Log In 
Peak(s):  Cirque Mountain  -  13,692 feet
Date Posted:  09/05/2019
Modified:  09/09/2019
Date Climbed:   08/29/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   RyGuy
 Afternoon Delight   

Cirque Mountain

  • mileage: 4
  • elevation gain: 2,476'
  • trailhead: Sneffels 4WD 1 (outhouse)
  • partner: Ryan
  • class: 2+

After last years San Juan 13er/4x4 blitz with Ryan and Tony, we had to come up with a plan for this year! Tony would be delayed by 2 days because of a trip to Iceland, but then the 3 musketeers would be reunited! This year Ryan wanted to go after bicentennials. As my lowest % centennial grouping, that would work for me as well, though I had always planned the Yankee Boy Basin peaks as skis. Guess I'll be repeating these peaks in the future!

After working a half day on Wednesday, I was on my way. Well, almost. I did get an email from my boss with 10 minutes left, asking me to swap offices with 2 other people involved before the end of the holiday weekend. Thankfully when I told him I was on vacation for the next week, he deflected the other managers, who's failure to plan was not our emergency. Beyond that, I had a pleasant drive up into YBB for sunset, before getting to my campsite. Ryan was delayed at work, and would arrive very late that night. At least he knew where I was after getting my SPOT location.

Potosi sunset truck reflection

I woke up the next morning at 5am, and it was too dark to look out my window to see if Ryan was awake yet, so I hit snooze. 9 minutes later, it was lighter, and I could tell that he wasn't parked in front of me. Hmmm.... A few more snoozes later, I got up. Thought maybe he had parked a bit farther away, and when I would go out to use the restroom, I'd see his Jeep. Nope. Maybe it got too late, and he parked and camped lower down. So at 6am, our agreed departure time, I went to the trailhead and waited. Nothing, still. So I started to photograph the sunrise.

T 5 sunrise
T 5 sunrise and flowers

Gilpin sunrise
Trees flashing in the sunrise

At 7 am, I knew something was wrong. Ryan wouldn't be this late without a good reason. All the bad things started running through my head: Was there a traffic jam, was he in a car accident, did he fall asleep at the wheel...?????? Only thing I could do was drive down to Camp Bird and get into cell reception and see if I had messages. Soon as I got service, there was a message. Massive traffic accident east of Gunnison shut down highway 50 and he didn't get around it till early am. So I decided to give him a call, which woke him up! He was out by Blue Mesa, and would be a while. So he gave me his InReach tracker, so I could watch his approach. Not quite as exiting as a 14er record run or Nolans or the like, but it was sure faster! From drive faster, to OMG he's in Ouray, to YAY he's on the YBB road!!!!!! A different kind of excitement, watching a partner arrive via InReach!

There he is - hurry up - Oooo turning south - Go faster - Ouray YAY! - OMG heading my way, finally!

Ryan still in his work clothes

While I could have gone and hiked something solo, that's not the point of this trip! I figured we might have a chance to squeeze in a later summit with the stable weather. So after all the delays, we got a start on the trail, after talking with Hoot, in the afternoon. Yup AFTER noon. Quite thankful for the short routes in this basin!

We started up the road, and then soon began angling up the grassy slopes. We were eager elevation beavers, and gained a bit too much too fast, and ended up doing a lot more high angled traversing than needed on the way up. On the return, we dropped lower to a better route.

Grassy slope up to Kismet - Cirque saddle
Looking back on Potosi

The remainder of the trek to the saddle was on talus and scree, but at least there was a bit of a trail in most places to follow.

Glamor shot Ryan
Route from saddle up Cirque's false summit


We went all the way up to the false summit, since we missed the bypass trail. No big deal on such a low elevation day! On the return, we took the bypass. At least the views were good from the ridge bump.

Cirque from bump
Cirque - Teakettle - Potosi

Teakettle zoom
Potosi Zoom

Ryan on the first "rough" section
Ryan crossing over to Cirque

The first ridge cliff was loose but easy.

Approaching the first cliff feature
Ryan zipping up the first section

Above the first cliff section, was short talus before the summit cliff section.

Summit cliffs

Ryan going up to the summit

Me approaching the summit - Photo: Ryan

After a little 2+ (though likely a way to go 2), we were on the summit at 3pm! The clouds, which had filled the sky a bit, were now dispersing, just as I thought they would. Noon summit rule doesn't always win. Hurray for decades of weather watching experience!

Summit pano

Teakettle & Potosi
T 5

Mt Emma


After a nice summit stay, we headed down, so we could get some eats in Ouray.

Me dropping off the summit. Photo: Ryan
Ryan's happy to squeeze in an afternoon summit!
Me on top of the lower cliffy section, Photo: Ryan

We had a more pleasant descent taking the lower route, and we even got to walk on snow, my favorite!

Emersion in the flowers
Snow walking

Lower basin, still snow!

Potosi sunset
Potosi sunset with the noble steeds

On to Day 2..... Potosi Peak

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

Comments or Questions
So many ...
9/6/2019 8:18am
Beautiful photos! Looks like you two made the most of the situation (personally, I think it's neat to do some afternoon climbs every once in awhile). I enjoyed that "potato chip" rock on Cirque. Thanks for posting. Happy trails!

9/6/2019 9:16am
Fantastic images and well documented. Great work as usual.

9/6/2019 12:01pm
great report! and nice work!

What they said...
9/6/2019 12:05pm
Your reports and pics are always top notch, Otina!

9/6/2019 2:29pm

Thanks All!
9/8/2019 5:28pm
Presto - Nice to see a post from you again! It's rare to hike in the afternoon, except on these short routes, or when things go wrong. Though I have spotted a couple others that have potential!

BostonBD - Thanks, YBB is tough to take a bad photo.

Dillon - Gotta do the puns when possible, no?

Jay521 - I wouldn't know how to do a bad TR, I think.

MtnHub - Not great terrain for your ankle, but you could hike in the basins. or live vicariously.

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: 14ers.com supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.