Peak(s):  Baldy Cinco  -  13,383 feet
"Baldy no es Cinco"  -  13,313 feet
PT 13,162 A  -  13,162 feet
PT 13,510 A  -  13,510 feet
PT 13,490  -  13,490 feet
Date Posted:  08/03/2019
Modified:  08/05/2019
Date Climbed:   08/01/2019
Author:  Mtnman200
 Open Season   

My most recent thirteener was Twin Peaks (13,580') in October 2018, and I was anxious to get back out in the mountains again. When I finally had an opportunity for a short (two-day) trip, I was fired up. Open season!

At the same time, I wasn't in peak condition and expected to struggle a bit. Inspired by Dillon Sarnelli's recent report on the Baldy Cinco group, I decided to start my climbing season with those four peaks northwest of Creede.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019. I left home in the afternoon and, after getting stuck in I-25 construction traffic just north of Colorado City, finally made it to Spring Creek Pass. Several campgrounds are available along the way, but being the low budget type, I slept in the back of my car at the trailhead.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019. I crossed Highway 149 and followed the Colorado Trail toward Snow Mesa before leaving the trail and heading WNW toward the day's first objective, "Baldy no es Cinco." Snow Mesa appears quite expansive on the map and looks even larger in person. On the plus side, I didn't feel as out-of-shape as expected. (That comes later.)

“Baldy no es Cinco” (left) and Baldy Cinco in the early morning light

Baldy Cinco looks like a nice easy stroll on the tundra

So does “Baldy no es Cinco”...

Whichever route you choose is easy, and soon I was on the summit of “Baldy no es Cinco” (13,313').

Looking east toward Baldy Cinco from the summit of “Baldy no es Cinco”

The summit cairn on “Baldy no es Cinco” was the most impressive of the day. None of today's peaks had a summit register

I had just begun heading toward Baldy Cinco when Natalie ("SnowAlien") and Jason reached the summit. Given my lack of conditioning, I figured it wouldn't be long before they passed me. After a half hour of pleasant ridgewalking, I reached the summit of Baldy Cinco (13,383').

The summit of Baldy Cinco. Two down, two to go...

The USGS benchmark only says "Cinco;" no "Baldy"...

Looking back at “Baldy no es Cinco” from Baldy Cinco's summit

Looking east toward Unnamed (UN) 13510A (left) and UN 13162A from Baldy Cinco's summit

The route from Baldy Cinco to UN 13162A was another hour of easy tundra walking.

Looking east toward UN 13162A from near the Baldy Cinco - UN 13162A saddle, with UN 13510A just barely visible at the far left

The gentle summit of UN 13162A

Looking west toward Baldy Cinco from the summit of UN 13162A. This is the greatest distance between adjacent summits of the Baldy Cinco group

Looking NE toward UN 13510A from UN 13162A's summit

I probably could have continued along the ridge toward UN 13510A but instead went a bit south of the ridge until I could head NNE and intersect the Colorado Trail. I followed the Colorado Trail until I was about 1/3 mile east of the UN 13162A - UN 13510A saddle and then headed directly north until I was back on UN 13510A's south ridge. Jason and Natalie took a more direct route by staying on the ridge and passed me here.

UN 13510A's south ridge

I reached the summit of UN 13510A about 5 - 10 minutes after Jason (left) and Natalie

After a quick lunch on UN 13510A's lunch, the three of us headed down toward the Colorado Trail, which we followed back to Spring Creek Pass.

Descending UN 13510A's south ridge

I returned the way I had ascended from the Colorado Trail, which turned out to be a faster descent route because I reached the Colorado Trail ahead of Natalie and Jason.

The Colorado Trail crosses a few very short sections of snow. Give it a week and the snow will be gone
Route from Spring Creek Pass to UN 13510A. The return was via the Colorado Trail across Snow Mesa

The long trudge on the Colorado Trail across Snow Mesa was followed by a descent into the trees and back to Spring Creek Pass. Now on to the next peak: UN 13490 in the Sangre de Cristos near Villa Grove. I had planned to climb UN 13490 in October 2018, but the weather was uncooperative and the climb got postponed.

From the west, there are two obvious approaches to UN 13490: Cotton Creek and Wild Cherry Creek. I decided to take Wild Cherry Creek because I'd hiked the Cotton Creek Trail in 2016. I set up camp at the Wild Cherry Creek trailhead and cooked dinner. The trailhead is at only 8500', so the heat was oppressive until well after dark. The mosquitoes were quite a nuisance, too. Summits in the Sangre de Cristos with a western approach would be good ones to save for September and October.

Thursday, August 1, 2019. I got up early and began hiking up the trail in the dark. The trail climbed at a very steady grade, which made it easy to get into an efficient breathing pattern and it was over an hour before I stopped for a short break.

The Wild Cherry Creek Trail mostly ascends through a forest of aspens. The trail had been recently cleared of downed trees, for which I was grateful.

Near timberline, Mt. Owen (13,340') comes into view

The Wild Cherry Creek Trail ends at Cherry Lake (center)

A closer look at Cherry Lake

From the trail's end at Cherry Lake, I aimed toward the Mt. Owen - UN 13490 saddle. Plenty of willows conspired to impede my progress, and at times it was challenging to find the path of least resistance.

The Mt. Owen - UN 13490 saddle, with part of UN 13490 visible above it. UN 13490's true summit is out-of-sight to the left

A look back at Cherry Lake with the San Luis Valley in the distance as seen from a few hundred feet below the Mt. Owen - UN 13490 saddle

From the Mt. Owen - UN 13490 saddle, there are several false summits before reaching UN 13490's true summit (left)

Looking west toward UN 13490 from approximately halfway between UN 13122 and UN 13490. The true summit of UN 13490 is hidden

One of the false summits on UN 13490

Nope, still not there yet

Almost there

Finally, the true summit of UN 13490. "Silver Peak" (13,513') makes an appearance in the background and is best approached from the Cotton Creek Trail.

I was surprised to find a CMC summit register from 2013. I was not surprised to see a few familiar names

Only 30 signatures in just under six years makes UN 13490 a rarely visited summit

I'd initially planned to add UN 13122 and Mt. Owen, but the ridge to Mt. Owen looked especially long and the clouds were a bit threatening even though it was only 10:20 AM, so I returned the way I'd come. Once back on the Wild Cherry Creek Trail, I took some time to enjoy the flowers.

The columbines look a lot better in person

So do these flowers...

I set the cruise control until I reached the trailhead, pleased with getting five summits in two days. I didn't see a single person all day, and that isolation is one of the things I really enjoy about the lesser-known trails in the Sangre de Cristos.

Route from Cherry Lake to UN 13490

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Dillon is the man
08/04/2019 12:35
Quite a few of us got inspired by Dillon's report. No snow, no mosquitoes, San Juans views, wildflowers, what's not to like?


Glad you got out
08/09/2019 16:32
Eddie, glad you found a chance to get out for a few peaks. Hoping you get a lot more before the summer ends. I have been eyeing a few of those Baldy Cinco area peaks. The first 3 look nice and avy safe, thinking a winter trip if the weather looks friendly.

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