Peak(s):  PT 13,300 E  -  13,300 feet
Bridal Pk  -  13,510 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2020
Modified:  02/04/2021
Date Climbed:   07/12/2020
Author:  CaptainSuburbia
 Columbine Lake 13ers   

This was a beautiful outing to a rarely climbed unranked 13er and a stunningly blue lake. As a bonus we climbed a ranked 13er on the way out. There are several trailhead options to access this lake and surrounding peaks. We chose to start at the end of FR 821 which started at the big switchback on US 550 just south of Red Mountain Pass. It's a rough, narrow dirt road with many tight switchbacks, but pretty manageable with 4wd and clearance. I parked my truck at the last pullout at approximately 11,400 feet where there was plenty of room to turn around. The road continued a bit further to a mine, but there was no reason to drive any higher. There was plenty of room to set up camp by the truck, and we had the place to ourselves. The next morning Sonia and I were hiking by 5:30, and headed north-northeast for a few hundred yards following a faint trail before turning west up a steep grass gully.

Grass gully (much steeper than it looks). Pic taken on descent.

This gully was not very enjoyable and probably the toughest part of the day. There was a faint trail here and there which helped out a little.

Near the top of the gully looking down on the Million Dollar Hwy.

The gully topped out at an elevation of about 12,400 feet. Next, we continued west, easily working our way through several rock bands until reaching the 12,800 foot contour line.

Working our way through rock bands

From here it was smooth sailing. along the 12,800 foot contour line. We followed this line for several miles all the way across the basin to Columbine Lake and the base of unnamed 13300 E . There were cairns along the way, but they weren't really needed as we could see the lake and peak the entire time. This portion of the hike was beautiful as the spectacular views were endless.

Our hike along the 12,800 foot contour line started here. This was a 13,200 foot point coming of the east ridge of Bridal Peak.
Following the 12,800 foot contour line to the right in this pic and then curving left towards 13300 E (center left above)
Getting closer to lake and our peak
Columbine Lake and stream we crossed

As we got near the lake we started heading more south and approached the lake on it's west side. There was a small stream to cross between Columbine Lake and another much smaller lake. We then slowly worked our way around to the south side of the lake to the base of 13300 E where we would start our ascent. There were several tents set up in stunning locations around the lake, but we were the only ones here to climb the peak. I believe these backpackers came up the Columbine Lake trail originating off FR 820. From this point we started angling up a gully on the northwest face of 13300 E. There was a small snowfield we had to cross first, and care needed to be taken to avoid ending up in the lake. Next, we went up a small scree slope with a faint trail which led to a grass gully.

Our path to the grass gully and saddle can be seen here
An easily crossed snowfield.
Scree slope with faint trail leading to grass gully
Closer look at scree trail
Looking back on lake and snow we crossed
Grass gully leading to saddle

We continued up the grass gully to a broad saddle where we could see the summit block. At first look, the final climb to the summit appeared as if it might be difficult. However, as we approached, we found a weakness. On the southeast side there was a gully that would go without too much difficulty. It was fairly steep and a bit loose but nothing beyond a class 2+.

Topping out at the saddle. That highpoint on the left is unranked T12.
Summit block
Class 2+ gully leading to summit
This convenient slot gave easy access to the summit
Summit of 13300 E with Columbine Lake far below and Lookout Peak off to the left.
Summit view looking northwest.
Lookout Peak with the Wilson's in the distance on left
Summit photo with Bridal Peak on far right

The weather was perfect and the views were spectacular, so we probably spent 30 minutes enjoying the summit before reluctantly heading down. Our next destination was Bridal Peak which would only be a slight detour as we headed back across the basin towards our starting point. Bridal was ranked and I wasn't expecting anything too difficult to reach the summit.

Sonia and Leo descending back down the 2+ gully
Columbine Lake from grass gully
Oh so blue! Bridal Peak rising in the distance.

After descending the scree and crossing the snowfield I headed due north with my dog to the saddle between T12 and Bridal Peak. There were a few snowfields to cross along the way, but I reached the saddle in no time. I then headed northeast over easy terrain straight towards Bridal along the ridge. I went to the right around a small bump and quickly reached the base of Bridal Peak.

Bridal Peak on right, saddle on left and small point in middle
Getting closer to saddle
Base of Bridal Peak

Bridal peak was a fairly straight forward class 2 climb rising 350 feet or so above the saddle. The slope was fairly steep and composed mostly of scree and dinner plates. I was able to follow a faint trail most of the way to the summit.

Lower slopes of Bridal
A bit higher up
Faint trail
Bridal Peak summit with a view of Columbine Lake and 13300 E
Looking down Bridals north ridge
Looking west at Lewis Lake and The Wilson's far in the distance.
Looking south again towards 13300 E
Blue Lake to the north and Sneffels

After some photos we quickly descended back to the saddle without difficulty. We then took a sharp turn towards the east to rejoin the 12,800 foot contour line and our path back to the trailhead.

Looking down Bridals south ridge
Descending Bridal
An interesting rock house we passed. I would love to know the history of this.
Cruising along the 12,800 foot contour line towards our descent gully.

Our descent back to the truck was uneventful and we made good time. We ended up travelling 7.5 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. This was an awesome adventure that I would recommend to anyone looking to get away. The ranked and unnamed 13,159 could easily be added as well as a side trip to Three Needles Peak. Thanks for reading!

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

Comments or Questions

07/21/2020 08:33
I need to spend more time in that area of the state.


That Lake!
07/21/2020 20:12
Nice TR. I was wondering about that approach as it looks shorter than the standard route we took up into the basin last August on or way to Bridal. Columbine Lake alone is worth the hike whatever approach you use!


07/22/2020 07:52
Joel - Thank you! Yes, I need to spend more time there as well!

Hoot - Thank you! That lake is amazing and more than worth the trip alone. Doesn't get crowded either. I think this route is about 1.5 miles rt shorter to the lake. Less elevation gain too. With a good 4wd FR 822 works as well.


07/22/2020 15:29
Nice report! Thank you for sharing your route. That is probably the bluest water I have ever seen!


07/22/2020 15:30
Nice report! Thank you for sharing your route. That is probably the bluest water I have ever seen!


07/23/2020 09:21
Thanks RedRover! It was a beautiful route!. Yeah that blue was amazing!!


great report
02/04/2021 14:10
I really want to visit this lake now, I just don't have 4x4 haha!


Thank you CaptCO
02/04/2021 14:16
You and your dog would love it! Plus you can climb 3 easy 13ers with amazing views. You don't need 4x4 for standard route. I took a weird approach. Google Columbine Lake hike for better route that is 2wd accessible.

   Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.