Peak(s):  Clark Pk A  -  13,580 feet
PT 13,060 B  -  13,060 feet
"Electric Pass Pk"  -  13,635 feet
PT 13,631  -  13,631 feet
PT 13,180 B  -  13,180 feet
Date Posted:  11/22/2017
Date Climbed:   09/19/2017
Author:  SnowAlien
 Fall Elk Hunting II   

Clark Peak and PT 13,060B

Dates: September 10-12, 2017
Trailhead: Snowmass Creek

Day 1 - approach to Moon Lake
6 miles, 3,000 ft gain, 5 hours

The original plan was to scout the approach to Moon lake and to repeat Capitol with my friend Will. We rendezvoused at Snowmass Creek TH around noon and after brief confusion, set out on the classic 14er trail towards Snowmass lake. After a mile or so we left the beautiful trail (sigh), waded the creek and commenced switchbacking towards West Snowmass drainage. After leaving the Haystack mountain trail, trail finding got a bit more complicated and we both burned valuable energy. We pushed on and after 5 hours of travel set the camp @11.1k, some 600 feet below the Moon lake, and just as it was starting to hail. Will wasn't feeling very well on the approach, and I suggested he would take a rest day next day, while I tag Clark (and possibly 13,060B as well).

Day 2 - Clark peak
3 miles, 2,700 ft gain, 8 hours

The next morning, I woke up in the dark, and set out from camp at first light just before 6 am. The endless talus hop commenced. Although I felt like I was moving pretty well, the stats showed otherwise. I guess I am much slower on talus than on more solid surface. It took me almost full hour to reach the Moon lake and another 2 hours to the ridge with Clark.

Morning at the Moon lake

Looking back at the lake and the endless talus field

30 sec of crack - for a longer crack I better head to the Indian Creek

Snowmass across the valley

The ridge ahead

Exposure to the Pierre lake

Exposure on the other side

Another look at the ridge


Traverse to 13,060B didn't look particularly inviting

After signing the register, I reversed my steps back to the saddle, which thankfully went a little quicker. I also had entertained hopes to add Daly, but with deteriorating weather I decided to head back to camp and to check up on Will. Shortly after I got to camp, it started hailing with thunder and lightning and wouldn't stop for 2 hours. Unfortunately, Will still wasn't feeling strong and was planning to hike out the next day. With the change of plans, I decided to skip Capitol and instead hike Pt 13,060B, as it would require the repeat of the approach.

Day 3 - UN 13,060 B + backpack out
3 miles, 2,700 ft gain/loss, 8 hours + 6 miles, 3,000 ft descent, 3.5 hours

Next morning, I woke up earlier and left the camp by 5.20 am. Sunrise had me above the Moon lake gaining the pass. Thankfully, the other side of the saddle was grass, so I got a brief respite from talus, but not for long. Instead of climbing the gully, which was just loose unsupportive dirt with some black ice on the apron (clearly a snow route), I scrambled up some class 3-4 to the right side, which took me to the ridge. With minimal effort at route finding, I didn't think my route exceeded Class 4 (loose at times). The final bit of ridge traverse was airy and exposed, but seemed fairly solid. I got to the summit by 10 am. After a longish summit stay, I reversed the route and was back at camp shortly after 2pm. Backpack out took another 3.5 hours, which was quicker than on the way in. La Sportiva Ultra Raptors (or any other shoe with great cushioning) made the endless talus hop somewhat more bearable. With any of my other hiking shoes, I'd be limping.

Daly at sunrise

13,060B comes into view

Climbing the right side of the loose dirt gully

Solid slabs near the top of the ridge

Clark and Capitol

Bells got snow/hail from the prior night's storm

Exiting the mud gully

Descent from the pass back to Moon lake

Daly after reclimbing the saddle

Electric Pass Peak

Date: September 18, 2017
Trailhead: Cathedral lake

With the weather being stormy, more ambitious plans were shelved and I decided to hike EPP, after all, it is a top-200 peak. Incidentally, it also ended up being my 250th ranked 13er summit, and was a good place for reflection. Besides, any day spent staring at Cathedral is a good day.

Malamute and Cathedral lake

So. Many. Lines

UN 13,631 (Len Shoemaker pk) and UN 13,180 B

Date: September 19, 2017
Vertical: 4,600 ft
Distance: ~12 miles
Time: 12 hours
Trailhead: Maroon lake

That day wind gusts were forecasted to approach 60 mph, which certainly gave me a pause with the exposed ridge hike. Not a fan of high winds, I still decided to give it a go, and maybe duck behind the ridge if necessary. Pretty much how it all played out. Not an early riser, I set out from the parking lot at 7 am, past a long line of photographers at the lake. The familiar trail went as expected and I took a break at the Thunder Pyramid turnoff, preparing for the uphill grunt. By that point, the winds was still just a breeze and I was almost completely shielded in the Len Shoemaker basin. As I was approaching the Lightning-UN 13,631 saddle I could finally feel the brunt of the wind and also encountered snow. My strategy for the rest of the day was to avoid (with mixed results) the snowy NE aspect and to stay on the leeward (SW) side, which was bone dry.

UN 13,631 on the left

Ridge to UN 13,631

Looking back to the ridge with Lightning and Thunder

Ridge to UN 13,180B

Since the winds were manageable thus far (~12.30 pm), I decided to give the ridge traverse to UN 13,180 B a go. Almost immediately, winds became a huge annoyance and forced some downclimbing between gusts. At least that section of the ridge was dry. Upon getting to the Notch, I should have went left, but made the mistake of going right, and was bogged down in a snowy and very windy traverse for awhile. It was the sketchiest part of the ridge for me. Once back up on the ridge, I firmly decided to stick with the left side, as it provided a respite from wind which by now sounded like a freight train. By the time I reached the summit ~2.45 pm, the winds were knocking me down if I ventured on the east face. I was hoping the south ridge of UN 13,180B would be easier, and it was, not exceeding Class 3. Then just an endless talus gully hop that took me down to the valley floor and hard-to-escape bogs of the Maroon creek. Finally on the solid trail by 5 pm, it was time to turn on afterburners and crank out the remaining miles, arriving at the car by 7pm.

Ridge downclimb off UN 13,631

The Notch

Notch bypass

Remaining ridge traverse to UN 13,180B

Gully upclimb - low Class 5, which took me back to the top of the ridge

Remaining route

10-yr old register with plenty recognizable names

Bells on the descent

Descent gully

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

Comments or Questions

Great report and reflection.
11/22/2017 22:40
I climbed Clark, 13,631, and EPP this October and you captured them perfectly. The Elk range is magic. Thanks for sharing!


The Elks are enticing...
11/23/2017 07:06
...aren't they?! And you make them look even more so! Some of those ridges look super fun, albeit a little precarious. Great report, Natalie! And thanks for sharing!


11/23/2017 08:15
Nice write up with some great pictures Natalie! Elks are beautiful but at times very loose. Well done!


11/26/2017 17:52
Stratosfearsome- thanks. Elks are magic, any season, but especially in snow.
MtnHub - a little precarious ridges they are indeed! Elks even have a peak named Precarious. It sure looks like one (haven't done that one yet though).
Vadim - I was hoping maybe to connect Clark and UN 13,060, but when I got to the summit, I could see the ridge being very difficult. Very loose is a fair assessment when dry, especially on less frequently traveled ridges.
Jay - thank you as always! Glad you enjoyed the pics.


11/24/2017 16:58
You always put up the coolest pics and reports... Where's my envy font?


Elks are magic...
11/27/2017 16:30
What a nice trip, Nat. Very cool and nice work.


08/09/2018 14:18
Glad you made it back safe Nat.

08/19/2020 15:11
Nice report and absolutely wonderful photographs.

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