Peak(s):  Italian Mtn  -  13,378 feet
Lambertson Pk  -  13,209 feet
Owen B, Mt  -  13,058 feet
Ruby Peak - 12644
Date Posted:  10/01/2015
Modified:  10/02/2015
Date Climbed:   09/27/2015
Author:  bergsteigen
 Lonely Elk Orphans   

Italian Mtn & Lambertson Pk

Trailhead: Italian Creek
Mileage: 6.69
Elevation Gain: 2,618'
Partner: Solo

With the colors changing and me still in recovery mode, I figured a couple of lonely Elk 13ers would be the way to regain some strength and speed. Plus rebuild a 13er hiking ego a bit. After last weeks fail on Garfield, I figured going with something done before, would be best. Get some of my 13er mojo back.

So after a nap on Cottonwood Pass, I was driving up the Italian Creek road around civil twilight. The road wasn't too bad once it went high clearance 4WD, but once it hit the first private property sign (You better be a friend if you continue past this sign), it gets a lot rougher. I had planned a loop, so I wasn't sure exactly where would be ideal. I made the turn after the switchback and continued up the much more technical 4WD road. I got up about 0.35 from the switchback, and the road started to narrow. I hadn't seen a place to turn around or pullout in a while. I wasn't sure if I should continue. So I started backing up the truck. It just happened to be over the worst of the road. Very glad to have a lift on the truck, since I didn't have to worry too much about placement of my tires/undercarriage. Just had to keep it on the road. After 0.2mi I found a place to 3 pt turn it, and parked it back at the switchback. On the return I would find that I only had another 0.15mi to go till the road intersection where I could have parked/turned around. OOPS!

So instead of walking up the road, I decided to go up a nice grassy slope. I had scoped on my map a way to avoid the mine property, and I did my best to follow it. Found the grassy ramp that Furthermore mentions and started up that. My GPS said that Lambertson Peak was to my right, not left, so I went that way and got on the summit of the super false peak. With my confidence a bit shattered after last week, I figured my 13er radar was just off. Turns out that the GPS had the peak in the wrong place. Oh well, a bit of extra hiking and a super short scramble up to the summit didn't really hurt.

Italian from my parking spot at the switchback

Italian with the Star Mine buildings

Pano of Italian and Lambertson

Ridge from false Lambertson

Star, Taylor and Castle from a 13er point

Elks and tomorrow's objective in the center - Owen B

The ridge over to Lambertson was easy and I made quick time up to it. Quite a nice view of the Elks from this perspective. Always nice to see familiar peaks from a different view!

After Lambertson, I knew there would be minor scrambling up to the summit of Italian. I didn't stay super ridge proper, since the gendarmes and the exposure was a bit more than I would have liked. So I stayed just below. There are even cairns along the way I went. The scrambling was incredibly minor, and was mostly just scrambling on large boulders. Not too bad over all.

Italian from the summit of Lambertson

Enjoyed my stay on Italian. I looked over to the 2 12er points and wasn't inspired. The close one looked overly talusy and not very interesting. American Flag peak had a steady stream of 4WD traffic going up and down it, so it quickly lost appeal. Coming up Cement Creek may be a better way to avoid the problems with the private property and to run the ridge with the 12ers included.

Pano west from Italian

Pano east from Italian

Italian's summit from the east

Pano on the descent of the 12er and Italian

On the descent I frequently consulted my Trails Illustrated map of the area to find the best way through the Private property. I tried going through the mine area, but come along the sign telling me to turn around, so I did. I hiked down along the Cement Creek FS road, hoping to see a sign saying it was ok. And I did. Phew! Since I had stopped 0.05mi from the sign on the Italian Creek road, I didn't know that there was a public easement along the road. Along the road is where I saw the only people of the day, all 4WDers.

Mine property sign - Turn back now!

It's OK to walk the road

Road intersection at the mine

Someone was having a bit of fun!

Mt Owen B & Ruby Pk

Trailhead: Lake Irwin
Mileage: 6
Elevation Gain: 2,825'
Partner: Solo

On the drive over to Lake Irwin, I made a quick stop to check out Crested Butte. Pretty peak colors! From there it was a short drive over to the very popular Lake Irwin camping area. Passing by the actual campground, I found most of the dispersed campsites taken. One that was open was horribly slanted, but I decided to stop there to walk around. Good thing since it was the last public spot available! After a quick grilled dinner, I enjoyed a nice sunset over the peaks to the south and clambered into my badly tilted truck to sleep for the night. At least I got one axis flat!

Another lazy post-sunrise start and I was starting up the narrow public causeway up to the saddle with Ruby. In retrospect, driving further up the road may have been easier and it seemed to be what everyone else did. At least most walked that direction "to the lake".

The final push up to the ridge line was stupid steep, and I had to hold onto the plants to pull my way up. Once on the ridge, the view of Kebler Pass was quite stunning. On the drive up, I kept wondering why everyone talked about Kebler Pass. What I saw was all evergreens! So apparently all the Aspens are on the west side of the pass, not the east. Made for a fairly distracted hike up Ruby, since I was constantly looking down at the leaves!

Crested Butte - pretty, but needs some snow!


Sunrise on Ruby and Owen from camp

Route up Ruby from parking spot

The stupid steep of the day

Colorful leaf pano from saddle on ridge

Another Kebler Pass shot along ridge

Ridge up to Ruby

Once on the summit of Ruby, Owen didn't look all that far away. Steep up and down from the saddle, but close. I could see 2 separate hikers with their dogs coming up the old mining road (not on any maps). If I had known about that road, I wouldn't have chosen the loop route I had planned. I guess I might have some company today.

Ruby's summit, looking at Owen

Pano south

Pano looking at Owen

After the steep scree on the Owen side, the route up to the summit is trailed and quite pleasant. So after a short jaunt, I was on the spectacular summit of Owen. At least the view was well worth it!

Ridge up Owen

Nearing the summit of Owen

Summit area of Owen

I sat on the summit for a very long time. It was hard to tear myself away! Had to promise myself that I would come back another fall day. The views of the Elks around me had me salivating for future trips!

Ridge to Purple Peak - yeah Nope!

Looking at Italian Mtn

Pano west

Pano north

Owen and Ruby from the 4WD road

Even with the steady stream of people coming up the 4WD road, only one guy and dog went up Owen. Multiple groups went up the 12er Ruby. Not sure why. Most of course were going to "the lake". The 4WD road up the the upper basin is all good except for one tricky spot, just into public land. It could use a spot or at least a scout. High clearance should be able to handle it, with some off-roading experience.

Waterfall with Owen behind

Cutest Private Property sign I saw all weekend!

Owen and Ruby from Kebler Pass

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

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 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Comments or Questions

Stupid steep!
10/01/2015 17:22
We were out on Ruby and Owen last Saturday. I was having second thoughts about this being the right route to combine the two because of that steep loose grass/dirt crap!


ah the elks
10/01/2015 21:16
A nice outing for the soul you got here Otina. makes me gitty thinking about when the snow will start flying.


Same Wavelength...
10/02/2015 13:17
...On this report & your Sawatch Orphans report. I’ve literally been planning trips to both Ruby / Owen & Twin Peaks / Rinker for a couple weeks now! I’m thinking I’ll reverse the loop on TP / Rinker though. Thanks for the recent beta on both these routes! Nice TR’s too!


Thanks :)
10/02/2015 16:24
CUaaron25 – I knew about that slope from Keith’s TR from a fall gathering many years ago – that I meant to go on. Seeing it up close was everything I expected. Now I know a better way!

Abe – Very soulful weekend! Felt great to be in the Elks again. Mmmm snow!

TakeMeToYourSummit – Glad I could help in your planning! The reverse loop on TP–Rinker would be a good idea. Steep climb is better sometimes than a steep descent.


10/02/2015 17:02
Great, Otina. Glad to hear your on the mend. I meant to get to Italian Creek this summer but never made time. I’ve taken my pickup up some really nasty roads but haven’t been to the end of this one – how is the road to that "11,006" mark on the USGS map? I’m thinking if I go up before the snow, I’ll park in that area.

Hope you had fun!


know the feeling
10/03/2015 17:06
I just passed a peak not 0.5 mile +/– and 800 feet away because of daylight. Now makes it a 13 mile rt and 4000+. That is the nature of the beast. I seem to recall those were Elk Peaks but not really Elk type peaks. nice going. Al (oh and I am Italian too)


Italian Crk Road
10/05/2015 10:46
Bill – "11,006" is where me and another Toyota both took off 4WD low on the descent, so fairly easy 4WD to that point. Couple of nice camp areas along that road!

piper14er – This Elk definitely had more of a Sawatch feel to it. I’ve missed unnamed peaks before. Thankfully one of them was an excellent ski (Blarney or 13,500 off Indy Pass).

Brian Thomas

overly talusy and not very interesting
10/06/2015 11:48
What a rockist thing to say


10/07/2015 12:26
Otina, I’m obviously very slow these days. So many TR’s in that damn list! haha. Solo jaunts in the Elks... Well done indeed! Be careful out there Italian Creek and Italian Mountain, who knew... Need to add those to my list and send Grandma a summit shot. Winter is coming. Hope you had a great summer!


10/09/2015 10:51
Brian – There are plenty of


Great TR!
11/03/2015 11:14
I was researching Italian today as I made a note to myself to find out more info on the route so your TR timing is perfect. Now that I have seen your pics and description of Owen I have to add that to my "soon" list too as it looks fantastic.

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