Peak(s):  Wasatch Mtn  -  13,555 feet
La Junta Pk  -  13,472 feet
PT 13,145 A  -  13,145 feet
PT 13,540 B  -  13,540 feet
Fowler Pk  -  13,498 feet
"S 6"  -  13,441 feet
Date Posted:  09/20/2016
Modified:  10/01/2020
Date Climbed:   09/10/2016
Author:  Mtnman200
 Telluride Tricentennials   

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016
I drove to Bridal Veil Falls above Telluride, making sure to arrive early enough to snag one of the few places to park at the trailhead. After following the trail south up Bridal Veil Creek, I left the trail at about 11,800' and headed west toward the Wasatch Mtn. (13,555') - La Junta Peak (13,472') saddle, more or less following the creek west toward the pass.

Old water pipeline along the creek in Bridal Veil Basin; you can see pipe sections at the far left and upper right

Wasatch Mtn (left) and La Junta from Bridal Veil Basin. A trail approaches the pass from the south and continues over the pass to La Junta Basin

The ridge to Wasatch Mountain couldn't be any easier. Okay, it could be, if the ridge was grassy

Once at the saddle, it took about 45 minutes to reach the summit of Wasatch Mtn. The makeshift register included some familiar names (Traveling Matt, Bergsteigen, Gerry Roach, the Finns, etc.). I didn't spend a lot of time on the summit before heading back toward the Wasatch - La Junta saddle.

La Junta Peak from just above the Wasatch - La Junta saddle. You can see the trail going over the saddle

La Junta Peak was even easier than Wasatch Mtn., and I killed some time on the summit enjoying the view before heading on to my next objective, Unnamed 13145 (informally called "Jackass Point" by some because it looks down upon Jackass Basin.)

Unnamed 13,145 (Jackass Point) from the summit of La Junta Peak

It was a relaxing walk south along the ridge to "Jackass Point," although there was a small cliff that had to be bypassed on the west side of the ridge. While I was eating an early lunch on the summit of "Jackass Point," I noticed that Dallas Peak looks especially impressive from here.

For the descent, I headed a few hundred feet south along the ridge toward La Junta Peak until I could see an easy way to descend southeast mostly on grass toward Jackass Basin.

Looking up toward La Junta Peak from my descent route

Once I was down in the basin and heading east, I noticed what looked like an old building. This required closer inspection.

Looking east down Jackass Basin toward Bridal Veil Creek. An old building can be seen in the photo's center

The old building turned out to be a miner's cabin. It was rather nice in its day but now needs some work

My topo map showed a mine trail that I expected to find at about 11,800'. Either the trail has faded away over the years, or my eyesight has faded away over the years. Probably both. Regardless, I didn't find the trail and ended up bushwhacking down terrain that at times was fairly steep. Eventually, I crossed Bridal Veil Creek and climbed a short distance to the trail (road) and headed back to the trailhead.

Heading down the road to Bridal Veil Falls

Blue = ascent route; red = descent route from Jackass Point

I drove through Telluride and toward the Rock of Ages trailhead, stopping to set up camp about 0.6 mile short of the trailhead. My goals for tomorrow: UN 13540 and "Big Bear Peak" (13,498'). Both peaks are on the ridge north of Navajo Basin, across the basin from El Diente. I was looking forward to some good views tomorrow. ("Big Bear Peak" was officially named Fowler Peak in March 2019.)

Friday, Sept. 9, 2016
I drove the short distance to the ROA trailhead and debated which route to take today. The options were to take the ROA trail for 1/2 mile and then the Elk Creek trail to School Bus Basin and then ascend "Big Bear Peak," or take the ROA trail to the ROA saddle and then head up the ridge to UN 13540. I chose the latter, figuring the ROA trail would be easier to follow in the early morning darkness.

The ridge to UN 13540 as seen from Rock of Ages saddle

The ridge to UN 13540 involved a fun but easy scramble and then a walk along the ridge to the summit, where Terri Horvath had left a makeshift summit register on 8/16/14. I continued on toward "Big Bear Peak," where all sorts of challenges awaited.

"Big Bear Peak" (13,498') (left); taken not too far from the summit of UN 13540

As I got closer to "Big Bear Peak," the ridge got rougher...

...and rougher

Eventually, it was no longer practical to stay on the ridge, so I contoured to my left (south) and found myself in a steep gully I had to ascend carefully due to the loose rock/loose handhold/loose foothold danger. From the top of the gully, it was a short distance to the summit of "Big Bear Peak." (Note: I looked at Furthermore's trip report when I got home, and it appears I climbed a gully further west than he did. Whatever it takes...)

The summit of "Big Bear Peak"

The summit register contained 40 signatures since it was placed on 8/14/10, but only one in 2015 and one earlier in 2016. This is a seldom-visited summit that seems to receives less traffic every year.

El Diente from the summit of Big Bear Peak

I descended carefully and traversed back to the ridge. I headed west until I could see an obvious gully that dropped into School Bus Basin. I found a number of large rocks that were ready to move if you looked at them funny, so I would not recommend this as an ascent route. It was okay as a descent route, but far from making the top ten list of my favorite descent routes of all time.

Looking down into School Bus Basin. That's not an official name and the bus was removed in 2014, but I like the name anyway

I intercepted the road in the basin and followed it until I returned to the ROA trail. Back at my car, I fired up my stove and cooked a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Re-energized, I drove toward Ridgway and then to Blue Lakes Trailhead. I found a nice campsite near the trailhead, though there were a lot of people in the area -- it's Friday afternoon -- and thankfully the crowd was not a noisy one.

Blue = ascent route via the Rock of Ages Trail; red = descent route past where the school bus had been

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
After hiking about 3 miles to Blue Lakes, I left the trail and ascended west through the trees until I had a clear view of the S3 - S5 saddle.

Looking down at lower Blue Lake

Heading west toward the 13,055' S3 - S5 saddle

Looking up at S4 (13,242') (Taken from the same location as the previous photo)

I climbed to the S3 - S5 saddle and got my first view of today's goal: S6 (13,441'). After descending to about 12,600', I contoured until I reached a couloir that climbed all the way to the ridge east of S6. The correct couloir can be identified as the one that gets wider as it climbs toward the ridge. You should also be able to see up the couloir all the way to the ridge.

Mears Peak (13,496') and S6 (13,441')

There's no shortage of rocks of all shapes and sizes (and stability) on S6. Mears Peak is visible at the far left

A closer look at Mears Peak from S6

I headed west up the ridge, occasionally moving left onto S6's south face as necessary. Eventually, the path of least resistance brought me back to the ridge a short distance from the summit. I hadn't expected S6 to receive many visitors, but there were far fewer signatures in the makeshift register than I'd expected: four (including mine) in just under the past five years.

The S6 register has one signature in 2012, two in 2014, none in 2013 and 2015, and one in 2016

The summit of S6 with a view of Mears Peak west along the ridge

Initially, I'd planned to add S4 on my way back to the Blue Lakes trail but decided to skip it. That'll give me an excuse to visit this beautiful area again.

Route to S6 from the Blue Lakes Trail

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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