surrounding peaks were unique :

Spider and Fly

Ridge to Climber's Pt

We all reached "Climber's Point" soon enough and enjoyed views down in to Boulder Drainage and the peaks to the South. The snowfield on the north face serves as the headwaters for Boulder Creek and the naming of the unranked peak was listed, yet again, on Robert Ormes "Tenmile Atlas" (I really need to add that to the never ending collection of maps).

The traverse over to Mount Solitude was straightforward, with some serious cliffs to our right.

massive cliff

But the climb to the summit was nothing more than a walk up and Ricky and Darin were awaiting Rick and my arrival.

Ricky and Darin on Solitude

We really took our time on Solitude. With the weekend coming to a close, it was a nice ending to an already solid weekend of ridge runs and luck with the weather. I ate the rest of my Amish Swiss cheese and salami, while Ricky and Darin shared their almonds and Stacks Salt n' Vinegar chips respectively (Lays Stacks are sold primarily at Walmart I found out from Darin. This is exciting because Stacks hold up better than Pringles and have a more powerful taste for the backcountry).

Darin and the Gore IMAX

We finished off with a little icing on the cake on "Vista Peak" which made perfect sense since our descent route came directly off its Western slopes.

descending Vista

And what is a Gore report without a Peak Q close up to round out the tale.....

one scary peak

The descent went flawlessly, sans Rick accidently kicking down a fridge sized rock at Ricky and Darin. We arrived at camp, broke down quickly and made the quick trek back to the cars. We all shared a meal at Lost Cajun in Frisco (home to some of the best gumbo in Colorado) and then parted ways. Rick and I decided to take 285 home, due to the 3.5 hour drive time posted at Copper Mountain (took us 1hr and 50 min from Breck to Golden).

Gores delivered again, I guess that this must be the place.....

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

Prime time peak!
07/18/2012 04:24
Classic! As usual, awesome TR Brian. You guys gotta drag me out there some day soon. I too look forward to being a future Gore convert someday

Solid effort and looks like an awesome weekend.


07/18/2012 05:59
You're looking seriously wired in picture #20 but this TR reads like the Gores did you right. I really need to stop being that guy that just views these peaks from a car window and starts experiencing the Gore alphabet of Peak names by foot. Thanks for the entertaining and inspiring TR. Bonus points for another plan B in bypassing the front range horde traffic on I-70.


07/18/2012 13:33
Just awesome Brian. And nice job to everyone. Can't wait to get into the Gores. What happened to Ice Lakes? Don't tell me you're waiting until I can join! Oh wait, please tell me that! ;)


More Powerful than Pringles??
07/18/2012 13:54
I'm skeptical dude, or maybe just in denial, but Lays can go suck it! Despite ILB plans falling through, it's good to see you all had a good weekend. Thanks for another obscure Gore TR. They can be quite refreshing around these parts this time of year.

P.s. Rick kinda looks like Rick Garcia in your Blazing Saddles shot. Just picture Rick with a Mexican stash and I right?


07/18/2012 14:00
Dave - Thanks man, but I shouldn't have to drag you.

Tom - haha. Bypassing I-70 was the biggest feat of the weekend

Caroline - Ice Lakes will be there. Think with snow....

Ben - If you don't want to take my word, go try for yourself before you tell them to suck it. I'm tellin' you. And re: Rick. With a thick enough stash, he could pass for any of those guys in the Blazing Saddles shot.


Rock on, Brian
07/18/2012 14:06
Looks like really nice peaks there and Prime Time looks wonderful. I need to venture over in that area at some point. As I was climbing The Royal Flush above Frisco Sat am, I was curious if you guys were 10 or so miles north of me baggin' some obscure peaks. Well done, dude.


Best Gumbo
07/18/2012 14:07
You never had my gumbo yet, ask Ricky! Nice Gore Blowout, whenever I do something hard, I always inevitably compare it to a Gore climb. Thanks for reminding me of what I'm missing.


A truly spendid day
07/18/2012 14:17
It was a real treat for a relative Gore newbie like myself to have all the various Gore peaks identified/described by Brian and Darin. Lots to do back in there!

And I gotta go with Beau's gumbo....


Bungle in the Jungle
07/18/2012 15:14
Helmut, your love for the Gores has honestly rubbed off onto me. Was there Saturday, flying solo over the Grand Traverse all the way to Snow and was descending to Deluge Lake when the rain picked up. F'ing love the Gores, so beautiful!

Solid work fellas!

PS wait for ice lakes with snow


07/18/2012 15:17
Brandon - Is Royal Flush bolted now? It looks really cool. I certainly was 10 miles to the North, you know where to find me.

Boudreaux - I'll have to try this infamous gumbo. you are right, Gores are hard.

Ricky - good to finally get out with you man, good times, looking foward to the next scramblefest.

49ersRule - Glad my TR sparked a flame in you, you pretty much nailed it with regards to enjoying yourself and the company. I took no offense to your Vestal comment, just be sure to ascend the Wham (not descend). How you get off that mountain is completely up to you.

Fire - Funny you mention Bungle, because the Gores can be so lush, we made note of its jungle-like vegetation and lushness. Grand to Snow is a huge day my friend, is a TR in the works? I thought those kind of days were reserved for the Furthermore's of the world, nice job!


Pringles > Stax
07/18/2012 15:21
There is a reason they put the Stax on the bottom shelf at my grocery store, right next to the 5 lb bag of candy corn and the bit o' honeys. Just sayin'...

Nice climb with nicer people. I thought Senor Rick always makes his appearances in The Gore?

Chicago Transplant

What, no hair metal?
07/18/2012 15:25
That XYZ ridge is one of my favorites in the Gore. I missed out on ”Prime Time” so I guess I have do a repeat, aw shucks. 8)

Was surprised the bad 80's hair metal of XYZ didn't make an appearance, but then again something as good as the Gore shouldn't be tainted by that crap...


The Flush
07/18/2012 15:32
Brian, yeah buddy, its bolted. No cams, nuts, hexes whatsoever. 10 draws and you're good. Its such a fun cruise man. Highly recommended.


07/18/2012 15:44
Great report. You hit it all with this one ... sports trivia (Cal and Deion), acting like Roach (renaming peaks) 8) , food reviews (on the chips), bashing stinking weather forecasters (couldn't agree with you more ... anyone else that made as many mistakes as they do would be fired from their job), gear reviews (I'll have to look into Big A), creating your own personal mapquest (I'm that way with my Weminuche Trails Illustrated), and valuable beta for future climbs. I was sorta surprised you weren't listening to ”Riding the Storm Out” under the alcove. Sounds like you had a great group there ... thanks for posting. Happy trails!


Thanks again
07/18/2012 16:07
Kevin - Lays has Pringles beat in the durability department. And Bit O'honey's are solid, when not frozen. There is more to life than Jalepeno Cheezums buddy. Senor Rick is damn near close to an enthusiast

Mike - I figured Deion Sanders and his 80's jerry curls was enough hair references, not 80's hair metal taint. Thanks for the recommendation.

Presto - I really appreciate your comments time and time again. Thanks for reading the report and pinpointing whatever you think are the highlights, makes it all the more worthwhile and full filling knowing others are getting something out of it. This is what the comments section should be all about, back and forth banter, Q&A and some food for thought, both literally and figutively. Thanks again.

JB - chance has it I'll be doing some sport routes in the Summit area this saturday, I might have to check this one out. Thanks for the recommendation.


Face Down in The Gutter Traverse
07/18/2012 16:10
Like Mike said, ”Where's the hair metal?” Also, thanks for bringing up all sorts of bad memories of the south side of Q. I needed some added frustration this morning. Appreciate the name drop though!

Awesome trip fellas. Way to get after it.


07/18/2012 17:07



Putting the pieces back together
07/18/2012 17:16
Ice Lakes can wait. This looks pretty bad ass.
This was lots of fun to read.
Lost Cajun can't be beat while in Summmit. Thanks for the intro.
You do look pretty wired. See any Shark Attacks?
I guess the knee's 100% Ricky?
P.S. Nice one, Ben


07/18/2012 21:14
.....that Rick didn't wear that sombrero on our outing. Next time.
Great days, guys! Thanks goes out to Helmut's partners that bailed on him & Ice Lakes. It made my weekend.


07/18/2012 22:07
”There is more to life than Jalepeno Cheezums buddy.”

Thanks for this comment. Maybe it will steer Kevin away from these beyond-vile abominations that have recently come on the scene since he started his quest to sample all the flavors.

And no, that's not all I liked about this report. I laughed the whole way through... one of your best. Looks like a sweet trip with a great crew of dudes.

Image #20: Nerd rage?


great report as usual
07/19/2012 13:45
looking forward to more Gore and this will help, thanks Brian

food, drink and peaks a great combo, that would be supersized

Darin you seem to be getting more peaks since you went to Texas than before


Great Report Helmut!!
07/19/2012 14:02
A fun weekend for sure. Darin and Ricky it was fun climbing with you guys. Let's do it again some time soon!!

Ben, I don't see the resemblance you're talking about.....

Kevin Baker

another classic Gore traverse
07/19/2012 18:32
We're letting out too many secrets about the Gores, Brian! They will soon be infiltrated with 14er baggers. LOL. Awesome report, Brian. I was in the area as well on Sat. That X to Z traverse is a nice one indeed. Thanks for bringing back the memories.


Thanks for this report
07/29/2013 18:29
It really got me thinking about what is great about the mountains. Getting out there and enjoying what you really love to do with a bunch of fun people.

Keep preaching the gospel of the Gores! Gotta love the convenience and fantastic scrambling possibilities out there.

Also, I've got a weird sense of humor. Hope there was no offense taken on my Vestal comment in the Lists thread. I really do hope to visit Arrow/Vestal sometime.

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