Peak(s):  Pacific Pk  -  13,950 feet
Atlantic Pk  -  13,841 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2016
Date Climbed:   09/03/2016
Author:  TylerBurg
 Coast to Coast via Pacific East Ridge  

Peaks: Atlantic & Pacific
Date: 9/3/2016
Start: 5:45am
TH: McCullough Gulch north
Length: ~9.5 miles RT (7 hrs)
Gain: 3,800 FT

I've been looking to do more class 3 routes on 13ers (not a huge fan of the front range 14er crowds), but not get in over my head with a harder route or extreme exposure. I searched the forums on here pretty extensively for some of the best "intro to class 3" climbs and the popular few I came across were father dyer east ridge, kelso ridge, Tour de Abyss, Longs keyhole, etc. I did father dyer a couple weekends ago and was a little underwhelmed with the lack of exposure, though it was still a lot of fun, but I was expecting a little more. Then I found Bills route description for Pacific's east ridge and I planned to it that next weekend. My wife was originally going to go with me, but she wasn't feeling well by our alarm at 3:30am, so I went solo. Left golden at 4:00am after a quick breakfast and got to the TH around 5:45am. I actually parked in a pull off at the stream instead of driving further up the road so to not have to gain a few hundred feet at the end of the hike.

Bushwhacked through some aspens up to above treeline and avoided some willows by staying on the south side of the ridge. The route is pretty steep within the first mile and a half, but flattens out a bit after 12,200.



Now approaching the ridge and class 2+ terrain. It's pretty easy going for the first half or so of the ridge.


Looking back on the ridge. I stuck to the ridge crest as much as possible, which offered some easy scrambling and occasionally some mild exposure through the first half of the ridge.


Now about 1/2 to 2/3 down the ridge there are several exposed sections that were exactly what I've been looking for in an intro to class 3 route, some good exposure, but nothing too uncomfortable and only significant on one side (can anyone weigh in on the exposure rating for this route? compared to say longs keyhole or kelso ridge?).

This tower offered the first stretch of exposed scrambling. You could avoid by going to the left, but I was here with the goal of getting more comfortable with exposure and scrambling, so stuck to the ridge crest.


The second section of more exposed scrambling.


After regaining the ridge, I took the only self portrait of the day, looking back at a fun section.


The next tower I started noticing some more loose rock and remembered in some other TRs that the crux section had more loose rock and a more difficult downclimb. Despite the loose rock I decided to carefully stay on the ridge most of the way down the tower, but then reached a very steep downclimb of 20-30 feet or so and decided to take an easier/less exposed route down due to the loose rock. Purple is the route I took and red is the downclimb I skipped.


After this section it's mostly class 2+ the rest of route. I hiked over to the northeast ridge of Pacific where I ran into the first person I had seen all day. Quick snack on Pacific summit and took a panorama with the highest elevation lake in the lower 48, pacific tarn.


Quickly made my way down the SE ridge and towards Atlantic as storms were starting to brew to the southwest. After a quick rest on Atlantic summit, I started my descent down to McCullough gulch. Descended down a pretty sketchy gully with very loose talus (route below), but once down it was easy going and trail hiking back to McCullough gulch and to the car. Of course on the way down ran into about 1000 people, kind of wished I had gone the same way I came up.


Here is a GPX track with some georeferenced photos (just the ones I took with my phone):

All in all a really fun day and I thought this was a great introduction to class 3. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to get their feet wet in some class 3 terrain. I'm definitely hooked and am going to be looking for more 13er class 3 routes!

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

 Comments or Questions

Nice first report!
09/07/2016 10:25
Hope to see more from you.


Almost Made It
09/08/2016 22:54
Yeah I know almost only counts in horseshoes, but we got too late a start from the trailhead for the East Slope route in August. This is a scenic route past the old abandoned gold mine ruins which routes around Mohawk Lake and ends up at that steep slope to the ridge. By the time we got to the slope, the storm clouds had moved in and we bailed. I like your report and this route you took, and will do this next time (and earlier)! Thanks!!

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