Peak(s):  Sniktau, Mt  -  13,234 feet
"Cupid"  -  13,117 feet
Grizzly Pk D  -  13,427 feet
Date Posted:  07/24/2016
Date Climbed:   07/23/2016
Author:  rajz06
 Solitude on Sniktau  

Starting Point: Loveland Pass, Elevation: ~11,990'
Peaks Climbed in order of ascent: Mt. Sniktau (13,234), "Cupid" (13,117'), Grizzly Peak D (13,427')
Route: Lower east slopes and southwest ridge ascent of Mt. Sniktau, ridge traverse to "Cupid" and northwest ridge to Grizzly, re-ascent of Sniktau on return
RT Distance: ~9.7 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: ~4,180 feet (per Google Maps)
Group: Solo

The only vehicle at my disposal this weekend was one with rear wheel drive and a whopping 4.5 inches of clearance so I knew my 13er exploration would be somewhat limited. Grizzly D has been on my radar for a while now so an ascent from Loveland Pass seemed like the perfect outing.

View of Grizzly shortly into the hike

"Cupid", a ranked 13er is en route and came gratis. Mt. Sniktau is a detour northeast from the saddle so I chose to add that. One caveat - I needed to get 3,000 vertical feet on every summit which is not easy in this outing due to the high trailhead elevation.

Class 1 Trail

In fact, the northwest ridge route to Grizzly rings in at just under 3,000' despite the ascent of "Cupid". So I decided to make Sniktau the first peak thereby ensuring the requisite elevation gain to reach Grizzly; since "Cupid" can be re-summitted on the return, the criterion would be met for that as well.

Atop the saddle, viewing the route to Sniktau

Which left me with Sniktau; the logical choice of re-ascending Sniktau on the return was thus made and the agenda was final.

First hump en route to Sniktau

Atop the first hump, viewing the remaining route

More ambitious climbers may have chosen to add Lenawee Mountain to the trio. This would make for a long day due to the technical ridge connecting Grizzly and said peak, not to mention the route finding required on that traverse and the return. The best way to add Lenawee would be to set up a car shuttle at A-basin and descend off Lenawee's northwest ridge - not feasible for a solo artist like yours truly.

Ridge traverse to Cupid, Grizzly and Lenawee

The proximity of these mountains to Denver and the fact that there is a solid Class 1 trail to Mt. Sniktau meant that hikers were out in large numbers today. Despite the crowds, I made it to my first summit in just over fifty minutes to enjoy the views on a clear day.

Unnamed lake with Torreys providing the backdrop

Rugged peaks to the west

The route to Grizzly goes over numerous bumps including "Cupid", a ranked 13er.

Bumps en route to Grizzly

The trail itself skirts the broad summit of Cupid to the west shoulder (hiker's right) and then drops off on the east slope; I stuck to the trail for the most part since I knew I would be summiting the "peak" on my return to make the official 3,000 foot gain.

Trail skirts around Cupid's summit

Past Cupid, there is another 150 foot bump before the trail plummets down to the final saddle at ~12,750' setting up for a solid 700 feet of gain up to Grizzly's summit.

One more bump

Trail descends to final saddle

A couple of hikers can be spotted atop the false summit in the next shot.

700 foot ascent over 0.4 miles

The next shot captures the steepness of the final pitch. Two hikers can be spotted dead center, making their way up the ridge.

Looking down Grizzly's northwest ridge

The pitch was steep but the terrain was solid and footing was never an issue.

Nearing the summit

About twenty minutes after leaving the saddle, I was treated to a fine view of Grays and Torreys.

Grays and Torreys from Grizzly's summit

An unnamed lake above 12,200' in the lovely basin between Grizzly and Lenawee.

Unnamed lake

In the distance to the southwest, my eyes wandered to the more majestic peaks of the Tenmile range, Pacific in particular with its distinguishing notch.

High peaks of the Tenmile range

Even farther in that general direction, I could spot the still lingering cross on Mount of the Holy Cross, the northernmost of the Sawatch range.

Holy Cross Mtn. and Ridge

I then gazed over to the gnarly ridge to Lenawee and acknowledged that it will just have to wait for another day.

Rugged ridge to Lenawee

Then I spotted a hiker jaunting up from the saddle with Torreys. He had made it all the way to that 14er's summit and was returning to Loveland Pass. The trip to that peak alone had taken him four hours and he was carrying a fairly heavy backpack, no doubt training for even harder hikes to come. He is seen making his way down Grizzly's ridge in the shot below.

Hiker returning down Grizzly's ridge

Momentarily, another hiker approached, also from the direction of Torreys and is seen in the shot below.

Hiker coming up from the saddle with Torreys

She and her companion had attempted Torreys and decided to bail partway on the ascent up the steep slope. Apparently, this was their second attempt at Torreys and they were zero for two! I chatted with them for awhile, regaling them with my own misadventures in the mountains. After all, there is no shame in turning around if the conditions are not right, be it the conditions of the mountain, the weather, or your own. Unless, you're this furry fella and you're perfectly at home even in this inhospitable terrain!

Marmot on the rocks

Or this cheeky chap who quickly scampered over the ridge and hid under this little cave that appeared to be made just for him!

He's safe in there

After twenty odd minutes of spotting marmots and exchanging stories with my new friends (the humans, not the marmots), we decided to head back down. I tried to talk them into going for Mt. Sniktau; evidently I'm not very convincing in these situations. Admittedly, they'd already had a long day what with their attempt at Torreys; plus this route does have its share of bumps!

Elevation profile

I parted ways with them and, on the return, I stayed on the ridge to ascend directly over Cupid's acme - still technically, only the second peak of the day if you're a stickler for the 3,000 foot rule.

Going for Cupid's summit

Descending off Cupid, I had my eyes set on a re-ascent of Mt. Sniktau per the original plan. After all, the weather had held out nicely, despite a few threatening clouds, so why not?

Surveying the route to Sniktau (2nd time)

Some four hours earlier, during my first ascent of Sniktau, I had to the share the trail with several fellow hikers, somewhat atypical for me considering the mountains to which I normally venture usually have no trails, let alone humans! This time around, however, I had most of the route and eventually the summit to myself. Oh, and these three winged companions! Imagine a world where we could all co-exist peacefully - marmots, grouse, humans (of all color)...Oh My!

Can you spot all three?

Pettingel to Citadel to Hagar Traverse

Yours truly

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

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

07/28/2016 18:06
You always have an interesting route choice, Raj. I have been up that way several times and never thought of doing Sniktau twice. Nice job maxing out the verts.

Excellent Report
08/01/2016 16:57
Thanks for posting such an informative and interesting report. I'm planning on doing this same hike in two weeks.

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