Peak(s):  Sultan Mtn  -  13,368 feet
Grand Turk  -  13,180 feet
Date Posted:  01/14/2018
Date Climbed:   01/06/2018
Author:  piper14er
 Little Molas Lake - Little Snow  

So little snow but such a long drive...



I had noticed mattpayne11's report from back a few months ago about how little snow there was on these peaks but forgot about it until just before Christmas I noticed the Snotel sites around Silverton showing up as white circles. Less than 18 inches of snow...hmmm. Well between some ailments and my wife's surgery I could not go before or anywhere over the holidays, probably lost out on the lack of snow I figured. A few days before last weekend it still looked to be dry. I contacted Matt who indeed confirmed that was still the case. Despite being sick (ear infection, upper respiratory) I decided I could not pass up getting a couple of winter 13ers.. Okay I had to go and when I looked there was still a window on Saturday for decent weather. Snow was coming in Saturday evening. It was supposed to snow 5-7 inches Saturday night.

Lined out our animal care lady, Jenny, and made the 6 1/2 hour drive down to my favorite car camp spot, south of Ouray at the Bear Creek trailhead on Highway 550. I have camped here more than a few times now and it is quiet, a few cars drive by a night, and has so far been twenty degrees warmer than below or above at the pass. Did not have to freeze up.

Woke up about 5:00 am Saturday morning and drove over the pass to the Little Molas Lake road.

It was still dark until around 7:00 but Billie Jean and I started up the road (campground closed and the gate locked right at Hwy 550) and hiked up the road to a minor trail that takes off to the right before you get to the Colorado Trail sign.

We followed the trail for a while, lost and found it several times before coming out in the basin between West Turkshead and the peak to the right. There are trails on both sides of the creek but at one point we crossed over to the right side and found the trail on that side.

The trail up the basin is much better defined as you head up and over the saddle/notch.

Once there you can start to see the way ahead but you have to get around unranked Spencer before seeing Grand Turk. I had intended to walk up Spencer on the way back not much vertical, but the weather had turned and thought I have enough unranked 13ers.

The weather way fine going up with some intermittent sun and a slight breeze but that changed once we made it to Sultan and it socked in with a good 40 mph winds whipping ice crystals and snow about.

Due to the weather and not feeling as well as I could I opted to head down and skipped the 12er. The 12er is not too far away at all but I had not been at elevation (above 13000) in several months and it was clouded in at the time I was going by. Once back down and over the saddle there was not any wind or much snow. It had however laid down a dusting of snow all the way back down to the car.

These two peaks are gentle giants but even though the way to the top is a Class 2 the peaks definitely have character, with the views from their vertical faces and from afar are spectacular.

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Early light


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part of a trail


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sunlight trying to make it over the peaks


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heading up


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frozen creek


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a first look at the basin


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the well defined trail below the saddle


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a look back down


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just below the saddle


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drainage above the saddle as it levels out


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making our way through the drainage


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the trail and rock


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a view to enjoy


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Sultan


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the trail below Spencer and looking ahead towards Gran Turk


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another look at Sultan with the return trail cutting across the slopes


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heading for Grand Turk first


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closing in


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the summit of Grand Turk


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views east


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more views


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excellent view of the route from Grand Turk to Sultan


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Silverton


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a good look back from the Sultan ridge


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summit of Sultan


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shrouded Silverton


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back down


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may have seen this tree before...


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the town of Silverton


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ice climbing??


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driving home along Blue Mesa


The Snotel at Red Mountain Pass the day before this hike was 17", today after reaching 34" a few days ago, it is now 30". The Snotel by Molas Lake was 2", now 17" of snow.



teaser

hope to put together my Game of Peaks from 2017

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Dragon


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scarier dragon


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Dothraki


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Dothrocky

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 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35


 Comments or Questions
Jay521

Great to see...
01/15/2018 07:02
... Billie Jean taking you up some mountains again, Al. I enjoyed this report a lot.


Tornadoman

Great work...
01/15/2018 10:36
Getting out even though you weren't feeling great. Looks like a very worthwhile day, don't see many 13er TRs from the San Juans in calendar winter.


piper14er

thanks
01/15/2018 13:21
guys for reading and the nice comments


coltex
coltex
01/18/2018 18:37
Did this track about 5 yrs ago in aug. Think i was more comfortable than you.
Thanks for a good report & pics.

Old Goat


piper14er

appreciate the comment
01/19/2018 12:35
it is a nice hike, glad to see you are still out there hiking Old Goat, Never Stop Exploring, right



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