Peak(s):  White Rock Mtn  -  13,540 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2019
Date Climbed:   08/25/2019
Author:  jladderud
 How not to climb White Rock  

Copper Creek TH (2WD)

11.5 miles

4,600'

6.2 hours

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Being the recipient of a work trip to Crested Butte and a recent medical clearance to once again be above 12,000' I had summits on the mind. Given I only had a 2WD low-clearance rental car, one that rose to the forefront was White Rock. There are some great trip reports for this peak on here already. I just wanted to add this brief one as a cautionary note lest my errors be repeated. Namely, THE WEST RIDGE DOESN'T GO (at least not entirely).

The first ~4 miles from the trailhead are very joggable. As advertised, be prepared to get wet at the first crossing of Copper Creek. Also as advertised, getting in and out of the Silver Queen Basin tends to suck--the passage being replete with heinously steep slopes and deadfall. Thinking myself clever, I tried to avoid this suck by following the "nice" contours on my topo map and ascending the West Ridge. However, what looks good on paper turned into a dangerously crumbly series of gendarmes. I found myself at the red arrow in the photo below and had to backtrack down the ridge and then bail south into the basin.

19732_15
If you follow the West Ridge from Copper Creek you end up at the red arrow. Don't do it! The green arrow seems to be the "standard" route.
19732_10
Nice view from the not-nice ridge

Once in the basin I was able to follow the green arrows "safely" to the summit. Though this route still involved a lot of not-so-stable choss. Be careful!

19732_14
"Standard" route to the summit
19732_12
The final summit ridge was a bunch of this
19732_13
Summit views. This is the basin to the north of the Silver Queen Basin.

I'm generally a speedy hiker and, given my poor route finding, it took me 3.5 hours to reach the summit, not enough time to head over to White Benchmark. This would have involved descending back into the basin and ascending an obvious gully to the south of the BM--the ridge connecting White Rock and White BM appears to be 5th class.

19732_06
A view of part of the ridge connecting White Rock (out of frame left) to White BM (right of center)

Once I was back in the Silver Queen Basin I made my way first through gentle talus fields, then annoying deadfall, then dangerously steep deadfall/canyon terrain (needless to say my route-finding was poor). Once I made my way south of the main drainage I found a more-established path. In talking with a local later on it sounds like there is indeed a "trail on the south side of the main drainage. It would behoove one to find in when accessing Silver Queen Basin.

In summary, don't follow my GPX tracks up the West Ridge or gain the West Ridge below 12,600'. Try to enter/exit Silver Queen Basin using a "trail" to the south of the main drainage. Be ready for choss. Wear a helmet!


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




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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