Peak(s):  Leahy Pk  -  13,322 feet
"Electric Pass Pk"  -  13,635 feet
Date Posted:  05/27/2020
Date Climbed:   05/16/2020
Author:  supranihilest
Additional Members:   whileyh, MWatson
 Electric Pass? Someone Forgot to Plug in the Power  

With a climb the previous day of nearby Cathedral Peak, Whiley and I wanted something easier. Whiley's friend Marisa would be joining us as well, and we weren't sure what the snow conditions would be like with large daily temperature swings and sun, so we settled on unranked Leahy Peak and bicentennial "Electric Pass Peak," since there was significantly less snow on both peaks. I didn't make Whiley get up quite as early today, since snow wouldn't be our main mode of transport, but we still got started at 6:15. The day began warmish, and we were lucky that the snow on the trail was still frozen; it would be a mess by the time we got down.

20124_01
Malemute Peak.
20124_02
Marisa and I on the frozen trail in the morning. Photo: Whiley H.

We reached the steep switchbacks from the day before, and since we'd left some steps in it we were able to boot up instead of get the traction and axes out.

20124_03
Like the Zorro Z, but with switchbacks. What a terrible analogy.

When we hit the "Cathedral Lake/Electric Pass" trail sign we turned right towards the pass, then hiked to the top of a small hill below Leahy with nice views of the surrounding peaks. The subtle subtext here is that only the views of the surrounding peaks were nice, because Leahy is an absolute lump compared to everything else around.

20124_04
Ooo (Cathedral Peak).
20124_05
Ahhh (Malemute Peak and assorted nice views).
20124_06
Yawn (Leahy Peak).

Instead of heading directly up Leahy's steep south slopes, which did have enough snow on them to climb probably halfway up, we continued up to a small ridge that then led to a shallower, drier slope up Leahy. This ridge is most of the left skyline in the photo above and would just be a walkup. The views of Cathedral from this shallow ridge were stunning. The views of "Electric Pass Peak" and Leahy Peak... not so much.

20124_07
Cathedral. How do you go from this...
20124_08
... to this meager lump? "Electric Pass Peak".
20124_09
Even more boring (as well as unranked), Leahy Peak.

The snow at this point in the morning was still nice and firm but numerous willow patches slowed us down. Eventually the snow abated and we reached open tundra with Bells mudstone strewn about.

20124_10
Marisa coming up Leahy with Malemute Peak in center and Castle Peak on the right. Photo: Whiley H.
20124_11
Up to the summit of Leahy. Photo: Whiley H.

Leahy's summit came quickly and unexcitingly, less than three hours after setting out. I'm curious about the geology of this area because the peaks as you drive up Castle Creek Road, including Leahy and "Electric Pass", are rounded and visually uninspiring but immediately nearby is an entire wall of rugged, mindblowing peaks starting with Taylor and going through Star, "Oyster", Pearl, Castle and Conundrum (which are far more wild than they appear from their standard route), Malemute, and Cathedral. There are additional rugged peaks farther west in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area but these form the southeast corner of the wilderness and shift from rugged monsters to soft lumps in the blink of an eye.

20124_12
"Electric Pass Peak" along the ridge and Hayden Peak right of the central peak, which is unnamed and unranked.
20124_13
Cathedral looking absolutely nothing like the peaks north of it.
20124_14
The entire area from Taylor Peak through "Electric Pass Peak".

Clouds were building farther west towards the Bells so we hung out on the summit of Leahy for a few minutes to see if things worsened. With things appearing stable we set off towards "Electric Pass Peak" on the ridge. There's an old trail that switchbacks up between Leahy and "Electric Pass Peak" to Electric Pass, but we were above the trail until past the saddle with the two peaks.

20124_15
Bland.
20124_16
Pretty good trail, actually.
20124_17
Typical Elk choss, rotten as all get out. Photo: Whiley H.
20124_18
Fun fact: like poison dart frogs, rocks have evolved bright colors to warn predators to keep their distance. Yes, I completely made that up. Photo: Whiley H.

The trail switchbacked up the ridge crest for a ways then shot straight across "EPP"'s south slopes towards its namesake Electric Pass. The disuse of the trail became more apparent as we hiked. Some sections were covered in scree and talus, some sucking mud, some just eroded away down the very steep slope. We ran into a snowfield and figured the "best" way up would be to simply crawl up the loose trash that made up the entire hillside, hoping that we wouldn't cause it to collapse.

20124_19
I have never had so much fun. Ever. stares wildly

The three of us spread out laterally so we wouldn't be kicking rocks down on each other's heads, and began to hike/scramble/fall up the extremely loose slope. This kind of stuff was a true two steps forward, one step back kind of affair as every footfall sank into the shifting rock.

20124_20
Photos can't even make this look half fun, can they? Photo: Whiley H.
20124_21
Marisa fighting gravity. Photo: Whiley H.

We made a somewhat traversing ascent up the slope towards the ridge crest, which was capped with snow. I was able to climb around a small, rotten tower, somehow the only stable thing on the slope, while the two of them navigated the sea of choss.

20124_22
The tower (left) which I "scrambled" up to and around. The small outcrop on the right might have been "solid" as well, but I just figured it was awful like everything else.

While the climb up the slope wasn't long it was tiring and annoying, as well as potentially dangerous. When we got to the ridge crest we were glad to be off of the loose stuff.

20124_23
Me topping out on "Electric Pass Peak". Photo: Whiley H.
20124_24
Looking down the ridge. One Marisa for scale. Photo: Whiley H.

The remaining ascent to the summit of "Electric Pass Peak" was a simple affair; still loose but not steep at all.

20124_26
Marisa, Whiley, and I with Castle (left) and Cathedral (right) towering over everything. Photo: Marisa W.
20124_27
North to Hayden Peak A.
20124_28
West towards the Bells.
20124_29
Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak, Snowmass Mountain, and Capitol Peak. This is the Elk at its finest!
20124_30
Closeup of Castle and Cathedral. If you think Castle is a boring peak you need to see it from surrounding peaks.

We considered going out to Hayden Peak A, an unranked bump on the ridge north of "EPP", but the weather had continued to build slowly. We waited once again and decided to bail on it, what with dark clouds building over the entire area. Chances of storms were low but we figured this was that 10% coming in, so we called it and would come back for Hayden another day. Back down the rock slip'n'slide we went to the trail, causing small cascades of rocks as we beat our way down the mountain.

20124_31
This gives a sense of how awful this stuff really is and how much there is. Presumably not steep enough that a fall would be uncontrolled, but a theory not worth testing either.
20124_32
Good stuff. Goooooood gooood stuff...
20124_33
Rockalanche incoming!

We sort of ran/skated down the loose stuff to the trail, which we then took to the saddle. When the trail disappeared into snow we just cut straight across Leahy back towards where we came, since we knew that would be dry until we were close to the basin.

20124_34
Making our own way across Leahy. Taylor Peak and Star Peak are the peaks in the background.

When we reached the ridge we'd ascended we went back down and got back onto the snow, which by now had been baking in the sun and was a soft, posthole-y mess of slop. About four out of every five steps would be great and then the fifth would punch straight up to our waists and we'd have to dig ourselves out. At the same time it was sweltering since the dark clouds from before, much to our chagrin, had dissipated and the sun was out.

20124_35
Suns out, guns out.

The remaining descent was of course not noteworthy, minus the postholing, though being a Saturday we saw giant hordes of people out. It seemed like half asked if the snow on the trail ahead got any better. Nope, sorry, guys. Your tennis shoes and shorts were a bad choice today! Enjoy the muddy, soaking wet posthole forest! We got back to our cars quickly, then went into Aspen and ate ice cream, baked goods, and Thai and Hawaiian food. While walking around town we saw this beaut of a car. Summer's here and this proves it!

20124_36
So sexy.
20124_37
Rev my engine, baby!


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H., Marisa W.
Trailhead: Cathedral Lake
Total distance: 9.44 miles
Total elevation gain: 4,246 feet
Total time: 6:21:38
Peaks: One ranked thirteener, one unranked thirteener

  • Leahy Peak, 13,322' (uranked)
  • "Electric Pass Peak", 13,635'

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Cathedral Lake Trailhead Leahy Peak 2:56:27 2:56:27 14:17
Leahy Peak "Electric Pass Peak" 0:36:55 3:47:39 20:31
"Electric Pass Peak" Cathedral Lake Trailhead 2:13:27 6:21:38 Trip End

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 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37


 Comments or Questions
whileyh

I love choss
05/27/2020 19:52
Donât forget about Yellow Boy. Heâs calling me.... and Ski Hayden Peak... and Peak 12060. Weâll be back.


supranihilest

So many peaks
05/27/2020 21:15
So little time.

You hear that, peaks?

We'll be back.


Mtnman200

Nice report & photos
05/28/2020 08:56
Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed hiking through the mashed potatoes in the afternoon... Ha!


supranihilest

Postholes
05/28/2020 09:42
Me every single time the postholes start:

I don't know why I still go out when there's snow.



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