Peak(s):  Pacific Pk  -  13,950 feet
Atlantic Pk  -  13,841 feet
Date Posted:  07/28/2014
Modified:  04/09/2015
Date Climbed:   07/12/2014
Author:  ameristrat
Additional Members:   Tony1
 Coast to Coast  

Peaks: Pacific Peak & Atlantic Peak
Date: 7/12/14
Start Time: 6:55 AM
End Time: 12:00 PM
Distance: 5.25 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3100'

If you want a fun route with some good scrambling that is also close to Denver AND affords the opportunity to summit two ranked Centennial Thirteeners, Pacific Peak and Atlantic Peak are for you.

The moon sets in the west

Looking westward down Mayflower gulch

Tony and I headed up to the Mayflower Gulch TH a bit later than we'd intended with a stormy forecast looming in the afternoon. The road was rougher in one spot than anticipated, but not awful. I thought the Mayflower Gulch TH road was similar to the road the Grays Peak TH - high clearance is required in one spot, but overall not too bad.

We left the car a bit before 7 and headed north across the gulch, quickly learning the meaning of the word "bushwhack." This was the crux of the route, and the generous amount of dew combined with the head-high willows to make the football field of bushwhacking a truly miserable experience.

This is us not having fun.

After resigning myself to the fact that my gloves were going to be soaked for the day, we continued on, contouring to the left between Mayflower Hill and the West Ridge of Atlantic.

An important note: there is an intermittent trail that becomes steadily more evident as you climb into the drainage between Mayflower and Atlantic. On the way up, we stayed too high and ended up walking through a quarter mile of mildly-annoying talus. The aforementioned trail parallels Pacific creek (and stays pretty close to the creek). Find that trail and your start will be easier.

You wind your way (across a few small snowfields in our case) and aim for the very prominent base of Pacific Peak's West Ridge.

The early morning sun whitewashes Pacific Peak's summit - and I guess the wildflowers didn't suck

The ridge begins with an increasingly steep class 2 hike over loose rock and more-stable boulders. There is a massive fin that dominates your view of the ridge. Stay to the right of this.

The prominent tower at the start of the ridge

Upon drawing level with this fin, we angled to the right a bit and scrambled up a gravel-covered rib on the opposite side of a narrow gully to gain the West Ridge for the first time. The exposure on the north side of the ridge is immediately evident.

Beginning the loose gully to the ridge before crossing to gain solid rock

Tony scrambled up solid rock to the right of a loose, narrow gully to gain the ridge.

A short way further up the ridge, you come to a small rock wall with no easy way around it. Just left of center on the wall is an obvious weakness. Scramble up it to gain easier ground. This portion was probably the most difficult climbing on the ridge. We felt that, while it never reached Class 4 in difficulty, the moves were on the more difficult side of class 3.

The most difficult climbing yet!

Above this wall, you can see the summit of Pacific Peak, and it looks miles away. The ridge looks very complicated. Fear not, it's not as bad as it looks with careful route finding.

The peak looks so far away!

You will pass another small tower on the ridge around to the left with a move that requires you to lean out over the exposure a bit more than you'd like to sidle around a rock.

Not sure where this was. It wasn't nearly as hard to get to my vantage as it looks, but there's some exposure!

Beyond that, the route returns to mostly class two until a small section near 13,800. Stay on the ridge or just to the right of it until a short, steep gully blocks your access.

The rock in this gully was loose, so Tony completed it while I waited, shielded by a rock rib to protect from falling rock. The moves towards the top can be a bit awkward, so take your time and choose your route carefully.

Tony in the last class 3 gully before Pacific Peak

Beyond this gully, it is easy to keep the route at class two through the notch and to the summit.

We rested for fifteen minutes on the summit of Pacific Peak before heading for Atlantic which we summitted a short forty minutes later.

Looking towards Atlantic minutes after leaving Pacific Peak's summit
headed up the shrinking snowfield to Atlantic

Tony surveying the surroundings on Atlantic's summit
the backside of Quandary

A look at Pacific's entire west ridge

As clouds began to build to the west, we snapped a few pictures and headed down Atlantic's west ridge. While class 2, the route contains some obnoxious talus, especially down below 13,000 feet. I headed straight down the broadening ridge towards the trail near the creek.

Looking down Atlantic's West Ridge

Looking back up Atlantic's west Ridge

Tony disagreed with my route and veered to the right down easier talus upon reaching the flat, broad portion of the ridge below 13,000 feet. He beat me easily to the trees. Listen to Tony, he's a smart guy.

Actually, this wasn't fun.

The views are awesome!

We followed the trail all of the way to the willows (though it was difficult to follow towards the end) and then recommenced the worst part of the climb though, thankfully, without a monsoon of dew this time.

This route was a blast - good class three scrambling, some loose rock, and a good bit of exposure up to Pacific. For those looking for a good warm up to the harder 14ers, or those just looking for a half-day climb with good scrambling, this is a fun one.

~ Ameristrat

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

nice report
07/29/2014 13:27
looks like a nice day out...atlantic-pacific is on my short list this summer and your report has some great info

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