Peak(s):  Rosalie Pk  -  13,575 feet
Epaulet Mtn  -  13,523 feet
"Epaulie"  -  13,530 feet
Date Posted:  09/04/2018
Modified:  07/03/2019
Date Climbed:   08/29/2018
Author:  Chelsea
 Evans' Little Sisters - Rosalie Group from Mt Evans Road  

I have spent the entire summer trying to get out and hike as much as possible, but it never feels like enough. Last summer was the actual worst for me, as I injured both feet attempting a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail, to the point where I couldn't walk more than 3 miles without terrible foot pain. That obviously put a damper on any hiking and backpacking plans for the rest of the year. Even though my podiatrist told me that the only way to "quickly" get my feet to heal was to be on bed rest for a few months (uh, no thanks...), I assumed (incorrectly) that my feet would be super healed and ready to go for 2018! I max out at about 9 miles right now, with bearable pain (there's still pain but I don't cry, so that's progress, right?). Definitely not healed, but manageable. And so, I have to find routes that fit my needs.

Disclaimers:

  • I don't worry about getting the required 3000' of gain per peak or group of peaks. Most of the time, I quite literally can't walk far enough to obtain that much gain. But yes, I still "count" it.
  • This is my first trip report. I have read so many wonderful reports on here that give me such wanderlust. I hope this lives up to all of your expectations!
  • If your doctor tells you to do something...maybe listen?

But enough about that, now for the important stuff. I have been enamored with the Mount Evans area for the last few years, and once my high peak obsession started, I decided to work on summiting all 11 of the high peaks in the immediate vicinity (ranked & unranked). Before I completed this trip, I had 4 left. The standard route for the Rosalie Group (Rosalie, Epaulie, Epaulet), at 13 miles, is much longer than what I could comfortably do in a single day, so I thought that I would have to postpone these 3 until 2019. Then I happened upon this report that cut that distance in half, making these doable for me! I followed his route pretty closely, except I parked in a large pullout just below the Tour d'Abyss switchback. Here are my trip details:

19006_20

I started early on a Wednesday morning, driving up Mount Evans Road during sunrise. The smoky air turned everything pink during first light, and I seriously regret not pulling over to snap some photos. By the time I reached the parking area, the sun had already come up and washed away any remaining pink hues. I parked around 6:40am with only one other vehicle in the pullout and plenty of room for 5 or so more cars. This early in the morning, you beat all of the tourist traffic and will have no problem finding parking in any lot along the Mount Evans Road.

Once I parked, I had my first view of the three peaks I'd be climbing. Rosalie on the left, then Epaulie, and Epaulet on the far right. (Epaulet's high point is actually just out of the picture.)

19006_19

Fun fact, the white spot in the sky towards the middle of the picture is actually a tiny cloud and NOT a UFO as I first assumed.

I started with Epaulet as that was closest and followed the easiest and most direct route to the summit. The terrain was relatively gentle even though there wasn't a trail, and I summited in less than 30 minutes. There were some fun views at the top, as the early light made shadows across the surrounding mountains.

19006_01
Bierstadt (left), Sawtooth (middle), Evans (right). Abyss Lake dead center in the shadows.
19006_02
South Park covered in clouds, Helm's Lake shining in the shadows (far right).
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Another look at Helm's Lake, Bierstadt appearing far right, summit just out of the picture.
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A look at the remaining route. Epaulie in front and Rosalie not far behind.

It was nearly flat from Epaulet to Epaulie, and the traverse took less than 30 minutes even with stopping to take pictures.

19006_05
Smoky mountains in the morning light, on the Epaulet/Epaulie saddle.

I didn't stay long on the summit of Epaulie. I was still too close to Epaulet to have different views, and I hadn't been hiking long enough to need a break. I left almost as soon as I'd arrived and started towards Rosalie. I started down the back side of Epaulie and was greeted with a steep, rocky face that I truly believed I may not be able to get down. It looked SO STEEP from where I was! I was hiking alone with my dog who is way too heavy for me to carry, and I don't have experience on anything above a Class 2, or maybe an easy Class 3. I decided to just keep walking and see what happened. I've seen many trip reports for other peaks that talk about how a certain slope or rock face is "easier than it looks" and I was hoping this was the case for this route...

19006_06
Near the summit of Epaulie, looking down to the Rosalie/Epaulie saddle. Rosalie dominating ahead.

It turns out that my eyes were just playing tricks on me because from the bottom, the slope looks like absolutely nothing. Ha ha wilderness! You almost got me!

19006_07
Looking back up at the descent from Epaulie.

The next step was to make it to Rosalie, which was relatively uneventful except somewhere along the way, my lungs decided they no longer knew how to breathe. I have no idea why sometimes I do fine at altitude, and some days I just can NOT catch my breath! I still made it of course, but I felt like I had to stop 100 times on the ascent.

The summit of Rosalie was very broad and the views were absolutely gorgeous. There was a large summit cairn at the high point (not pictured).

19006_08
South Park just above some nearby mountains.
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Looking back towards Evans, Bierstadt, the Sawtooth, Epaulet, Epaulie.
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Views to the West.
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Catching rays.
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Do you see what I spotted?
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Looking south down the valley. Pikes Peak in the far distance.

I walked around the summit to find a nice place to get out of the wind. It wasn't blowing too hard, but it was COLD. (Winter is coming!) At some point I spotted a herd of mountain goats, luckily before my dog did. I grabbed a tight hold of the leash and tried to find a spot where he wouldn't see them, but what do you know, he spotted them anyways and subsequently had a doggie meltdown when he couldn't chase them. We sat down for a snack behind a large boulder, a safe distance from the goats and out of sight but obviously Otis remembered that they existed and continued his frantic search for them. But moms always know what to do to get their kids to behave, and the snacks got Otis to focus and forget all about his little goat friends.

19006_14
The Guardians of Rosalie (their official title).

I still had to get to work that afternoon, so we only stayed at the summit for 10-15 minutes. The return trip went much quicker as there was slightly less elevation to gain. Also, I cheated (because I'm the worst) and cut around the summit of Epaulie instead of re-summiting. BUT as it turns out, my cheating was rewarded with some amazing rock features, new views, and other fun things. I even followed along the edge of a cliff to practice getting used to exposure. (It was exposed for me, others may not be bothered by this. There's a reason I have to practice...)

19006_15
A dog? A duck? Hanging out in the boulders between Rosalie and Epaulie.
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I didn't realize I'd get to see a lake on the east side of the route!
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Is this real? I thought this route was supposed to be smooth and gradual.

While looking around at all these cool views, I stepped down weird on my ankle and twisted it so hard I thought I might have actually sprained it. I'm used to twisting my ankles but it doesn't normally hurt, so I was pretty worried I'd have a hard time walking out. (Did I mention I saw NO ONE on the entire trip?) After about a minute, the pain was completely gone. (And to answer your question, no I do NOT know what's wrong with me...)

In the flat area near the road, we found a few springs and streams which were easy to step over. But I imagine that earlier in the spring/summer, this area can get pretty marshy. Watch your step! Otis stopped here to get a drink of cold water. (My warm water isn't good enough.)

19006_18
A nice cold drink.

Overall, I really enjoyed this hike. It was pretty easy as far as route finding goes, as well as being short and not too steep. This would be a good hike for beginners practicing route finding on varied Class 2 terrain. (There is NO trail or cairns to mark the route.) You experienced folks will find this one short and sweet, and it could easily be combined with other high peaks in the area.

And to add one last bit, on the drive back down Mount Evans Road, there was a large herd of bighorn blocking traffic to gnaw on this poor person's car. (That one on the left considered fighting me. She definitely would have won.)

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Mountain Mafia (also an official title)

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


 Comments or Questions
sigepnader

Parking
09/04/2018 18:39
Where did you park to start?

Excellent write up!


Chelsea

Parking
09/04/2018 19:14
I parked in a good sized pull off just below the first big switchback up Mt Evans. There's also parking at the switchback. Maybe 4-6 cars at each location.

I can't figure out how to insert a picture into my comment but here are the coordinates of where I parked: 39.579541,-105.631293. Hope that helps!



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