Peak(s):  South Arapaho Pk  -  13,397 feet
North Arapaho Pk  -  13,502 feet
Date Posted:  07/29/2013
Date Climbed:   07/27/2013
Author:  forbins_mtn
 S Arapaho > N Arapaho Traverse  

S Arapaho 13,397 ft
N Arapaho 13,502 ft

4th of July Trailhead: accessible by 2WD, just be smart about it. The main thing about this TH is that it gets packed very fast and very early. We arrived 6am and we were still able to grab a spot at the upper TH, but when we came down around 2p-3p the entire road was crammed with cars. We're talking 4 miles of road packed with cars on one side or the other. It's popular!

I've come to realize that Trip Reports on 14ers are dime a dozen, but a solid Trip Report on a 13er can make or break someone's day in the hills. These are travelled peaks, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to add some more photos, my GPS tracks and a few hints to help others on this traverse. I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I know you want good photos with different angles. I certainly hope this helps.

First of all, this traverse was amazing. These peaks lie well under 14k, but the climbing involved was the real deal. There were multiple occasions where we picked our route. The classic Class 4 slab can be your only Class 4 move of the day, or it can be one of many. If in doubt, move to climber's left of the ridge and you should be able to find a Class 3 way around the challenge. There is only one time where we went right of the ridge and that was up a steep gulley very close to N Arapaho.

According to my GPS, it was 10.4 miles RT and about 4,400 ft of elevation gain. You're going to take the Arapaho Pass Trail, take a right at the Glacier Pass Trail and then follow that badboy up through the marsh and eventually up the south slope of S Arapaho

GPS track

GPS track

The trail starts steady and easy. It was probably one of the most scenic and beautiful trails I have been on in quite some time. Wildflowers and surrounding peaks will keep your mind busy for the first couple hours. When you reach the base of S Arapaho you will get your first glimpse of the challenge ahead. Keep climber's left and it's all Class 2 climbing. You can follow a faint trail or pick your own line.

Looking up at S Arapaho, you are going to be hiking up the left side

Terrain going up the west slope of S Arapaho

From the summit it's an obvious hike down to the ridge. There are multiple orange paint markers to help you find your way. Again, if in doubt stay left of the ridge to find the easiest passage. The next challenge is the Class 4 slab. Angles are deceiving. I'll put two pictures here to show you the slab. One from a distance that makes it look easy, and one from the top that makes it seem straight up and down. Treat it like a 7' wall. You're going to have two different places for handholds, and two different places for footholds. One our way down I lowered my body to a very stable rock on the far right side and then lowered my left foot down to safety. You'll see what I mean when you get up there.

View of the slab from afar

Coming up the slab

Coming down the slab. This is a shot with my hands on the second(or lower) handholds

Keep moving left of the ridge, and you'll find some Class 3 ledges that you can easily (but carefully traverse) down to safer territory.

Coming down the ledges

Traversing the ledges

Keep moving and you'll enter a notch that when will move you to the last challenges of the traverse

Coming through the notch. You can't miss it. Push climber's left and you'll find it

Shoot up a small gulley that poses the most difficulty with sliding and loose rock. This photo is coming down, but the most stable rock is on the climber's right as you come up.

Scooting on your butt on the way down, but much easier on the way up. Lot of air underneath you though, so be careful

Summit time! The traverse took us a full hour. You can do it in 45 min if you really push the speed. Just be careful - this traverse is the real deal and I highly recommend it! Hope some of this beta can help you on your journey.

And please, by any means - PM me with questions


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

 Comments or Questions

Thought I recognized pic #5
07/30/2013 19:00
I'm at the bottom of that pic, and here's a vid of you guys climbing the slab:


08/01/2013 01:48
I love the traverse - I did it last year in late Sept when there was a little snow on the ledges, nothing too dodgy but did make it a little spicier than usual. Had the whole place to myself the whole day. You can, if you are willing to make a class 4 move, stay on top of the ridge and drop into that notch instead of going down the ledges. I opted for that on the way to NA to skip the snow on the way there but took the ledges on the way back up to SA. There's another TR in here from a year or two ago too that has more images from the traverse. Congrats!

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