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Peak(s):  Gilpin Peak  -  13,699 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2019
Modified:  09/09/2019
Date Climbed:   08/31/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   RyGuy, Tony1
 Scree and wildflowers to the max   

Gilpin Peak

  • mileage: 3.24
  • elevation gain: 1,410'
  • trailhead: Sneffels 4WD upper TH
  • 3 musketeers: Ryan (Aramis), Tony (Porthos) and me (Athos)
  • class: 2

Ryan and I hoped that Tony would be still a bit jet lagged from Iceland to not run up the mountain, so we decided on a short peak & route to be sure. Plus a nice short day for us on day 3. The first achievement was reached on driving to the upper trailhead. I had tried driving up for Jeff's finisher in 2012, but didn't make it too far because of loose gravel on the road. Today I was determined to make it. It did take a spot from Ryan for both of us to make it over one rough section. Yay, now I don't have to drive up here ever again!

Taco + Gilpin

We put up our marmot guards, and started up the Sneffels trail. Furthermore had mentioned that maybe it would have been easier to go up the Blue Lakes trail to the saddle and then run the ridge, instead of the scree slope closer to Gilpin. So we decided to mix the two, by going up the switchbacks, till a supposed decent ascending traverse to the ridge appeared. It started off well, but then got nasty. Real nasty.

Starting up the trail, with our ascending traverse in the reddish middle - don't do that, or you'll curse me

Gilpin cliff shadows
Gilpin and our ascending traverse through the red scree

This scree sucks

Our stay on the ridge was short lived. There was a rough section that Ryan got to the top of, but then reversed. We could have gone over it, I think.

First rough section on ridge. Photo: Ryan

Beyond that, we stayed on the ridge till the last bit before where Furthermore went up. Ryan balked at the start, so I decided to scramble up and see. I got to the top and said nope. Drop. Drop it like it's hot. So Ryan, pounded down that gully like it was his business! He says he doesn't want his heel pain, but acts differently.

Ridge running
Dallas and friends
Ridge running 2

The next difficulty
View down the difficulty. Nope

Even the next ridge bump doesn't go, time to drop
Ryan loves pounding loose scree gullies. Tony and I took the solid side
Gully vs solid. Photo: Ryan

After dropping off the ridge, we got over to the flowery grass, where we should have aimed in the first place. So there ya go. The ridge doesn't quite go. Save yourself the trouble and just traverse there!

Better ascent underneath the ridge difficulties

Even then, the stay on the ridge was short lived, since we knew the next ridge gendarme would not be climbed. There also was a bit of a climbers trail that aims at the center of the gully. We went all the way into the gully, since we couldn't see the better ascent route, that we found on the way down.

Dropping off the ridge, again. Traverse to the gully
Looking back down the ridge
Zoom of the other side of the ridge difficulties we had to drop off of

If only there was MORE SNOW! (and we had snow gear on us)

Once we go into the center of the gully, we split up and divided the slope for safety. Tony ran up and found the trail under the cliffs gendarmes above, so I got up there ASAP. Then travel became easy, if a bit loose on occasion.

Looking up from the trail. Can you spot Ryan in the rubble still?
Nice view west from a hole in the gendarmes

Looking down on Ryan in the ridge opening
View from the top of the loose couloir.

Once on top of that loose gully, that would make a much better snow climb/ski etc, we were quite happy. But what can ya do, it's a bicentennial and Ryan wanted it.

Emma from the top of the couloir
Easy stroll to the summit

Summit from the summit ridge, with the big snow couloir

After seeing the main snow couloir off the summit, which I know cornices like mad, I think I'll ski the other one we came up!

Summit pano NE

Summit pano SW

After such a short ascent, we took some time enjoying the summit.

Sneffels where calls of ROCK, were frequent
Cirque to Potosi, I see my truck!


3 Musketeers are back again!

Eventually we had to leave the summit, so down we went, the way we came, plus some improvements.

Dropping of the summit

We went down the gully to the left/west side, where the trail is. We got to where we got up to it, and kept going. It was only a bit further left on the ridge, before we dropped back down to the traverse trail. It was much better than the ascent, though still horribly loose.

Dropping further down the ridge

We got back to the saddle area above the grassy slope and took a little break. Gorgeous!

Pano from ridge south

Pano north from ridge. Ryan doing his pointing thing, as usual.

Dropping down the flowery grassy slope got a bit silly. But hey, wildflowers in Fall!

Tony in the flowers
Tony found Ryan's body

Ryan died and went to flower heaven
Tony getting into the flower action

Below the flowers, we got to do some boot skiing for fun. Then we decided to traverse on the grass over to the trail from the lake.

Drop from the saddle & snow patch
Traversing to the trail

At the trailhead is a truly special map. I guess it's been a long time since my GIS class in college, but can you spot what's wrong with it?

Trailhead map be crazy

Thankfully we didn't meet too many people rolling down the 4WD road on a holiday weekend, because dang, it could have been bad!

Ryan spotting a rough section
Deer watching from the hill in the distance

After surviving the drive down to our campsite, Tony decided to take the afternoon to run up Cirque, and Ryan went into town for ice. Some couple decided to join our campsite at 5am, waking most of us up (not me). They were still there hanging out, in our campsite on the return. They didn't even introduce themselves or ask permission, so I decided after vehicle shuffling with Ryan to break out my best carpool karaoke game. I don't think I even finished the second song before our unwelcomed guests decided that I was 'ruining their wilderness experience', and left. Pro tip: Don't join someone else's campsite without asking or being minimally social. My singing skills are ON POINT!

After a bit of a campsite sponge bath in PRIVACY, I spotted that Tony had made the summit. So I grabbed my big lens to grab a few shots. Something tells me he didn't expect me to be taking shots....

Tony not wearing clothes...

Sunset behind Gilpin
Sunset grillin' Photo: Ryan

We had a great evening hanging out, as one might imagine with our 3 unique personalities. The laughs were flowing like beer/cider/P noir!

Day 4: Mt Emma, Mendota Peak, T 5

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
That Map
9/6/2019 8:03pm
Yep. I stared at that map for a while before it made some sense.

9/10/2019 4:08pm
Is upside down and backwards... Dyslexics unite!

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