Peak(s):  Keller Mtn  -  13,085 feet
Date Posted:  09/25/2014
Modified:  02/16/2016
Date Climbed:   08/30/2014
Author:  MtnHub
Additional Members:   Fishdude, sunny1, 12ersRule, mike offerman
 Keller Mountain (13,085'), East Ridge   

Keller Mountain (13,085'), East Ridge

August 30, 2014

Rock Creek Trailhead (Gore Range)
Elevation Gain: 3,600'
Round-trip Length: 9.5 miles

Climbers: sunny1 (Nancy), Fishdude (Joel), 12ersRule (Dave), Mike Offerman, MtnHub (Doug)


For the last couple of years, Nancy and I have been trying to connect on a climb. But for various reasons, we've never been able to follow through on one. This year we had hoped to finally meet and attempt the Arrowhead/McHenrys loop, one that I have attempted the last two years but again, have never been able to completely finish it.

Her good friend, Dave (12ersRule), was also very interested in this loop. Among the three of us, we were communicating back and forth during the first few weeks of my 2014 vacation hoping for a break in the weird weather patterns that have been plaguing Colorado as a whole. New and lingering ice and snow in the Front Range made our possible descent down Stone Man Pass very iffy, and we had been monitoring its status closely.

After deciding on a date, we had to eventually scrap the AH/McH climb and opt for an alternative. Nancy had also been talking about Keller Mountain to me in previous years, another enticing climb, and we chose this to be our substitute destination. This would also become my first trip in the Gore Range and I was anxious to experience this new area.

The Climb:

Because of a little miscommunication, we got a rather late start. I was riding with Dave and his buddy, Mike, and we waited at the highway intersection for over half an hour while Nancy and Joel were waiting for us at the trail head. But after we all finally got together and introduced each other we started on our way.

Mike and Dave led the group for most of the day, while Nancy and Joel usually brought up the rear. This left me in the middle most of the time which suited me just fine. That way, I had the opportunity to take pictures of the team in front of me as well as the team behind.

The East Ridge route initially follows a well-established trail alongside the North Rock Creek. When we reach the tailings of the Boss Mine, we head directly up the steep slope, sometimes finding remnants of narrow pathways through the thin brush. For bushwhacking, it is pretty easy stuff albeit, quite steep.
Our leader, Mike, off and running.

In a few places the view opens up enough for us to get some spectacular sights of our surroundings.
It's a beautiful day in the Gores!

When we reach a high rise, Dave spots an unexpected visitor, a rather large black bear, who stops and stares at us for several minutes before he wanders off into the woods. Fortunately, he is going the opposite direction that we are intending.
A furry black friend taking us in.

We cross a narrow meadow before reaching another steep section to climb. On our way over, we notice several large rocks about 12-18" in diameter that have been tipped over from their imbedded positions in the dirt. They look too fresh to think they were pulled out because of an avalanche or some other natural means of disturbance. Then we realize that this is likely due to the bear flipping the rocks over in search of worms or grubs. We are nearing the time where they are trying to fatten up before their hibernation.

Dave and Mike heading up a steep slope.

Nancy and Joel bringing up the rear.


We continue to climb the severe slope until we reach a high shoulder of scrubby trees. Here it levels off briefly before the high alpine slope of the mountain's east ridge. The terrain then changes from stone-studded grass to steady rocks and talus.
Joel finally reaches a level place before the next steep section.

Nancy and Joel heading up the slope.

Multi-layered Gores.

The upward climb now becomes relentless and we make frequent stops to rest, take off a layer of clothing, or rehydrate and refuel.
The team on the move ...

... and the team at rest.

Nancy and Joel follow us up the ridge proper.

But the views continue to get better all the time.
More beauty in the Gore range.

When we reach the first of several high points, we can better visualize what we have left to climb. The traverse we need to cross forms a rugged S-curved ridge of rocky class 3 fun! Let the games begin!
Mike and Dave start the last difficult section. (Keller is the far peak in the center)

Nancy gets a little assistance from Dave in a tight place.

The route continues to snake around the bend with the crux still out of view.

Coming around a rocky section.

Modern technology will forever change the face of mountaineering:
"How you doing back there, Nance?"

"Just fine, Dave. See you soon at the top!"

Vistas supreme!

Now where the heck did I leave my helmet?

Mike and Dave leading us through the crux.

Mike dubbed this little lake, Clog Lake.

Watch out for that first step!

MtnHub takes the high road. (photo by sunny1)

Dave and Doug on the rocks. (photo by sunny1)

Coming down from the ridge. (photo by sunny1)

The final easy push to the summit!


Joel and Nancy enjoy the benefits of their effort on the summit.

We take another long break on the summit but clouds are now starting to build around us. We can see signs that Holy Cross is getting some precipitation as well as some of the other Gore peaks close by. When a cloud starts to form directly overhead, we figure we'd better soon begin our descent.

There is a quick debate on whether we should return back over the ridge or head directly down a gully from the summit. The latter would involve some nasty scree until we reach the basin below and then there would be some bushwhacking to endure to reach the valley trail. It's unanimously decided to take our chances on the more solid rock and do the traverse once again. Although a flurry of snow pellets and sleet fall on us briefly, it is still much more pleasant than the scree scurrying would have been.

Looking back at the Traverse we'll need to repeat.

Dave and Doug re-climbing a section on the return. (photo by sunny1)

Heading back across the crux. (photo by sunny1)

After reaching the trees again, approximately where we saw the bear, we find a real trail leading us across the top of the entire eastern slope and take it all the way back to the trail head. This prevents us from having to bushwhack down the steep southeastern slope again. It seems much longer (doesn't it always?) but it is a more gradual incline and is easy on our knees and feet.

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

One of my favorite mountains.
09/25/2014 16:27
Great pictures and narrative.


Love me some Gore reports
09/25/2014 17:30
Nice work on a great ridge...glad to see your 1st Gore outing was so enjoyable.


Nice report!
09/25/2014 20:28
You captured the day well!
Humorous captions, love 'em!
It was a great day, thanks for your company and for writing this up.


well done!
09/26/2014 00:38
Doug - Funny we both posted Gore reports at the same time. I still have never seen a bear in the wild! nice work and great report in a great spot! I hope all your time out here was even better than you expected! Until next time. Cheers!


Wrong turn at the mine!
09/26/2014 14:17
That's what I did and went through bushwhack hell. That same lake in the basin below the summit was Big Foot Lake for me. I descended down to that lake and nearly vanished, never to be seen again in the brush that ensued. It's a good warm-up for things to come in the Gores! Nice outing!


Great day!!
09/27/2014 03:32
Great hiking with you, Doug! Lets do it again sometime.


Thanks for your comments!
09/27/2014 13:02
Jay521 - Yes! It's now a favorite of mine too!

jbchalk - I'm lovin' the Gores now too!

sunny1 - Was great to finally meet you and Joel and get a climb in together! Let's do it again!

dillonsarnelli - Yeah, that was kind of strange that that happened. Great minds think alike!

boudreaux - I think we made the right decision going back across the Traverse. I'm not a big fan of bushwhacking through heavy brush, nor descending down loose scree. But glad you made it out alive!

12ersRule - Great to meet and hike with you too, Dave! Yes, let's plan something for next year!

awilbur77 - I don't think you'll be disappointed when you do it.

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