Peak(s):  White Dome  -  13,627 feet
Peak One  -  13,589 feet
Hunchback Mountain  -  13,136 feet
Date Posted:  10/03/2018
Modified:  10/04/2018
Date Climbed:   09/28/2018
Author:  bergsteigen
 Nibbling on the Wemi   

Day 2: Hunchback Mountain, White Dome, Peak One

  • Mileage: 12.66
  • Elevation gain: 5,312'
  • Trailhead: Hunchback Pass
  • Partners: Solo
  • Class: 3 (I did some 4, maybe not required)
  • Terrain: Quartzite slick rock

After Pole Dancing, I crossed the very low Rio Grande River and drove up the very nice 4x4 road to Beartown. I knew there was a mud pit obstacle, and that comes at about mile 3. Taking it the regular route is not advised. Even with my lifted truck, I would have hit bottom. There are 2 option around it to the right on the way in. You may want to carry a shovel and bush clippers. Not like this will get better until a 4x4 group adopts this section and fixes it.

I drove up to about the crossing with Beartown creek. I noted the lack of established campsites and since I wanted to camp for 3 nights, I wanted a good centrally located spot. The one just before the creek met my criteria. Since what I had planned the trail began and ended above and below my campsite for the next 2 days. I set up my solar panels and got ready for the next day.

In my "save the best for last" strategy with the Weminuche 13ers, it was finally time to start to tackle these peaks. While I love topo maps, actually seeing the peaks and ridges are quite critical to my planning. So it was finally time to get here. Procrastinate the Weminuche ends!

Next morning I got up with the intention to make Hunchback Pass for sunrise, and I came really close to my time estimate.

Hiking up the trail before sunrise

Sunrise on Hunchback Mtn with the moon

From the pass, I head up to the ridge to my right and make my way up to the easy Hunchback Mountain summit.

My shadow with the moon on ridge up Hunchback Mtn
Kite Lake
Last bit of ridge to summit

Hunchback summit pano

White Dome with Hunchback Mtn's shadow

3 intimidating Wemi peaks

Looking south
Peak One
View back to Kite Lake

I didn't take too long on the summit, since I was planning a long day. So from one of the lowest 13ers, onto a bicentennial. The first part of the ridge looked rough, but went easily enough. After that it was almost class 1.

Looking down ridge
Ridge roughness easily dodged

As I got to the saddle, I wasn't enthused about going up the ridge on White Dome. Based on the 1 TR I had time to read beforehand, Furthermore attacked the cliff directly and with "careful route finding" kept it class 3. I wasn't quite convinced. I had some thoughts to traverse to the Peak One saddle first. At the saddle, I found a trail in the talus, so I decided to take it, and see what I could find out about this peak.

White Dome looking intimidating
Moonset and ridge zoom

The rubble gully through the cliff section looks like the route. But that's not "tackling the cliff directly" from Furthermore's TR. So it had me debating. I figured I could try traversing first.

Zoom of scramble section

The trail I was on eventually dropped down in the the valley above the lake, so I began to traverse across on nice quartzite slick rock.

Above the lake
Looking back on Hunchback with trail cutting across talus

As I made my way uphill and across on the fun slick rock, I came across the next cliff section on White Dome, and saw the big talus slope. That looked horrific. So I looked directly up at White Dome's summit. That would go. I look on my GPS, the face looks like it would go. So up between the cliff sections on grassy slick rock with some minor scrambling. Guess this is the route that makes the peak class 2+, since all the scrambling is avoided this way.

Traversing to the talus
Slick rock terrain with summit above
Uphill on White Dome, looking back on Hunchback

Above the slick rock section, it was just talus all the way to the summit ridge. Nothing exciting. Maybe I'll have to come back another time and try the ridge route. But it's good to know that my route finding skills are still operating, and can find the "easiest way", even if it involves less scrambling fun.

White Dome summit pano

Some scary pointy peaks
So many Wemi peaks...

View to Peak One

I didn't remember Furthermore mention much about this ridge, so it was almost surprising how much scrambling I got ridge proper. I even pulled class 4 moves on occasion. Necessary? Maybe not, but I would say minimum class 3 to keep it ridge proper. I had a lot of fun with this ridge. Even a surprise knife edge section I've never heard mentioned before. Fun fun!

Starting down White Dome, not realizing how fun it would be

Where the ridge got fun
Knife edge

Knife edge exposure

Looking up the knife edge

Narrow ridge
Moar ridge
Ridge drop!
Looking back at ridge in one spot I diverted from it

Once down to the saddle, the trek over to Peak One was pretty easy. Just a couple bumps along the way. The first one had some minor scrambling on loose rock. Then easy to summit.

At saddle to Peak One
Looking back at super fun ridge to White Dome
Approaching ridge bump to Peak One

I went up slightly to the left of ridge center of the above photo. Loose, but better than other side I felt.

scramble bits

White Dome from ridge bump
Peak One from ridge bump

After the ridge bump, it was easy class 2 talus to the summit.

Peak One pano south
Peak One pano north

It was great to be on summit #3, but I didn't spend much time, since I wanted to get closer to the pointy peaks ASAP. So after a bunch of photos, I started directly down the south ridge as the TR said. Soon I got a creepy feeling that the ridge would cliff out. Closer I got to the saddle with the false summit of Peak One, the stronger the cliff out feeling got. Well, it's true, it cliffs out. You need to dodge left or SE for a short bit. No big deal, but "cliffed out" is an anxiety inducing feeling for sure!

Heading down Peak One ridge south, getting that cliff out feeling
Looking back on Peak One. Cliff at blue gray rock, exit above it to the right.

From there it was a short and steep ascent up the false summit.

From Furthermore's TR, he followed the ridge for a bit and then dropped down the south side and contoured. I usually like to take things ridge proper, so it wasn't comforting to hear he didn't want to take the time to route find it. Did it go?

Start of ridge, Peak Two behind

As the ridge started to slowly drop, it was fun scrambling around boulder, nothing hard at first, but would get progressively more difficult. I got it to at least class 3 before I turned.

Scramble bits
This ridge is really dropping E fast...

Right about where I noted Furthermore's map dropped, the ridge just plummeted down quickly. It was fairly intimidating not knowing if it went. It was almost 2pm. If I could get off this ridge quickly, I could finish the long loop with a late return, but not if it took much longer.

So I went to the gully that was close on the map. I started down it. I was doing class 4 moves. The gully had many stair steps. I knew it cliffed out at the bottom. Based on the geology/geomorph of the region, I could tell by looking along the ridge. The cliffs were easier further east, but got worse west, where I was. So going all the way to the bottom was not an option. I would have to return to the ridge again. The terrain looked horrific. I don't think I made it 10' down before I said NOPE. I decided to bail and go back up the ridge and get back to the saddle with the false summit.

Slabby scramble section on the return

I got back to the saddle. I looked down the gully to Peak 2 and Peak 3, and even that looked like it might cliff out. So I figured it was better to go down the drainage and meet up with the trail up to Hunchback Pass.

The first section east was steep nasty talus, but once back on the slick rock section it got easier. After the morning on the slick rock, I didn't think I could tire of this fun rock. But I did. It was a bit of a maze to not 4' cliff out! Fun, but tiring. At least once I had to slide down a mini cliff.

Looking down drainage. Mmmmm slick rock
Looking up drainage from a rare tundra section

After what felt like a long bushwhack descent, I finally met up with the trail.

Heading up to Hunchback Pass

Oh Deer!

I met some deer on my way up to Hunchback Pass. I really hoped I would make it up there before sunset at least, and I made it with time to spare. I even almost made it back to the trailhead for actual sunset.

Looking down the trail up Hunchback Pass
Sunset on the Poles, heading down Hunchback Pass

Right as I hit the trailhead, a couple pulled into it. Oh yeah, it's Friday. After yesterday's lonely drive in, knowing no one was up there, at all - it was comforting knowing there were a few others all the way up here at Beartown!

I got back to my camp just as it got to full dark. Made firing up my grill a little interesting in the full dark. Close to camp I started a couple deer in the almost dark. At least I got home in time to recover for tomorrow. Oh the plans I had for the next day... big.

Post script: The SW ridge off Peak One goes, but Kevin says you want to keep it ridge proper. So there's some solid beta for the next group(s).

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
10/04/2018 11:14
I haven't been into this area since the mid 80s. Your report brought back great memories.

10/04/2018 17:29
Kansan - Glad I could stir the good memories! I know Iâll be back!

10/09/2018 15:07
Yeah, we were the couple that you saw at the trailhead. We only saw one other person besides you!

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