Peak(s):  Lookout Peak  -  13,661 feet
"South Snowdon"  -  13,046 feet
Date Posted:  09/09/2019
Date Climbed:   09/02/2019
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   Tony1, RyGuy
 Lookout, Snow is on its way   

Lookout Peak

  • mileage: 2.77
  • elevation gain: 1,986'
  • trailhead: Ophir Pass
  • 3 musketeers: Ryan (Aramis), Tony (Porthos) and me (Athos) All for one, one for all!
  • class: 3/4 depending on route choice

We had originally looked at doing both Lookout peaks, but South Lookout at the end of a trip, when we're tired. No go. The guys wanted a short peak, so they could have time to drive home, or do other things. It's also a bicentennial, so Ryan really wanted it. I only know if a peak is over 13K! Haha

With holiday goers swarming the mountains, moving our camp up to the road on Ophir Pass was interesting after a nice dinner in Ouray. Ended up having to pass bag the top. At least the traffic is minimal in the night over this pass! We woke up, and after clearing our heads, decided to start the trek down at the next lower switchback. But there was a car parked that prevented our 3 vehicles from comfortably parking there. So we went back to the pass and hiked down the short distance to the switchback.

Right from the turn, there is a trail that goes through the willows. A few feet up, the trail goes to the right, and since I'm short, I saw it and took it. The guys continued bushwhacking in the center of the drainage, while I was on a trail contouring up on the right/east side. The guys joined me, and there seemed to be a decent trail all the way to the summit. Oh the loss of adventure! Guess the bicentennials are hot peaks now a days!

The only decision points on "trail" was when to leave the one main trail going to the lake to go up the peak, but we soon found a climbers trail with a plethora of cairns.

Lookout from a trail to the lake
South Lookout, for another trip

We followed the grassy slope up to the upper ridge, where we were presented with a nice view of Ophir below. You can still see the scars from the avalanches this past winter!

Town of Ophir
Tony and I admiring the view - Photo: Ryan

Ice Lakes peaks to south

Soon after gaining the ridge, we came upon a short scramble section, so we put away our poles and put on our helmets.

Tony in the first scramble section

The scrambling was short lived, and we went back to talus hopping till further up the ridge, to where the steepness increased.

Back to talus ridge
Ryan on the ridge

Tony on some slabs
Another talus bump before the steep begins

After the ridge approach, we were presented with the final climb to the summit. The obvious route was to the right of the ridge, up a loose talus scree gully, which sucks. Or go to the left. We all went up the loose gully on the right, but Tony was smart and came down on the left. So I can't speak to it's level of loose/difficulty, but it goes.

Steep hardpan, followed by steep talus, and then steep ledges

We went one at a time up the steep loose talus to a nice safe point on the ridge, where it was apparent that we had to cross the top of the gully to get out onto the face.

Steep loose gully
Me crossing the top of the loose gully - Photo: Ryan

Ryan starting the cross over

After the cross over we were presented with a few options. A slick and highly exposed class 3 series of moves, or a stiffer class 4 route. I chose to pull some class 5ish moves on a class 4 notch (I am short), with some sweet weight transfer moves. (I may be jonesing for some real climbing). When Ryan came to my spot, he was not pleased with the choices. Tony then lead the way up a class 4 crack with a butt scoot move. It worked! That's all that matters! Ryan followed afterwards, but wasn't happy to down climb that in the near future.

Lookout crux: downsloping smooth and exposed class 3 in center right. OR super fun class 4 chimney crack on left
Ryan standing where I did my fun moves.

Butt scoot to the rescue!
Terrain above the crux

The terrain above the crux was a lot of fun!!! Though it was a lot more fun to climb up than down, since it was slightly sloping and had some loose rocks on top. Still it was a scramblers paradise for a while.

Tony going up the steeper side
Ryan above the scramble ledges

Above the solid ledges, was a short loose scree section, before the stroll up the solid ridge to the summit. Oh the views!!!

Lookout pano northeast

Lookout pano southwest

A pretty blue lake next to a previous 13er trip

Ice lakes Peaks to south
Lookout world, we're on top OR Power Rangers pose, I guess

After a nice summit stay, we started our descent. Tony went down the crux first, and then I followed on the guys crack side, doing a nice iron cross gymnastics move to lower myself to the ground. Ryan followed with something similar.

Ryan descending the crux

Below that it was just loose scree and talus to go back to the lower basin. Along the way, Ryan kept searching for heart shaped rocks, for the likes

Ryan found his heart!

We made quick work of the descent on the grass and on the trail back to the road. With everyone leaving on Labor Day, we were able to find a nice campsite pullout along the road to grill up some lunch before we parted ways. Well, Ryan headed home immediately, while Tony and I went to explore and find a hot springs to soak in. Nice to clean off 5 days of grime!

Hot Springs Time Machine - take me back to pre injury speed!

South Snowdon

  • mileage: 7.35
  • elevation gain: 2,430'
  • trailhead: Andrews Lake
  • partner: solo
  • class: 2

Since there was no way in hell I was driving back to the F'Range on Monday night, I needed something to do on Tuesday morning, that wouldn't be too rough on my tender feet. I will climb the Naked Lady couloir on Snowdon, so that leaves South Snowdon potentially orphaned. So I figured, with a good trail most of the way, that would be a great option to solo on day 6 of this trip. Plus it would be good to explore the area and see what logistics are required. (Ie day use only at Andrews Lake)

I found an acceptable car camp spot and settled down for the last night out. I had wanted to get up well before sunrise to start, but that just didn't happen. The weather forecast has been interesting the last few days, and I knew the monsoon would start picking up in the week after I left. The trail and switchbacks beyond Andrews Lake are well taken care of and made for a quick ascent to the wilderness check in. At the check in location, there is a trail that went in the direction I wanted to go, so I followed it. I came to a meadow, and saw it continued. Hmm, great!

Snowdon after the turn of the main trail
Frosty meadow

Frosty Flowers

At the other end of the meadow, the trail entered the woods. It seemed to go in the general direction of where I wanted to go, and it was much better than bushwhacking. So I decided to give it a chance, and I kept following it (with periodic checks on the GPS).

Naked Lady looking a bit thin
Cool little water fall in the woods

Life and death of wildflowers

The trail opened up into another meadow with a nice view of Snowdon catching the first morning rays of light.

Snowdon and puffballs
Cool white puff balls

I kept following the trail, until it dumped me at the talus base of Snowdon! Brilliant!

End of well maintained trail

I crossed the talus at the flat base of the pile above, and then went up the steep grass to the bench below the peak. From there I was presented with 2 options. Follow the base of the cliffs on nasty talus, or swing out to the right/west on rolling grassy/rocky tundra and have a pleasant walk. Tough call, I know!

Crossing beyond a still pond to the nice tundra walk

I walked on delightful tundra and slabby rocks, with the occasional snow field to cross, all the way to the base of the route up S. Snowdon. From there it was a steep talus hop up 400' to the summit. That 400' was brutal on day 6!

The summit is pretty broad, and took my GPS to aim me in the correct direction. Kinda like Flora - where's the summit again?

Snowdon pano Northwest

S Snowdon pano west into the Wemi

Chicago Basin peaks
Twilight group

Snowdon - Potential east face ski...
Sneffels group

I spent a long time enjoying the last summit of the trip. Even took a work teleconference call! Best office!

I had toyed with the idea of adding on Snowdon, for fun, but I started hearing a lot of voices from it's direction. Then I saw 8 (register said 9) hikers on the summit. No thanks! I don't need them potentially above me kicking rocks. So I forwent the extra summit, and just descended down to the tundra below.

Snowdon summit party
Wemi view from notch on ridge

Down in the basin below, I had a pleasant walk and boot ski down to the off shoot trail, where I started to run into a lot more people. Even a trail runner, who randomly passed me before the main trail. Must be the G&T of the Durango area!

Pleasant tundra terrain
Some boot skiing fun, S. Snowdon on far left

Can you spot the trail runner?

On return to the lower meadow before the trail junction, I noted 2 trails that went through. A higher and lower one. The higher is better and more established, but on the trek up, I didn't see it, since it went over some bare rock without a cairn.

2 trails across meadow, one on right is more established
Look back at Snowdons with 2 trails in meadow

Some quick work on the switchbacks, I was back at the lake, with only a long drive home!

Andrews Lake, with Snowdon in background

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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