Peak(s):  Potosi Peak  -  13,786 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2019
Modified:  09/10/2019
Date Climbed:   08/30/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   RyGuy
 Hiking a skiers peak   

Potosi Peak

  • mileage: 4.59
  • elevation gain: 3,397'
  • trailhead: Sneffels 4WD 1 (outhouse)
  • partner: Ryan
  • class: 3

When Ryan said that Potosi was a high priority, my first thought was how? I had always planned skiing the north couloir, so we had to look for non skiing TR's. Alex Henes recent one came up, and so we thought we'd follow it. The night before, I mentioned that I had Roach's 13er book in the truck, so we snapped a pic of that route description. No map, so we had to interpret his writing, and it sounded different than Alex's, so we would ground truth them!

There's a trail that starts up directly from the first 4wd trailhead, by the no camping sign on the road. From there it was a mostly steep grassy slope up Coffee Pot. Once up to the higher bench, we knew we had to traverse east/right to the main south ridge on Coffee Pot. We stayed on grass until we had to go talus.

Potosi shadow on Gilpin
Teakettle basin, with another hole on the right

Life standing still, for a moment

Once on the talus mini ridge, we went straight up, dodging any difficulties to the left/west.

Talus ridge up to Coffee Pot
Ryan wants Coffee from the source, too bad it's a class 5, and I forgot my rack and rope

Ryan thinking about launching a Redeemer (ask him what that means)

After some loose and steep talus, we made the ridge and were able to take a short break, before dropping down to the saddle.

Potosi from Coffee Pot slope
Coffee Pot and Teakettle

I wanna ski that, just not right now

We thought dropping down would be easy, but there were some pretty loose sections that captured our attention. Thankfully they were short.

Me coming down one of the steep loose class 2+ section. Photo: Ryan

Ryan approaching the saddle

From the saddle, the trail which goes up the ridge to a bit below the cliff face, became visible. The up to the traverse section went pretty quickly, and soon we were back on the sunny side looking up at the cliffs above.

Can you spot the ranked 13er and the unranked in the photo?

Once on the south ridge, at the SW corner, we could see that the 2 routes would diverge here. Alex traversed below the first set of cliffs on high angle scree on hardpan above the lower cliffs. No bueno!!! Neither of us liked this option. It looked painful, so we decided to follow the Roach route. Surprise surprise, there was lots of human signs of travel and frequent cairns. Roach for the win!

Ryan contemplating the options. Right or left. (Hint: go left)

We traversed a short bit to the left under the cliffs, before we found the cairned weakness to gain the next level of cliff traverse.

Ryan scrambling up the first cliff level

From there, we traversed to the SE under the cliffs on loose talus, following the numerous cairns, until we came to a snowy gully.

Ryan approaching the south cliffs

Ryan wants to camp here ?!?

Approaching the gully we take to the SW. Note the cairn on the big rock on right
Looking up to the left on some rough gullies that will take us to the main sandy gully.

We hit the snow and figured one of these gullies to the left had to go, so we went up the left of the snow, and saw at least one route that went well.

Ryan choosing a decent gully. You can note the big boulder he's on in the previous photo

Once above that short gully, we traverse further east into the sandy gully.

Ryan pointing the way up the next gully to the east

When we got into the sandy gully, I needed a quick restroom break, and so Ryan went up a bit to scout the route.

View up sandy gully to summit area, can you spot Ryan?
There he is!

I went up the sandy gully to the next turn to the left up a class 3 chute. Ryan went up the left one, and me the right. His and Hers! On the descent, we both went down the northern/right one.

Ryan standing above his chute

Me ascending the northern chute. Photo: Ryan

Above the chutes, the route goes up the loose down sloping benches that were a lot more fun to go up, than down. The summit cliffs were breached on the right.

Ryan heading up the fun benches above the chutes
Ryan at the notch in the summit cliffs

Above that, the summit is quite sandy and flat.

Summit flowers

summit pano 1

Summit pano 2

Even though the weather was forecasted to be storm free, we decided to not linger too long on the summit. So snapped a few photos, and headed back down.

YBB peaks

Mt Emma in the sun - Note the snow patches on the slope - critical for a future day

The descent went much faster, since we no longer had to route find so carefully.

Dropping off the summit cliffs, with sandy gully below
Me coming down the benches

View above the main turn to go back west above the snowy gully
Me approaching the lower cliffs, back on the south west corner of the mountain. Photo: Ryan
Ryan dropping the lower cliffs

We had noted a trail directly from the cliff weakness, to the traverse trail below. It was loose, but cut off a short distance.

Me back on the traverse trail. Photo: Ryan

We got back to the saddle quickly, hurried on my some falling precipitation. Hmmm what happened to 0%? From the saddle, we spotted the best loose talus gully to go down, which has signs of use.

Dropping off the saddle
Loose gullies between the Hoodoos

Once down the steep loose gully, we traversed to the SE to the large grassy slope that can be seen from below.

Starting the traverse to the grassy slope to the left
Looking up the loose gully to the saddle area

From the big grassy slope, we had to find the rock fin to get into the proper gully to drop to the road below. I had spotted it the day before from the trailhead, so I knew it was left/east of the main drainage to the right.

Ryan standing above the rock fin
Looking down the steep class 2+ gully, to the right of the rock fin

Looking back at Potosi from the rock fin

Dropping the first section off the grass was really steep and loose, but then below, there were some good sections of scree skiing. Ryan even let loose a significant rock avalanche that I got a video of.

Me making my way carefully down the upper tricky gully. Photo: Ryan
Lower scree skiing

After exiting the fin zone, we should have stayed gully left, as lower down, we had to cross a fairly high angle rock slab with scree on it. Think Hourglass with marbles. Ryan no likey!

After that, it was a mini bushwhack through the trees to get to the road. Sneffels hikers were amazed to see Ryan emerge from that unusual spot. They shook their heads and ran away when Ryan said we came down the slope above.

Yeah, we came down that.

Once back at the road, my feet wanted out of my boots ASAP. All that loose scree take a toll on the footsies!

Zoom of the upper ridge area on Coffee Pot
Zoom of the fin at the grass - scree transition, from the trailhead area. Descent to the left of the fin.

Now to wait for Tony and day 3! Gilpin Peak

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
09/06/2019 12:35
this TR title apply to every peak you hike?

Nice Potosi Fin-ish
09/06/2019 19:49
Did you guys get a GPS track? It's not clear to me where that fin was relative to our path down from the saddle.

09/08/2019 17:33
Rob - #skiALLthepeaks, though some look trickier than others

Hoot - I did put up a google map with my GPS track above. Did you click on the display the map at the base of the TR? We went way descenders left of the route up, which you traversed right, to get to.

Left or Right
09/09/2019 18:47
Okay, I see it. (I don't think I used to have to click to see the topo.) We were headed back to the parking area/privy so we were motivated to descend to the right. Somehow Ben and Ryan made it work. The left descent might be safer if you just want to get to the road.

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