Peak(s):  White Rock Mtn  -  13,540 feet
White BM  -  13,401 feet
Date Posted:  08/17/2020
Date Climbed:   08/15/2020
Author:  Sbenfield
Additional Members:   bludwig
 White Rock Traverse   

13ers White Rock Mtn & White BM

I’ve always looked longingly at the White Rock group from Crested Butte. It is always easy to see the distinguishable white rock popping out in the distance. For some reason I always assumed these were easy peaks to hike, but I found out they were anything but! Regardless it was still a ton of fun!

I met my usual hiking buddy bryan (bludwig) in Buena Vista and we drove over cottonwood and into CB. It was my turn to pick what we’d hike this week & I picked the White Rock group & the Treasury group in the southern Elks. I love this part of Colorado in both the winter and the summer. I’ve never hiked 13ers down here so I was super excited to hike some rare peaks.

After crushing some Sherpa Cafe, we started to make it to the trailhead. It appears there are two ways of hiking the White BM & White Rock Mountain, either Queen Basin or West Brush Creek. We picked West Brush Creek. This way yields bushwack through an awesome basin. The road up is a little bumpy and 4wd recommended. Regardless, we rammed a CRV up it and called it good when the road ran out. The trail for nearby 13er Teocalli is also here. If I feel like it, I’ll return for Teocalli someday.

We set up camp, got some minimal sleep, and were on the trail by 3.45am. We started early assuming we’d bushwack a lot and we were definitely right. The trail ends very quickly into the hike & it is essentially pick your own adventure all the way to the peaks. Pretty quickly into the hike we discovered a long willow cave. We were surrounded 100% by willows for 10 or so minutes. There did seem to be some path through it but it was likely an animal trail. Eventually, despite cuts & bruises, we made it through the willow cave. I imagine that the willow cave is avoidable but we were too stubborn and just forced our way through it. Somewhere in the cave Bryan lost his sunglasses causing him to be extra grumpy the entire morning. From here we sort of just went up knowing eventually we’d pop out into an upper basin. We loosely followed a gpx but took many liberties from it. After a never ending forest with many animal eyes, we reached tree line. There did appear to be a actual trail here for just a little bit. We could now see both the White BM & White Rock Mountain. In addition, Bryan started to be a little less grumpy which was ideal. Despite the recent wildfire, we did catch a cool sunrise!!


The way up the BM was not too bad at all. We continued left around the BM and obtained the ridge. From the ridge we could see lots of elk which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately the ridge was infested with goat poop. This may be the highest density of goat poop anywhere in the world. Check every handhold for poop before committing. This is mostly class 2 so just try not to use your hands.

Grumpy Bryan starting up the ridge

Bryan working his way up the poopy class 2 ridge to White BM
A little higher on the ridge to White BM. White Rock Mtn on the left. Looks close but not really haha

We eventually made the summit of BM, which had a summit register. Not too many people up here. There was no pen either. Despite the wildfire we could see some good views of the Elk Range. Castle Pk especially looked great from up here!

Castle Peak looking so cool!!

We were feeling good so we decided to traverse to White Rock Mountain. We read trip reports saying to avoid the ridge direct and instead drop down the BM. We found dropping off the other side of the BM to be difficult and dangerous. At one point we thought about descending the massive gully next to the impossible-to-miss massive notch, but once we were inside it we crawled right back out since it seemed way too loose and dangerous.

In the end, we slowly picked our way down BM’s north eastern face. You can’t really see the bottom but the route eventually goes if you follow the gpx attached to this report. If you deviate too much you may cliff out. The rock was incredibly loose and steep. It was probably a really uncomfortable class 3 descent. I’d call this infuriating Class 3. We wished we had helmets just in case. In hindsight we should have come back down BM the way we came up, and then traversed to White Rock Mtn. That way you can avoid the infuriating Class 3 descent. Below are approximate images of our route. As you can tell, it is pretty easy to get into difficult terrain if you are not careful!

Descending White BM looking at remaining route up White Rock Mountain
Looking back at our approximate Infuriating Class 3 descent off of White BM

Upon reaching the bottom of BM, we traversed a boulder field and headed directly for White Rock Mountain. We basically just went straight up the big boulders. Some are a bit loose so always check. I whacked my shins on several boulders. This part was fairly easy and eventually White Rock’s summit came into view. Unfortunately, the last part of White Rock Mountain is a decomposing sand castle of cataclysmic garbage! Definitely Infuriating Class 3 here. I am no elite hiker, but this was by far the worst rock quality I’ve ever experienced. Every handhold basically ripped out. At least there was not a huge amount of exposure, although there was enough I didn't want to fall. There are several inconveniently placed spires that make for difficult ascent. We sort of picked our way around the spires, clinging to combinations of sand intermixed with goat poop. I would recommend hand sanitizer for this hike. After traversing an incredibly small distance in a long time, we eventually made the top agreeing it was way harder than we anticipated. We stayed at the summit for about 15 seconds because we were eager to get off this peak as soon as possible. At least the views were excellent.

Looking at the difficult part, Be careful past here.
Last bit of White Rock Mountain. The rock is loose & terrible. We went around the spires but it wasn't graceful

It is really steep and loose. Bryan is extra grumpy here
Looking back at some of the difficulty
Rare views of Southern Elks from White Rock Mountain's summit

Views of 14er Big Boys from White Rock Mountain's summit
View of 12er Gothic Mtn from White Rock Mountain's summit

The descent off the summit was equally as annoying but I was feeling pretty good for free soloing this poop pile.

The way back was pretty uneventful as we tried our best to follow gpx tracks back. Again, we took several liberties and basically just went down whatever looked easiest. I really enjoyed the views of this basin. It felt really pristine & untraveled. We got back to the car at 2.30 and chatted with some bikers for a while. In addition Bryan told me I’m not allowed to pick a hike ever again as punishment for today.

Overall, White BM & White Rock Mtn required a lot of bushwacking and good navigational skills. These peaks are great if you are looking for a uncomfortable challenge! They can be traversed as described above although we found it to be difficult and dangerous. Instead we would recommend returning the ascent route of BM, and then hiking White Rock Mtn after. I don’t think this would loose a significant amount of time. The top of White Rock Mtn is very loose so be careful! The area is very beautiful, and even if you don’t want to hike the peaks, the basin is a remote place for a bushwack and maybe a picnic.

In the picture below, you can see our recommendation of what to do instead. Again, we'd recommend returning the way you came, and then to White Rock Mtn. The red Xs represent the infuriating class 3 descent haha

Suggested deviation to our GPX

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 16 17 19

Comments or Questions

08/18/2020 10:40
Y'all are hitting the ones I keep looking at from the 12ers over there.
These are on the list!

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