Peak(s):  Clinton Peak  -  13,857 feet
Wheeler Mountain  -  13,690 feet
McNamee Peak  -  13,780 feet
Traver Peak  -  13,852 feet
Bald Mountain A  -  13,684 feet
Date Posted:  08/11/2016
Modified:  08/12/2016
Date Climbed:   08/09/2016
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 Clinton Peak, Wheeler Mtn., and Bald Mtn.   

Now that my older son, Randy, has a dwindling list of unclimbed centennial peaks, he's been focusing more and more on lower 13ers, especially bicentennials. With Randy having two days off in a row, we set our sights on a centennial (Clinton Peak) and two nearby bicentennials (Wheeler Mountain and Bald Mountain).

Sunday, August 7.
After Randy's work shift was over at 7:30 PM, we drove through Fairplay and up the Boreas Pass Road (an old railroad grade) to Selkirk Campground, which was conveniently located less than five miles from the starting point for tomorrow's goal (Bald Mountain). It was 10 PM by the time we crawled into our tent for the night.

Monday, August 8.
We drove about 1/2 mile north of Boreas Pass and parked just north of Indiana Creek. From here, we hiked northeast, weaving our way around some trees until we had nothing but grassy slopes between us and the ridge between Bald Mountain and Black Powder Pass.

Approaching the ridge between Bald Mountain and Black Powder Pass. It was still early but foggy already

We reached the ridge at about 12,800 and began an easy ridgewalk over a couple of false summits. The strong winds made it feel almost like September weather.

Looking back at a false summit between Bald Mountain and Black Powder Pass

Nearing the summit of Bald Mountain (13,684')

Before long, we arrived at the summit of Bald Mountain. Not surprisingly, there was no summit register.

The summit of Bald Mountain (13,684'), with the low-lying clouds visible along the ridge to Black Powder Pass

Randy and Eddie on the summit of Bald Mountain

After enjoying the views, we headed back the way we'd come. The forecast called for a 50% chance of afternoon thunderstorms, and we definitely wanted to be off the ridge before any storms began. Once back at our car, we drove north on the Boreas Pass Road toward Breckenridge, stopping to inspect an old railroad water tank not too far north of Boreas Pass.

Bakers Tank (an old railroad water tank) on the Boreas Pass Road

The sign for Bakers Tank

From Breckenridge, we drove about a mile south of Hoosier Pass and turned onto a county road that took us above Montgomery Reservoir to the Magnolia Mill. In 1990, I drove a stock 4x4 up the road from Magnolia Mill most of the way to Wheeler Lake, but in the past 26 years the road has deteriorated significantly. It didn't take us long to decide to park Randy's stock 4Runner at the mill rather than abuse it on the Wheeler Lake road. Even if your vehicle can negotiate the numerous rocks in the road, the willows encroaching on both sides of the road are likely to scratch its paint.

Organizing our backpacks in the "parking lot" above Magnolia Mill for the 4-mile backpack to Wheeler Lake

After a quick lunch, we grabbed our backpacks and headed west on the Wheeler Lake road. About a dozen times, we had to bypass huge mud puddles by taking an informal trail through the willows next to the road. Once at Wheeler Lake, we had plenty of time to set up camp and relax before dinner. Happily, no more than a few dozen raindrops fell all afternoon.

Tuesday, August 9.
Due to a 50% chance of afternoon thunderstorms, we got an early start this morning.

The early morning view toward Wheeler Mountain from our campsite at the south end of Wheeler Lake

By the time we reached the west end of Wheeler Lake, headlamps were no longer needed. From Wheeler Lake, we headed NNW up grass and rock to a small unnamed lake at 12,350', continued NNW another couple hundred vertical feet, and then angled left (west) to the 13,340' saddle south of Wheeler Mountain.

Wheeler Mountain from the west end of Wheeler Lake

Looking SE across the small lake at 12,350'. This lake isn't visible from Wheeler Lake

We headed up the grass & rock to the saddle seen at left. Wheeler Mountain's summit is out of sight just right of ce

After reaching the 13,340' saddle, we could see Clinton Peak about two miles down the ridge

Once on the ridge, we headed north, bypassing a few ridge spires on the left (west). This was the most fun scrambling of the day. After going over a couple of false summits, we arrived at the summit of Wheeler Mountain (13,690').

North Star Mountain (13,614') is at the far left of this photo from Wheeler Mountain's summit and can be climbed wi

Randy on the summit of Wheeler Mountain

Eddie on the summit of Wheeler Mountain

After taking a break on Wheeler Mountain's summit, we headed back along the ridge past the 13,340' saddle south of Wheeler and continued southwest and west toward Clinton Peak. Once past the saddle, the ridge is fairly straightforward.

Looking SW along the ridge toward the 13,820' ridge bump east of Clinton Peak (right)

From the 13,820' ridge bump east of Clinton Peak (13,857'), it was an easy walk to Clinton's summit.

The summit of Clinton Peak

The Climax molybdenum mine from the summit of Clinton Peak. What's left of Bartlett Mountain is visible to the right

Mt. Democrat (left), Traver Peak, and McNamee Peak from the summit of Clinton Peak

Another 25 minutes along the ridge brought us to our next summit, McNamee Peak (13,780').

We found a lot of trash on the summit of McNamee Peak. (What you see in this photo isn't all of it)

After exploring the mess that some organization had left behind on McNamee Peak, we headed SE along the ridge to our final summit: Traver Peak (13,852'). None of the peaks today had summit registers, by the way.

An unusual summit cairn on Traver Peak

The weather was holding, but we didn't want to spend too much time on Traver Peak. We headed down Traver's gentle NE ridge into the basin east of McNamee Peak and continued NE toward Wheeler Lake. A steep descent to the lake followed by a short walk along the lake brought us back to our campsite.

Breaking camp at Wheeler Lake; Wheeler Mountain is in the background above Wheeler Lake

While we were packing up, a first-generation 4Runner arrived. It was in great condition (rebuilt engine only 5000 miles ago, according to the owner), and we just had to take a photo.

First-generation 4Runner at Wheeler Lake with Mt. Lincoln in the background

We had some light rain the final 20 or 30 minutes to our car, but we didn't mind since we'd gotten all four peaks today. After a stop for pizza in Lake George, we drove home, already thinking about which peaks to tackle next.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Looks like
08/15/2016 06:39
a nice outing. Ruth and I were going for Bald above Black Powder Pass a few weeks ago, but didn't make the summit due to weather.

09/24/2016 20:26
For the beta! I had already planned an ascent of Wheeler... then the thought occurred to add another peak or 3. Your report was at the top of the list. It gave ample details on the route; I'm a little jealous I didn't camp (I day hiked) at the lake. That area is wonderful! Thanks again!

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