Peak(s):  PT 13,050  -  13,050 feet
Date Posted:  09/26/2017
Modified:  12/04/2019
Date Climbed:   09/16/2017
Author:  Jay521
 Tin Cup Pass fun  

And I'm never driving that road again


Trailhead: CDT/CT trail off Tin Cup Pass Road
Route: Trail to saddle, then up to the summit
Length: About 9 miles
Vertical: 2800 feet?
Partners: Solo

There are 4 13ers that can be easily accessed from Tin Cup Pass. One would think that one could get them all in one trip - two trips tops. Well, it took me four. First time, I didn't realize just how rough the Tin Cup Pass road is and got a very late start meaning I only had time to catch Fitzpatrick. Second time, I took some folks from Dallas who were in town and we moved so slow, all we could get was Tin Cup Peak. I went back the following weekend with designs on Emma Burr and PT13,050 but weather coming in made me cut short of catching PT13,050. So, FINALLY, I went back up and got PT13,050 by itself. To make it more interesting, I chose to follow the Continental Divide Trail/Colorado Trail to the final saddle below PT13,050. That added a couple miles and allowed me to skip the drive to the Sawmill Hill parking area at least.

Turned out to be a fun day and I'm glad I did it using the route I chose. But I will be quite happy to never drive the Tin Cup Pass road again. It's rough and one needs fair clearance to do it, although GreenhouseGuy did it in a RAV4 - he is obviously a much more accomplished 4X4 driver than I am as I managed to scrape the skid plates on my FJ more than once.

The CDT/CT crosses the Tin Cup Pass Road about 4 miles from St. Elmo. It is very apparent where it crosses.

Signage on the left side of the road (where the CDT/CT continues south)

And a parking area on the right hand side of the road that holds probably 6 vehicles. The trail continues north from just behind my FJ.

The CDT/CT is a well marked and maintained trail
A really nice bridge at the start of the trail.

A well maintained trail the whole way.

And nice views to the south

You eventually break out of the trees and can see the switchbacks up to the saddle to the left of PT12602
Switchbacks ahead.

Views from that saddle
Looking west towards Tin Cup Pass

Looking northeast at PT13050

And a "God Spoke" cloud

The trail then stays fairly level as it curves around towards the saddle between Tin Cup Peak and PT13050.

And then it started to snow...
At least the snow makes the trail stand out...

Although it didn't snow all that much - just a trace, really - it did make the rock-hopping up PT13050 a little more challenging that it normally would have been.

The CDT/CT crosses above and to the west of the saddle between Tin Cup Peak and PT13050 so from there on, it's mostly rock hopping. There are a couple opportunities for a little scrambling but with the snow dusting, I passed on that.

The rest of the route to the top.

Talus hopping ahead.

And some vegetation mixed in.

Rocks, rocks, rocks

Every now and then, the clouds would open up and give me some nice views down the valley.



And then the summit - or what I thought was the summit...
What I thought was the summit

Turns out there are several rock mounds on the flat summit as you will see in the following short vid. (yeah - it was a tad windy...)

And then I spotted this one that had a small cairn on the top and sure enough, there was a register. It had been recently placed (July) and mine was the 3rd signature on it.
The true summit

I didn't stay long on the summit as the wind was more than a little irritating. Naturally, as I started down, the wind subsided and the snow melted off and it turned into a very nice day. That did allow me to get some better pictures on the way down, though.

In the following shot, you will see the area where the trail stays fairly level - the small saddle I spoke of earlier is on the left side of the photo - just above a small patch of snow. The trail drops some from there and they stays level all the way around to the right hitting the ridge I'm on just out of frame to the right.

Trying to get a good picture of Emma Burr on the way down.

And a nice view of the valley and PT13,050 from the level portion of the trail.

Looking down at where I parked

And a zoom on my FJ

Spotted this mushroom on the way down - it was almost the size of a football and brought a line from White Rabbit to mind (yeah, I'm old...)
Some kinda mushroom...

As I don't carry a GPS, this is an approximation of my route.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and please be careful out there.

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

 Comments or Questions

that road
09/26/2017 16:55
Jay - by "that road" are you talking about the 4WD road west of St. Elmo to where you parked? Is that pretty slow going for a 4WD? Nice report!


09/26/2017 20:07
Nice write up with good information and some great pictures! Well done on those peaks!


Lots of 13ers!
09/26/2017 21:09
Did not realize there were so many in that area, I'll have to add them to my lists
Thanks for writing it up!


09/26/2017 22:01
Hoot - yeah, that's the road. I can't believe GreenhouseGuy did it in a Rav4. It isn't super gnarly by any means, but there are rocks. Lots of rocks. Lots of BIG rocks. Just when you think the road is getting better, it turns sour again. The first time up, it took me just shy of an hour to do the 6 miles to the top of the pass. Only took about 35 minutes to do the 4 miles to the CDT TH this last time. Nice area, tho.

Vadim - I appreciate your kind thoughts!

Kitten - They are all pretty mellow. Nice views - just a crummy road...


09/26/2017 22:29
good beta on a rarely hiked peak


09/27/2017 04:19
Yeah, that can make or break a good hike. When I was out there in 2014 it seemed like wherever I was, I was mostly fighting a strong gale against me. But nice to see it didn't stop you. We'll have to connect again next year! Stay tuned!


More thanks
09/27/2017 08:38
Trotter - I appreciate the compliment. It was a fun hike.

Doug - It wasn't the "knock you off your feet" wind, thankfully. But it did make things a little less pleasant. And I'll be ready for whatever adventure you have in mind next year.


09/27/2017 09:37
you need a nice dog, preferably a border collie, to hike with you, cheers Billie Jean (then you really would not need a gps, just a nose)


Nice Summit
09/27/2017 11:26
Well-written Trip Report too. Thanks so much for posting the quality 13er route beta Jay. Excellent work with reaching this cool peak. Way to go. Information regarding these types of Colorado mountaineering lines is great having. Keep climbing safe, smart, and strong


Even more thanks...
09/27/2017 12:31
Al - I don't suppose you rent out Billie Jean? I have a 100# black lab that would likely follow his nose, but that nose seldom leads me where I want to go.

Jason - thanks for the compliment. Coming from someone who writes such killer reports, that is much appreciated.


You should see the other side
10/01/2017 19:49
If you think the east side of Tincup pass is bad, you should see the west side. Much nastier road.


The other side of the road.
10/02/2017 08:27
Yeah - I heard that side was worse. Don't think I'll be driving that side any time soon - at least not before I buy an ATV....

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