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Out of the Fryingpan and into the Fire -OR- Hit in the face by a Fryingpan
12653 A, 13003, 12801, 13026, 13202, 13300 A, 13145 B, 13230 B, Wayah Peak, 13212
Trailhead: Fryingpan Lakes
Elevation gain: 7,454'
Time: 16.5 hrs
Difficulty: class 4 to 5.easy
1-way PPG: 1.4 (24 mpg) Be sure to save 50mi by taking the Eagle-Thomasville dirt road.
Ever since I read Steve Knapp's TR from 2009 on this loop, I have wanted to do it. So over the last year or so, I've gotten stronger, faster and increased my endurance to be able to complete the entire loop. With a storm forecast of 0%, Saturday was the day, finally! I was excited and a bit apprehensive. Could I do it?
Very very little beta on these peaks, and from the TR, Steve went up a class 5 section solo. So when we climbed Schmoe's Nose together earlier this year, I asked him about it. He said his partner traversed around and found some class 4 slabs. Sweet!
Well, Saturday morning arrived too quickly. A bit too much fun on Wednesday & Thursday nights, and I didn't want to get out of my sleeping bag. Oh how I would curse myself later for this 1 hour snooze! I got about 10' of trail before the bushwhack started. Not too bad in the light, and I made semi decent time up the first peak of the day, Pt 12,653 A. From there the way is view is impressive. It's a very long ridge that curves around...
Route up 12,653 A
View south from 12,653 A
Looking back on 12,653 A
After my first 12er, I try to kick it into gear - or "beast mode".... hmmm not working. The kitten has shown up for the big traverse. Seems like I'm having an off day. At least there won't be any storms, since I'm going to need all day to run this ridge! Thankfully the first half of the ridge has only minor scrambling or route finding, so it goes easily enough. It's rocky along the way to the first 13er, but a way always presents itself.
Very interesting summit rocks of 13,003!
Ridge south from 13,003, with the next 12er nearby on right.
The next peak 12,801 comes quickly after the first 13er, Pt 13,003. Hard to believe it's ranked, it looks so non-prominent.
Looking back on 13,003
Looking back on the summit of 12,801
A bit of a long ridge to the next peak, Pt 13,026. Don't pause too long, as I'm trying to avoid doing math to calculate how much longer I have today.
Stonehenge rock with the Williams Mountain group of 5 behind
As you approach Pt 13,202 and the almost halfway mark, things start to get a little more interesting scramble wise. I chose to go up the edge of the slabs on the ridge on the left, instead of the scree gully. Your choice. From the summit, I get a nice view of the next peak along the way - Pt 13,300 A - it looks complicated but fun!
I walk over towards the east to hopefully find a decent way down.... cliff! Hmmm I don't think I want to downclimb that. So I drop west and then south and find the secret green ledge that traverses the SE face of 13,202. Still looking for a way down to the ridge, and find nothing but cliffs. At the end of the ledge is a nice class 4 down climb. Woohoo, back on the easy ridge and on to the half way point!
Half way through the day - Looking back at 13,202
Now the fun really begins! How to get up 13,300 A? It's pretty obvious to bypass the first ridge block on the left. From there it's a slabby class 4 scramble up towards the next block. I don't know if the second block "goes", so I decide to traverse around after the first pitch or so, and find more slabby fun to scramble up. The last bit up the slabs feels almost 5.easy, but with all the Flatiron climbing I've been doing lately, it's fun and not an issue. Once back on the ridge and just below the summit, I see the second blocky rock feature does "go" on the north side. Oh well!
The summit of 13,300 A is quite satisfying after all that scrambling fun. So much more to go as well. This side of the ridge is more of a scramble fest. So after signing another register with familiar names, I'm off north!
Looking north at the ridge to come, from 13,300 A
The next peak is unranked, 13145 B, and it seems to take forever to get there. From the summit I take a break, and look at the crux of the entire traverse. The cliff face up the unranked 13,230 B. Wow... if only I had a partner with a rope and rack, the cracks look fun! But no, I'm solo, have to find the class 4 in a sea of class 5. As I get closer and closer to the cliffs, the east and south faces look steep and impenetrable. Let's hope the west face holds a better option!
Looking to the SW face, I see something that might go, along a fallen boulder mid-way. As I make my way below it. There's a nice crack to lay back, but above the fallen boulder, it looks too steep to be class 4. Darn! Then I look to my left of that crack, and I see a way! Rule #1 - Never climb up, what you can't climb down. Passes rule #1, we'll try this way and see what it looks like. Hopefully it will pass rule #2 - Always be prepared to turn around and find another way.
After the first set up slabs, I look to my right and see more class 4 terrain. Sweet! I think I found the way! Once above that section, it's pretty easy to get to the unranked summit a little ways beyond the crux.
Above the crux, looking at where some of the eastern cracks top out. Pt 13,145 B beyond.
From this incredibly challenging summit, the ridge to Wayah Peak looks a lot more tame. Better get to it, the sun is going west with a fury!
The ridge over to Wayah Peak
On Wayah Peak, it's 9 down, 1 more to go! And it looks like it won't give up without a fight either!
As I approach the saddle between Wayah and 13,212 I look for a way up to the blocky ridge proper. Doesn't go. It cliffs out to the west, so I'm forced around to the east. I go for a while on the east side until I don't like the giant blocky talus. Up to the ridge, hoping it will go (it doesn't), but looking over to the west side, it looks good.
On the west side of the ridge, I have to choose which of the two pointy prominences is the summit. My GPS says the closer one, but my printed map with Bill's waypoints says the other. With the setting sun, I decide to quickly check out the closer rocky summit. It goes class 5.crack and I get up most of the way, touch the big block, and look at the other prominece - yup that's the real summit! Down climb, and follow ridge... find a cliff, again. Traverse around and start up the real summit. Hmmm, from further away, it looks more gentle. Class 3/4 from the start!
View of real summit from false one
Looking back at false summit and the millionth cliff I found.
Scramble start up the summit pitch
Sunset is approaching...
From earlier in the day, I had wanted to continue along the ridge, but from the summit, it cliffs out - wow... big surprise there - Grrrr! I've heard that the drainage below is a nightmare, but with the sun setting, I may not be able to find a decent traverse over the rocky rib that separates me from the rest of the ridge. So I decide to go down to the valley below, and suffer the consequences of sleeping in that hour. The remaining 2.5 miles in the valley, were some of the worse bushwhacking I've ever done in my life! I know why the old trail is now defunct... it's been swallowed by a bog! The mud grips at your boots so strongly, I almost lost mine a few times! Fallen tree branches creep out of the muck to trip you. (Yeah, I almost face-planted) Giant chest high boulders appear in the middle of your path in the forest. Deadfall, spider webs, marshy streams - it's never ending.
By the time I make it back to the 20' of trail and my truck, I do the math... plans for Sunday will have to change. Can't do a 12mi 5K day on 1-2 hrs of sleep. Need something I can sleep in for ~5hrs, as midnight is my bed time tonight after dinner - bugger! After what has to be the hardest, longest and most mentally challenging ridge run of my life so far, all I want to do is sleep! Next Steve Knapp loop/ridge run I do - I will have to start earlier, and bring the beast
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
I did this circuit (sans 12653) last July in reverse order with my dog who essentially summitted every peak. Doing the peaks in clockwise order has multiple advantages including getting the craggier peaks out of the way when the weather is still smiling and, as the case may be, daylight is still present. Free of psychological time constraints I was able to find a route that went at around class 2 plus. Starting with 13212 meant that I was in the valley for at least an hour before turning east towards 13212's summit allowing me to locate the trail which after a nebulous beginning is generally serviceable. Another advantage of a clockwise progression is that following the 13003 - 12653 ridge in the dark would likely be a lot more enjoyable than bushwhacking off trail through the valley.
Another observation is that while Bergstein seems to have followed the ridge from 13300 to 13202 preserving elevation but incurring more distance and canine-unfriendly terrain, we headed directly towards 13202 from the small saddle a couple of hundred meters south of 13300's summit, dropping into the valley and losing about 1000' but saving a lot of time.
One disadvantage of the clockwise approach is that not only is it hard to find the start of the trail, it is easy to get on the fork that heads up the Fryingpan drainage instead of the Marten Creek drainage. I was fortunate to get to the TH the night before with just enough light left to investigate the first quarter mile of the trail and learn where Fryingpan trail forked off.
This is a great outing in one of the remoter parts of the Sawatch.
P.S. One reason I post rarely is that when I do I tend to get bogged down crossing my t's and dotting my i's. In this case, before submitting I checked out Memoguy's TR on this area. He did the circuit in the same order as I did and also omitted 12653 and had negative things to say about walking out on the trail (”overgrown ... boggy mess”). Maybe I got lucky but I don't remember the trail being especially bad.
The adventure of the mostly unknown 08/20/2013 16:44
... Is half the fun!
Abe - Being solo, I wasn't quite comfortable with that type of exposure on those east cliffs, but they looked fun! Yeah, the west slope of 212 was inviting in the waning light. Wish I had followed that bench!
Nat - wait till the ~20mi loop...
dhgold - I though about clockwise, but I had planned to get up the first peak for sunrise. Also my IT bands in my knee were tight until after the first 13er, so scrambling that early might have hurt too much. From what I knew (I skimmed mennoguy's TR briefly on Fri - surprised it existed), I also wanted to up climb the class 4, not down climb. It just happens to be my preference. I also though having the fun scrambling at the end would be a great carrot to keep me motivated to continue. Saving the best for last!
Rainier_Wolfcastle - Compared to the other worse addictions out there like smoking, alcohol and drugs - coffee, climbing and skiing are not all that bad! Cause all I need to pay for my crack, is a rope and a rack
...no idea such gems existed in the Sawatch. Let us know when you do unleash the ”beast” - I'll have to be sitting down for that one! BTW, I'm curious why you don't share your gpx - the forum disclaimer should free of you any liability.
Though I haven't done the ridge from 13003 to 13,202, the remaining part of your route is one of my favorite days in the mountains! Makes me want to go back and do it all again. Thanks for sharing the report.
I'll pm any gpx desired. The disclaimer should be adequate for most, but we do live in a litigious society. I work for a Geodedic (GPS) company and I know how inaccurate these hand held devices are. Morning and afternoon tracks vary based on atmospheric, satellite density and battery strength. So I usually say something about the track in the pm. Also, like with this trip, I could have gone a better way down. So in the pm I would draw on pic #1 as well as on a map some other options. I don't do it in the TR mainly to leave some adventure to those who want it.
Rajz06 - Many gems in the Sawatch. The loop I wanted to do on Sun is another classic. Soon, I hope!
SuperPolok - These peaks are certainly tops of my obscure 13er favorites list! I loved the challenge of them
My impetus for going clockwise was to get the more difficult part of the ridge done first and have a nice walk back, which would have worked for us had we got our asses out of our sleeping bags earlier. I think the problem with the trail is that it is near impossible to follow after dark. When we had daylight we were able to salvage a trail. Thanks for the report and making me feel lazy this summer.
Ha, glad my report spiked your interest and you got this done. I've got give John Kirk the credit for the idea though. It remains one of the most memorable days I've had in the hills. You are doing great going after all these peaks. Good warm up for your September plans. Nice work Otina!
your beta still stands! Did this loop in reverse yesterday and was very happy with the results. I loved the ridge from Wayah to 230B. I dipped off 600‘ to get water and swim in the lake east of 300B. That ridge 026 to 003 just about slogged me to death. Was happy when it was over! Thanks for beta!
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