Peak(s):  Pacific Pk - 13,950 feet
Atlantic Pk - 13,841 feet
Date Posted:  08/09/2018
Date Climbed:   08/08/2018
Author:  PeakSixTD
 Rouge wave on the Pacific Crest   

On 8/7/18 I headed out to Breckenridge to meet up with Isaac Borrego to hit some 13ers. Over the next couple of days we managed to bag six 13ers including three centennials. On the first day we did the Father Dyer traverse to Crystal peak as well as Peak 10. The scrambling on this route is phenomenal and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for some fun class 3/4 climbing. I went out of my way to find as many fun lines as possible. It's definitely a choose your own adventure type of climb. It can be kept at class 3 but I found some great pitches of low to mid class 5 to entertain myself on. This served as a perfect warmup for the main event. On 8/9/18 we met up with Samuel Ziv, a recent 14er finisher and an experienced climber. We planned to do the west ridge (class 3) and traverse over to Atlantic Peak. A seemingly innocent plan... little did we know what was in store for us. Samuel and myself absolutely love alpine scrambling, particularly with some spice. Naturally we discussed going out of our way to find some more intense climbing than the class 3 that was stated in the route information. As we got closer to the ridge, we couldn't help but notice a prominent fin shaped tower in front of us. The formation seemed to be an obscure mixture of chossy garbage and solid rock with bomber holds.

Our new objective for the day

After some inspection, we decided to go for it. It was a calculated risk, and we both knew we were signing up for something pretty dangerous. Isaac wanted no part of this madness, so he traversed around the tower to spot us if necessary. We spotted a nice clean line (5.3-5.4) for pitch #1 of the day. The climb begins.

Sam on pitch 1

Yours truly nearing the top of pitch 1

The first of about 5 pitches was a blast. Nice solid rock with decent cracks running through it. The following pitches all kind of blur together at this point. I'm not exactly sure what goes where up until we were above #3.

Looking down pitch #2 . Kind of blurry

Mostly solid rock to this point

A good portion of the route

This is where things get interesting. About 15 feet above the last picture, we reached a vertical section of rock that blocked our view of anything else. The prospect of down climbing was already looking a lot more dicey than we'd have liked it to. After a brief discussion about our uncertain future, we committed to going up. The rock condition deteriorated rapidly once we reached this point. There was some very solid rock interlaced with some large slabs that were practically begging to fall. I didn't grab pictures of these maneuvers because my mind was primarily occupied with trying not to die. That's understandable, right?? Sam was leading so he topped out first. I called out to him "Does it look like it goes from where you are?" He said yes. I asked if it looked good. He hesitated for a moment and said no. Damn! Once I got up to where he was I saw what he meant. A horribly chossy knife edge lead to a seemingly unstable avenue before arriving at a decent looking summit pitch. We started to feel some anxiety. Since we hadn't heard from Isaac for a while, Sam decided to shout out to ask him about a descent from the summit. "Isaac, how does it look from over there?? Can we get down that way?" Isaac responded "Umm... I think so" Both of us simultaneously: "You THINK so??" What does that mean? Downclimbing 5.12 or just some sketchy class 3? After a few suspenseful minutes sitting on top of an airy platform, we saw Isaac's face pop up on the summit that loomed above us. YES!! That means it goes. If not, we were faced with a downclimb that made both of us feel uneasy.

Isaac looking down on us from the top. Sam beginning the knife edge. Majorly exposed.

The rock in between us and him may not look horribly steep, but it was incredibly loose, and the slope to climbers left was massively exposed. We had fantastic handholds on the wall after the knife edge, but we were too afraid to use the footholds of the avenue. 100% choss. If one of those rocks fell, it could have triggered much more. Best not to mess with it. Skirting around on the wall didn't end up being too problematic.

Sam on the summit pitch after the traverse. See the black garbage rock??

The stark contrast between the wonderful granite and the treacherous black rock (basalt?) was astounding. As long as we hugged the wall we were fine. The summit pitch was pretty solid, but relentlessly exposed. No room for mistakes here. We were both elated to be on the summit. I think i'll name this tower the Pacific Crest. I climbed it, I can name it right??

Me + some air

Even though this was definitely a risk, I'm very glad we did it. Sam and I both figured the hardest pitch (#4 below the knife edge) to go at (5.6) It was fairly short, like 13-15 feet, but had a ton of exposure. The only part that worried us was the dramatic change of rock quality after pitch #4. I felt it was within our skill level to down climb all of it, but it would have been a risk. Major thanks to Isaac for scoping out a descent route! The rest of the ridge was a blast and would have been a worthy outing by itself! I recommend the west ridge route of Pacific to everyone but recommend the tower climb to no one. We picked careful lines and ended up being just fine, but there were several other lines we contemplated from lower on the route. Once to a decent vantage point, we noticed several of those abruptly cliffed out. Yikes. If you were to come up here and mess around, BRING ROPES! Just in the event that you need them. Learn from our dumb asses. The traverse to Atlantic was enjoyable, but pretty uneventful compared to what we just did.

Atlantic. Left to right, me (Travis) Isaac, and Sam

We kicked it into high gear for the descent, since Sam had to be to work by 1. Yes, you read that right. It was an amazing couple of days for some high quality scrambling in the Ten Mile range! Having climbed all of the 14ers, I always saw the Ten Mile range as being relatively bland... As bland as alpine mountains can be anyways. The wonderful 13ers here have changed my mind 180 degrees! If you would have told me 2 years ago that my best scrambling adventure to date would be in these mountains, I would have laughed at you. Now I'm anxiously awaiting my next adventure out here! This 13er thing is pretty cool :)

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice Work!
08/10/2018 12:01
I did the standard version of the west ridge with a friend a couple of years ago (kept it at class 3). We had fun & joked about how gnarly the ridge proper would be! I'll have to show him this TR. Excellent job writing it up! I'd have to agree with you regarding the scrambling on many 13ers in this state. Here are some of my favorites:

Sangres: Tijeres to the south ridge of Music (Airy class 4, one of my favorite routes ever)
Sawatch: 13,090 to West Truro to Truro to Jack Lake (Fun class 3 & 4, jumping in a lake at 12,200 is hard to beat)
Mosquito: West Dyer to Dyer to Gemini to Sherman to Sheridan (Only the west ridge of Dyer has class 4 - but it's real good, obviously you don't have to do the whole set - my friend needed Sherman)

Thanks man
08/10/2018 15:06
I appreciate the recommendations. The West ridge of Dyer has been on my agenda for a while now. I think that's what I'll climb next. Been wanting to do music as well, i think I'll look into that route!

How not to die...
08/17/2018 12:01
1st rule. Dont climb up anything youre not sure you can get back down.

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