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Peak(s):  Ute Ridge  -  13,466 feet
Unnamed 13351  -  13,351 feet
Unnamed 13318  -  13,318 feet
Date Posted:  10/04/2018
Date Climbed:   09/29/2018
Author:  bergsteigen
 Ute gotta be kitten me with all this kitty litter!   

Day 3: Ute Ridge, Pt 13,342, Pt 13,308

  • Mileage: 10.78
  • Elevation gain: 4,181'
  • Trailhead: Beartown trail off road east of Hunchback Pass trail
  • Partners: Solo
  • Class: 2+
  • Terrain: Kitty Litter to the max - ALL the Cats come to these peaks!

When I woke up this morning, I knew it was either going to be a huge day, or just a normal sized one. It all depended on the terrain/ridges and how my body felt. Didn't realize weather would play a huge role as well.

I had gotten up a bit earlier in hopes of completing my larger days plans, so I hiked up the trail in the dark, and made it up to the breezy upper plains for sunrise. Quite spectacular sunrise at that!

Ute Ridge sunrise
Pole Mountain sunrise
Bright clouds over Sheep and Greenhalgh

The closer I got to the saddle between the 2 unnamed peaks, the more the terrain turned to kitty litter scree.


I got to the saddle and decided to go up 13,342 first. 13,308 would be last of this group (I have a plan, really). So I started up the scree slope and started contouring under the rocky cliffs to the south face. Found lots of human and game trails on the way up. I didn't wait till I was onto the fully south facing line up to the summit, and therefore had some optional easy scrambling. You can avoid this by fully contouring around the peak. But why be meh?

Shadow dancing on the grassy scree slope
Terrain if you gain the ridge
Scramble action

After the short scramble through the Grus and granite summit blocks, I found myself on the summit. A very breezy and smokey summit. Nasty! So that's why the sunrise was so pretty. My lungs hate smoke. The views sucked and my lungs were sucking wind. My big day percentage was dropping.

13342 pano west
13342 pano east

Wemi views
Ute Ridge haze
Hazy RGP window

Once the breeze got me freezing again, I took off directly towards the saddle with the ridge bump. Furthermore's TR showed him dropping before the ridge bump into the drainage directly. As I approached, that looks nasty and cliffy. Nope, I'd rather gain a bit more elevation and go over the ridge bump and drop the steep scree grass. Didn't add much.

Dropping to the first saddle off 13,342
View to Ute from mini saddle

Once down to the big main saddle, it was just a long simple side hill contour up the kitty litter to the ridge. A pretty geologically cool ridge!

Sailing the seas of scree
Moon shot with 13,342

Granite nubbins on the ridge
Ute and the cute kitties
Looking back on 13342

Once above the kitty litter slope, the remainder of the ridge to Ute was more talus and blocky. I figured it would be pretty straight forward. Didn't really read a TR, just looked at a map, once. So as I got closer to the 2 cliff bands, I veered left/west for the first one on loose talus, and then went straight for the ridge line center for the next. I saw some fallen blocks, that I thought would be a good scramble up, but as I got there, that didn't work. But, I saw a bunch of dirt abused by many foot steps going up a tight slot. Viola! There we go.

Last ridge up to Ute
Some mafic boulders under the first cliffs
Approaching the summit cliffs
Narrow slot on left is the way

Up the slot

Handy cairn above the slot enroute to the summit
Looking down the ridge above the slot

Looking down the slot from above

After the slot magic, it was a short hike to the summit boulders.

Ute summit pano

Making the Wemi colors pop
RGP still hazy
13,308 with the pointy Wemi's
Hazy view east, can barely see San Luis

I stayed up top for awhile. I had cell service and I felt a bit lonely. It was still quite breezy and I was still wearing all my summer layers of puffy and wind/rain shell. I would leave the puffy on till I went back up the steep slope to 13,342. Though I did want to put it back on during a particularly powerful wind gust.

At this point my chances for my bigger day were almost nill. I had planned years ago (before seeing the ridges, or knowing the kitty litter would slow my roll) to add on the Nebo group of 3 peaks to this ridge run. All day yesterday I had been eying the route, and figured it would go, IF the ridge off 13,308 went. At this point with being frozen all morning and early afternoon in the stiff wind, and adding in the smoke polluting my lungs, I didn't have the hours or desire to go for the extra 3 peaks. All this haze and the angle of the sun made those peaks less appealing too. I'd rather hit them in the morning for the sun angle for the better photos.

Looking down the ridge below the cliffs
On the false on the ridge, looking at 13,308 and 13,342

Once back below 13,342, I thought I saw a game trail a bit higher on the slope, but when it didn't materialize, I beelined back to where there was a nice trail below the granite cliffs

Pick your path, 13,308 in front

Almost back to the saddle with 13,308
The bulbous granite cliffs on 13,342 that block easy access to the ridge

The route up to 13,308 was slightly demoralizing at the end of the day. The slope below 13,342 was deep, plunge stepable kitty litter. Here it was thinner and on top of bedrock. So ball bearing kitty litter. Then the final pitch up to the summit ridge gets stupid steep. So crawling uphill kitty litter. Bleh. At least the summit boulders are fun to play around! The summit are the blocks on the left/south, not to the north. But it's easier to go up to the north and then scramble around to the south. Quite the exposure to the west.

Ute and 13,342 on the kitty litter slope, before the steep
Looking south to the true summit

13,308 pano south Here
13,308 pano east

My peaks today, with RGP on right
Route to Nebo group. I'll save you for morning and better weather!
Hunchback Pass area and peaks from yesterday

I sat on the summit for a bit thinking I didn't do too badly for my first trip to this part of the Wemi. Always good to get eyes on peaks and routes before doing the tough planning. Guess I'll have to "plan" a bit more on a few of these peaks. Though I'll have to wait till next year to nibble some more on the Wemi.

Once back down on non stupid steep scree, it was a quick and breezy hike back down to the road and my camp. Since it was late enough in the day, I had already planned to stay Saturday night and roll out of here on Sunday morning.

Long shadows as I drop below the 13,308 13,342 saddle
13,308 from the trail

At the truck, I had a full hour before sunset to cook my meal and relax. The next morning after 10 hours of sleep, I felt pretty good physically. Too bad it was way too late to hike the Nebo group. Though I imagine that a few miles into the trek my body would protest!

Some ice in the mud puddle along the road and in the Rio Grand river crossing. I decided to have some fun in the river crossing, because I had time to play! Then I hit up the Dallas Divide on the drive home to wait out leafer traffic, by leaf peeping.

Mud pit and options
Mud pit reflections
I still play in puddles!

Colorful Colorado

Wemi - till next time!

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 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Comments or Questions
Pretty pics and kitty puns
10/5/2018 4:33pm
What more could one want?!!

10/6/2018 9:25pm
I must visit again soon! Thanks for taking the time to add more beta to these peaks.

10/8/2018 11:16am
Rob - Nothing better than kitty puns! The next TR may have some cougar references too!

Tornadoman - Lots of Wemi trips in my future! Hopefully we can plan something, since those peaks should be shared.

10/10/2018 8:53pm
Just got back from a trip out to ME, so I'm busy trying to catch up with things at home and the 14ers.com. Quickly scanned your trio of Wemi's and will have to read them more thoroughly soon. But I always enjoy your summer (or actually, fall) reports!!

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