Peak(s):  French Mtn  -  13,940 feet
Casco Pk  -  13,908 feet
Frasco BM  -  13,876 feet
"Lackawanna"  -  13,823 feet
PT 13,660 B  -  13,660 feet
Date Posted:  10/02/2006
Modified:  09/24/2007
Date Climbed:   09/30/2006
Author:  doumall
 French Group  

French Group: Saturday September 30, 2006

Upper Lake Creek TH
Lackawanna NW Ridge
Ridge from Lackawanna to Casco
Ridge from Casco to Frasco
Ridge from Frasco to French
Back over Frasco and descent of North Lackawanna Gulch

Time: 11 hours, 40 mins
Round trip mileage: 9.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,160'

Prakash Manely and I decided to get out and hike together to prepare our team for some winter summits. He is working on the 14ers and I am out for the 13ers so we decided to get the French group Saturday and Yale by its East Ridge Sunday. The snow from the previous weeks was much less of a problem after a week of melting and strong winds so we planed to get the entire French group in one outing.

Starting from our camp at North Lake Creek Trailhead we made our way up an old road into the lower portion of Lackawanna Gulch. To gain the Northwest Ridge of Lackawanna we had to bushwhack up steep slopes and pesky cliff bands covered in 18 inches of soft snow. I was a little concerned with the amount effort this required so early in the day and wondered if the route would be completed. Once on the ridge at 12,800' we quickly made our way to the summit of point 13,660 B, a soft rank 13er. Time was not in our favor at this point so I quickly made my way over to summit Lackawanna while Prakash began the ridge to Casco.

Ridge from Pt 13,660 to Lackawanna

The summit block of Lackawanna afforded me a brief class 3 chimney climb and a great view of our remaining route. Fresh goat tracks traced lines across the snow around the area. After a very short stay I began making my way toward Casco and Prakash. This seldom traveled ridge was class 2+ with many optional class 3 moves. We coined two mini summits along the ridge 'Blasco' and 'Tabasco'. I couldn't find any pictures of the ridge from Lackawanna to Casco previous to our climb, so I will attempt to post several here for future hikers.

Route from Lackawanna over Blasco Tabasco Casco and Frasco to French

Southern half of ridge from Lackawanna to Casco

Nouthern half of ridge from Lackawanna to Casco

We reached the summit of Casco around 1:45 pm. I was a little concerned with time considering we had two mountains left and we needed to call my girlfriend Debbie by 10 pm or she would call SAR. We had to consider the hour drive to get to cell phone reception after getting back to the truck too. I found a Texas state flag on top of Casco. Leave it up to a bunch of Texans to litter a great summit with a stomach churning icon of misplaced ego. Don't worry, its gone now. On to Frasco! The climb down Casco's North Ridge was interesting in the snow as deep drifts made the direct ridge descent unsafe. Instead we crossed onto the face slightly and plunged stepped through several feet of snow to large talus until the ridge was a smart alternative.

Ridge from Casco to Frasco and French

North Ridge of Cacso in back, Frasco south ridge in front

The ridge up to Frasco was bittersweet. Many rotten towers have to be bypassed to the West side of the ridge but some of the towers were solid and provided a good deal of fun scrambling. Prakash was feeling the long day above 13k so I made my way ahead to Frasco and then over the French.

Ridge from French to Frasco

The view of Elbert from French does not due the highest point in Colorado justice. I began to feel the elevation gain of the day on the way back to Frasco where Prakash was now waiting. It sure was nice to get the final up of the route behind me. The time was 4 pm and the route was complete, score! We made our way back down about half of Frasco's South ridge and then used a scree slope to descend into the north branch of Lackawanna Gulch. By staying to the North of the drainage, we avoided most of the snow and rapidly reached tree line. Below tree line we followed plentiful animal trails back to the old road and eventually the trailhead. We saw several fat grouse which was a nice addition to the trip.

This was an amazing day to be above tree line in Colorado. We were back in BV by 7:45 pm for a steak dinner and a hotel to get rest for Yale's East Ridge the following day.

 Comments or Questions

Thanks Chris
11/13/2007 19:50
boots half your size? suprised you got out of the parking lot

Martian Bachelor
‘Blasco’ and ‘Tabasco’ ?!
11/30/2010 17:20
It's a great wilderness ridge, isn't it?

I climbed directly up from the Lake Crk trailhead to skirt Pt 13,660 on its S side to get directly to "Lackawanna". I saw the sheep that live up there in the basin SW-WSW of Pt 13,660. There was no flag on Casco in July of 2002.

And, yes, getting down that N side of Casco was a bit of an adventure. Hearing thunder off in the distance, I bailed at the first saddle W back down sucky loose rock slopes to tundra and eventually the parking area without getting the whole High 13er Trifecta including French, but I knew someone younger/stronger could do it all - and live to tell the story. (Trying to break in a new pair of boots 1/2 size too small is also part of my excuse.)

Great pics ya got there.

* Chris

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