Peak(s):  Storm King Pk  -  13,752 feet
Seven, Pk  -  13,682 feet
Nine, Pk  -  13,402 feet
Date Posted:  10/15/2015
Modified:  11/01/2015
Date Climbed:   09/25/2015
Author:  Hoot
 Eastern Grenadiers: Storm King, Peak Seven, and Peak Nine   

23-27 Sep 2015 Eastern Grenadiers Trip Report (cont)
Climbers: John and Hoot
Trailhead: Beartown Continental Divide Trail
Day 2: Storm King Peak, Peak Seven and Peak Nine (Grenadier, Needle, Needle?)
Distance: 8 miles

Friday: Storm King Peak, Peak Seven, and Peak Nine

Friday morning I woke up to the sound of John rustling around outside. I asked, "What time is it John?" "It's 6:20." Oh crap. I had slept in like I've never slept in before while camping. I skipped my morning coffee and we left camp at 7:00 am, 30 minutes later than planned. After getting some water, we hiked back up to Lake Silex which we reached a little after 8am. Then we followed a nice grassy ramp from the north end of Lake Silex up toward the Peak Nine-Storm King saddle. Above the grass, we followed cairns for much of the way through the boulders up to the saddle which we reached at 8:45 am.

From the Nine-Storm King saddle, the route up Storm King's southwest ridge was steep, but easy to follow. Just past the very prominent spire on the ridge, we transitioned from class 2 climbing to some fun class 3 scrambling for a bit. After the scrambling, we followed cairns into the loose gully to the left of the ridge which led us to the summit ridge. Once on the summit ridge, it was a short walk north west to the summit. We arrived at Storm King's summit at about 9:30 am. From the summit we had a great view of upper Stormy Gulch as well as all of our remaining summits. After about 15 minutes on top, we headed back down to the Nine-Storm King saddle the way we came. Along the way, John took a short detour to climb the prominent spire along the ridge. John reported that it was a quick and easy climb, but with massive exposure.

Once back at the saddle, we dropped about 200' and then began traversing around the north side of Peak Eight near the 12,600' contour line away from the Grenadiers and into the Needle Mountains. Then we climbed up to the small lake at the Seven-Eight saddle. John collected some water on the slope just below the lake. From the lake it was an easy climb due west up to Peak Seven's north ridge which we followed south to Peak Seven's summit. Peak Seven's north ridge turned out to be much more fun than I expected. We had to pick our way around some obstacles along the ridge, mostly going on the west side. Then the final 250' to the summit required steep class 3 scrambling on some good slabs, but with plenty of loose rock, a patch of snow here and there, and some exposure to keep things interesting. We reached the summit of Peak Seven at 11:45 am.

Among the many great views from the summit of Peak Seven was the view of 13,705' bicentennial Peak 6 to our southwest and the 1-mile ridgeline between it and our position. John suggested going for Peak 6 and I admit I was tempted as there are no other bicentennial peaks nearby. But I demurred. While we could not see any difficult obstacles along the Six-Seven ridge, neither of us had beta on this route. And it was already noon (why hadn't I set my alarm?!) and this was going in the opposite direction from camp. Getting Peak 6 will require another long trip into the San Juans. But we did have one more quality 13er planned for the afternoon. From the summit of Peak Seven, we had an excellent view of the very indirect, but perhaps only practical route to the summit of 13er Peak Nine.

After about 15 minutes on the summit, we descended the way we came along the Peak Seven's north ridge. We started southeast from the small lake at the Seven-Eight saddle at 12:55 pm still under clear blue skies. Traversing the talus slopes south of Peak Eight was tedious, but not difficult. Across and just above the lake south of Peak Eight, we saw an amazing huge cut in the slope below Peak Seven. I assume the cut was created by an eroded seam of rock. But the cut was so straight and uniform in shape that only its remote location convinced me that it was not manmade. I wish we had had time to explore it! But on we pressed toward the west end of Peak Nine's grassy ledge.

Getting up onto the grassy ledge was a little tricky, requiring a short exposed class 3 scramble on very loose rock. Once on the ledge, the going was pretty easy and obvious and even marked with the occasional cairn. It took us 25 minutes to follow the ledge 0.3 miles southeast under and past Nine's well-guarded summit. At the east end of the ledge, we scrambled up an easy class 3 gully to Peak Nine's summit ridge. This put us a quarter of a mile southeast of the summit. The route along the ridge to the summit was very fun. The climbing was mostly class 3 with a couple of short class 4 climbs and a few fairly exposed sections including a ledge on the north side of the ridge 1200 feet above Lake Silex. Had there been snow on this ledge, we'd have had to break out John's microspikes! We reached Peak Nine's seldom visited 13,402' summit at 2:40 pm. While there were now some puffy whites in the sky, it was still a gorgeous afternoon with no threat of rain.

On our way back down the ridge, I began descending too early in what I thought was the class 4 chimney we had climbed. While this variation probably would have worked out okay, John caught my error and I climbed back up to the ridge. I returned the favor when John was climbing past our class 3 descent gully and I confirmed with my GPS that this was where we needed to descend from the ridge to get back on the grassy ledge. From reading a previous trip report, we knew that we could significantly shorten our return to Lake Silex by crossing the Peak Eight-Peak Nine saddle instead of hiking all the way back around Peak Eight. So at the entrance to the grassy ledge, we scrambled up instead of back down the way we had come. Our only problem was that there are two saddles between Peak Eight and Peak Nine. John had scoped out the north side of the eastern saddle and said it looked like a reasonable descent to the Nine-Storm King saddle. However, from our position on the south side, getting to this saddle looked ridiculous. A close inspection of Derek's trip report revealed that he had gone through the western saddle, so that's the way we went and that route worked out great. The only problem was that the saddle put us tantalizingly close to unranked 13,228' Peak Eight.

John looked longingly at Peak Eight and he clearly wanted to go for it. Unfortunately I was dragging by this point and was really hoping to get back to camp before dark. I suggested John go for Peak Eight while I started heading back knowing that he'd almost certainly catch up to me before getting back to camp. But our limited beta on Peak Eight suggested it required class 4 and perhaps low class 5 climbing on its easiest route which was somewhere on our side of the mountain. John wisely played it safe and left Peak Eight behind as a major "orphaned" peak in the area. From the Eight-Nine saddle, we descended about 200 feet and then traversed northeast on talus slopes back to the Storm King-Nine saddle. As I was moving slowly at this point, I sent John on ahead and took my time descending to Lake Silex and back down to our camp. On a steep dirt slope below Lake Silex, I did take a minor spill, losing my footing and rolling twice before I arrested myself. Fortunately I only suffered some minor scrapes. I got back to camp at 6:40 pm just in time to cook dinner before dark. My GPS logged 8 miles and about 5500' of climbing for the day. It had been a very fun and rewarding day of climbing!

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 38 39

Comments or Questions

10/16/2015 12:28
Nice work in there on a great set of peaks, guys. My buddy Steve (Marmot72) and I got to explore this awesome area a month before you guys and hit many of the same peaks. Such a cool spot to explore, one of my all-time favorites.

We were in a similar position as you, wanting to hit Peak Six from Peak Seven but we had pretty reliable beta that the ridge between the two gets really hairy. We ended up dropping down and hitting Nine and Storm King before sucking it up and hoofing it all the way over to Peak Six in the early evening, traversing across the base of the Six/Seven ridge to the upper-Leviathan Lake area before ascending Six’s east slopes (we were camped in Leviathan, so our hike back to camp wasn’t nearly as long as it would have been had we camped in Stormy Gulch). I think traversing under the ridge line is the only reasonable way to get from the Seven/Nine/Storm King area over to Six. To be 100% honest, Six is probably best done as an add on to a Noname Basin trip, as the east slopes from Leviathan were extremely loose and sucked big time to ascend.

Anyway, congrats again on what looks like an awesome trip in there and nice pics. Cheers!


7 –> 6
10/16/2015 17:57
benners – thanks very much for helping justify our decision not to go for Six from Seven!

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