Peak(s):  Teakettle Mtn  -  13,819 feet
Date Posted:  06/28/2020
Date Climbed:   06/27/2020
Author:  Jon Frohlich
Additional Members:   Brian Thomas
 Things you never thought you'd do   

RT Distance: 4.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,826 Feet
Time: 6.5 hours

Teakettle from near Coffeepot

Teakettle has long been a peak that I wondered if I'd ever actually summit. At least twice I've been at or near the trailhead and never even got out of the car to start the hike. Weather cancelled other plans before I even made the drive to Ouray. My lack of confidence in my rope skills made it something I had been reluctant to attempt alone. This time the weather forecast looked cooperative and Brian was willing to make the drive with me and go for it. I took Friday off from work and we headed down around noon for the drive to Ouray. We found a place to camp a little before 8pm and settled in for a short night. Based on the forecast we planned to get up early and give ourselves the best possible chance to beat the weather.

At about 5:15am the next morning we set off from the outhouse at the Sneffels trailhead and started up the hill. We saw two guys ahead of us (turned out to Mike Offerman and Luke Plumley) and another group that mistakenly thought that our trail was for Sneffels. We quickly corrected them and pointed them the right way and set off after the other two up the steep grass.

The approach. Or straight up the hill.

The other two guys raced ahead up the slope while we went our own pace. We angled towards Coffeepot and the slope that way at least looked like it would keep us on the grass for a while. It's still ridiculously steep but at least it wasn't loose. Yet. It had been years since I'd been in Yankee Boy Basin and it was amazing to get reacquainted with the views that surrounded us.

Brian headed up. Gilpin behind.
Heading for Coffeepot (slightly left of center on the ridge)
Have to admit the view is amazing
The view to the south

Eventually around 13,000 feet we ran out of grass and transitioned to....suck. Just plain suck. Finding secure footing was a challenge and forward progress became a game of figuring the least awful way to ascend. Brian and I tried to stay out of each other's path just in case of rockfall. I hugged the wall next to one of the towers for a while because at least the wall was solid even though the footing underneath wasn't at all.

Coffepot getting closer but we have to go up *that*
Potosi across the way

We finally topped out on the ridge near Coffeepot and tried to work out how in the world to get over to the black gully. Or as Brian put it "how are we supposed to get over THERE?". Eventually we figured out that the traverse started a bit lower down and carefully negotiated our way around a snowfield and across the loose stuff over to the base of the gully.

Might as well get a photo before we deal with the next part.

Oh yeah, that looks fantastic. I called it the poop chute.


Brian exiting the black gully

We ascended the gully close together to minimize rockfall danger and carefully negotiated our way up. It's pretty awful but at least it went quickly and we took the left branch and Class 3 exit. At this point we felt like we were through the worst of it and we were mostly correct. There was still a bit of distance to go but the next gully was just loose dirt instead of loose dirt and rocks. So that was a plus. At the top of the second gully we ran into the other two guys coming down from the summit who gave us a bit of beta regarding the anchor on the summit block.

Coming up the second and much more pleasant gully
Out of the gullies and just some distance to traverse to the tower
View from near the top of the black gully. Second gully is hidden around the corner.

Coming up the last bit right before the summit tower
We have arrived

We spent a few minutes doing our obligatory photos in the handle and then got the gear out for the summit pitch. I brought a 30m rope and Brian brought some pro. The 30m rope ended up being plenty long enough and Brian put in two cams on the ascent while I belayed him up. I had forgotten my rock shoes and while the first part of the pitch went fine the second part became a bit of a pain when I couldn't get my boot to stick on the only foothold I could see. Eventually after a few attempts I managed to make the move and joined Brian on the tiny summit.

Me in the handle
Brian being a poser
Getting the rope sorted out for the rappel
View looking east
Sneffels over there.

We didn't spend much time on the summit as we still had to get down and we both agreed this was no place to be if the weather changed. It felt great to finally be on the summit of Teakettle after years and years of aborted attempts though and right at that moment the weather was perfect. I thanked Brian for leading the pitch and we started getting the rope rearranged for the rappel. I thought about how far I'd come as a climber that this felt....normal. I recalled back to when I was starting the 14ers and never dreamed I'd be doing anything like this in my life.

We got the rope figured out and set and I got ready to rappel down first. I didn't have any issues and landed right where I wanted and got off the rope so Brian could come down. I walked back over to get my SLR so I could take pictures of Brian coming down.

Brian starting down
Hero shot
Potosi from near the top

We got packed back up after eating some food and then started to head back down. We had no route finding issues and found ourselves quickly back at the top of the black gully. Again we descended close together for safety and then debated our descent path. We knew we could go back to Coffeepot or we could just descend the slope below the black gully. We chose the closer option and while it was terrible, awful, and loose it got us down relatively quickly without injury and back on grass.

Don't go up that
Grass is wonderful
Off the hard parts

Back on the grass we headed back a bit to the east and found ourselves a few hundred feet above the car. A bit more steep downhill and we reached the car just after noon for a 6 1/2 hour roundtrip.

One last look

We quickly packed ourselves up and distanced ourselves from the tourist hordes. I drove slowly down the road while Brian contemplated his love for the shelf sections. Or not. Still feels like a bit of a whirlwind and amazing that I finally got this one done. Only 4 more to go.....

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Brad Snider

Congrats on Teakettle!
06/28/2020 12:01
Great pics Jon!


Glad you got it!
06/28/2020 12:32
You and Brian earned that one for sure. And like Brad wrote - nice, nice pix!


Great job
06/28/2020 16:43
What are your thoughts on free soloĂ¢‚¬„¢ing the crux?

Chicago Transplant

06/29/2020 19:51
Nice job Jon and Brian! Although I was disappointed to not see any pictures of Maya, Zero or Sprinkles on the summit...

Good luck with the last 4 cents!

07/09/2020 09:36
Thanks for the great write-up and pictures. Looks like a great time!

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