Peak(s):  Star Pk A  -  13,521 feet
Taylor Pk A  -  13,435 feet
Crystal Peak - 12777
Point 12,415 - 12415
Date Posted:  09/21/2012
Date Climbed:   09/15/2012
Author:  Furthermore
 Eastern Elk Duo   

Taylor Peak 13,435
Star Peak 13,521
Crystal Peak 12,777
Point 12,415

September 15, 2012
~9.5 Miles, ~5,100 Gain
TH: End of CO 742 start of the Mount Tilton Trail.


Driving from Italian was quick. My wife, Al and I arrived around 8:00 PM and set up camp at the end of the road. Thanks to Al, for my birthday, I now have a vinyl version of INCOTK which is proudly hanging on my wall. It's been way too hot for too long because the low 30s-high 20s temperatures we woke up to was cold. Although welcoming, I was was not used to the cold temperatures.

We started hiking up the Mount Tilton Trail at 5:30 AM. The first portion of the trail went quickly, and I noticed that the trail goes on the north side of the stream which is different from what the topo indicates. After ~1.5 miles, we hit a trail junction for Taylor Pass and from this junction we left the trail and started climbing directly north towards the base of the Taylor's west ridge.

Star in the morning light.

Glow on Taylor.

A bit steep and grassy, we quickly gained elevation, and passed through a trail and around some mines (indicated on the topo). Once above the mines, it was a mix of a talus/grass climb to Taylor's southwest ridge. Due to some cliffs on the ridge, we didn't head directly for the low point on Taylor's southwest ridge but for a more mellow area to the northeast.

After we intercepted Taylor's southwest ridge, it was a class 2 talus climb to the summit of Taylor where we arrived at 7:50 AM. Excellent view of changing leaves towards Ashcroft from the summit. Now for the "Star" of the day. Climbing Star from Taylor wasn't exactly an easy ridge romp.

Sunrise from Taylor.

Climbing up Taylor in sunrise. (Photo by Al)

Star from Taylor's southwest ridge.

Al making his way up Taylor.

Nearing the summit of Taylor.

Colors near Ashcroft from Taylor.

From the summit of Taylor we returned down the southwest ridge until the cliffs prior to the low point. We inspected the cliffs and decided to drop below the ridge and traverse below the ridge towards Star's north ridge. The initial cliffs off of Taylor's southwest ridge were class 4 on some very questionable looking rock. Got to love the Elks.

Descending downward, ~400 feet below the ridge, we started our long talus hop towards Star. The sea of talus looked bad but was "quicker" and easier than I had anticipated. I would guess the ridge proper would go at class 4 to low 5th with certain choss. If traveling on the ridge proper, there would be a nasty notch about 2/3s of the way towards Star. I think Billie Jean did the best on the talus as Al and I made our way to the rock couloir north of Star's summit.

Point 12,415 lower on Taylor.

Scree fest towards Star.

Nasty ridge from Star-Taylor.

Never ending scree.

Talus up the rock couloir wasn't as stable and some care was needed to gain the ridge. The difficulty didn't exceed class 2. Once on Star's north ridge, it was an easy class 2 hike to the summit. I think somewhere I read it was posted at class 4 which is definitely overkill. The hardest part was climbing up the rock couloir north of the north ridge.

Talus scree gully up Star.

Looking back on the scree fest.

North ridge on Star.

Arriving on the summit of Star at 10:15 AM we needed a break. It took us 2.5 hours to make the traverse from Taylor and the traverse to Crystal didn't look any easier. Looking at photos of the peak prior to our climb, I knew there was a big cliff in the Star's south ridge which would pose a problem and from the summit of Star, the cliff could not be viewed.

With a little looking around from the summit, I found a talus gully down the southwest face of Star. We were able to gain the gully by descending ~100-200 feet off of Star's south ridge then heading west to gain the deep gully. Our travel was slow as we descended the gully since it was steep and full of loose talus (class 2). This would make a sweet snow climb in the spring. Al and I were not impressed with Star and this peak was everything but a "star" in our book.

Colors looking towards Ashcroft.

Castle and Cathedral from the summit of Star.

Our descent gully on the southwest face of Star.

Looking up the scree gully we descended on Star.

Nasty cliff on Star's south ridge.

Reaching the bottom of the rock gully on Star's southwest face was a bit of a relief but we still had plenty of talus hopping ahead of us. We traversed south across Star's southwest face at ~12,500. Optic illusions had me fooled and from a distance, I thought it was going to be a grassy climb up and over Star's south ridge, but it was a loose and somewhat obnoxious talus climb to regain the ridge at ~12,600-12,700.

Looking back at the southwest face of Star.

Crystal from Star's south ridge.

Travel was much better after we regained Star's south ridge and the cliff, from our vantage point, didn't look easy. Perhaps there might be a class 4 weakness on the west side of the ridge? I would rather leave that exploration for an ascent rather than on a descent. As we made our way to the Star-Crystal saddle we were greeted with plenty of dirt bikes. Sucking some exhaust, we continued up Crystal's grassy class 2 north ridge to the summit where we arrived at 11:55 AM.

Glad that the talus was behind us, we continued towards Point 12,415 down Crystal's east ridge. Grassy with some loose rock near the bottom, we reached the 12,415-Crystal saddle where we were able to follow a dirt bike trail to the summit of 12,415 where we arrived at 12:20 PM. Since the dirt bike trail went up and over 12,415, we just followed the trail down 12,415's east ridge to the 12,415-Tilton saddle where we took the trail back to the car, arriving at 2:00 PM. A glutton for talus punishment might enjoy Taylor or Star together but I might recommend them as a separate outing or as snow climbs.Crystal from the west ridge of 12,415.

Taylor from the descent off of 12,415.

Star from the descent off of 12,415.

Fall colors.

Billie Jean cooling off.

Route Map.

GPX by Al.

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

Comments or Questions

09/21/2012 22:04
The SP page says you're nuts for climbing these without snow. Thanks for confirming.


I was thinking the same thing...
09/21/2012 22:16
...after looking at images 17-19. Nutty.
Thanks for the beta.
Looks like I'll save those for the very distant future, maybe if I ever consider finishing the 13er list.

Chicago Transplant

09/21/2012 23:18
I was interested in doing this exact loop but wasn't sure about a) my Outback making the trailhead (what do you think?) and b) how the ridge would ”go”. Looks like you answered ”b” pretty well, too bad the talus gullies are so nasty too. Snow seems to be the way to go here, thanks.


Billie Jean
09/22/2012 03:57
Awesome dog name.

The ”Climbing up Taylor at Sunrise” is VERY nice.

Nice report!

-- the other derek


thanks for posting
09/23/2012 22:12
Derek thanks for posting this one and for Italian the day before

glad you liked the vinyl

yes my wife thinks I am nutty

turned out well for the two days even with me being off a bit


Of course, Derek!
09/24/2012 00:34
”Eastern Elk Duo” ends up being a report of four summits -- no surprise there! The report is up to your usual high standards...what are we going to do when you finish the 13ers?


Nice route
09/26/2012 02:32
Very cool. I get the point about snow, but it looks like you did OK! Thanks for great beta.

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