Peak(s):  "Magdalene Mtn"  -  13,762 feet
Date Posted:  09/03/2020
Date Climbed:   09/02/2020
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Rockdale Trailhead   

Magdalene Mountain – 13,762


RT Length: 15.32 miles

Elevation Gain: 4074’

The creek crossings to get to the Rockdale Trailhead were easier than I’d anticipated. 6-8 inches of water weren’t difficult to pass (it’s now September in a lower snow year). In the dark the willows and water made navigation fun. Colorado pinstriping indeed.


There were only two stream crossings, just at the beginning of the 4WD road, but tons of short ups and downs and puddles. I drove slowly and I’m pretty good at navigation, but still managed to hit the underside of my truck a couple of times (I have a stock Tundra). This picture is from one of the easier areas of the drive. Most of the difficult areas have tree cover, making pictures difficult.


At 10880’ there’s a sign that says the road ends (even though it looks like it goes further). There are several large camping sites here. I parked my truck and got out my gear


I was on the trail at 5am, following the 4WD dirt road south.


After hiking for .3 of a mile I came to the ‘old’ parking area, now covered by an avalanche. There’s a nice trail through this if you stick to the left.


After the avalanche area the 4WD road picks up again


After hiking for .75 miles total I came to the junction of the trail and the road. Both ways go around the lake. I chose to go up and over the hill


Giving me a good look at Cholsey Lake


And then I followed the trail back down the hill and into the basin.


This is a class 1 trail that heads south through pine trees, willows, and some small creek crossings


At around 3 miles of hiking the trail started turning left, curving southeast. Here the trail became faint, but there were plenty of well-constructed cairns to guide the way up to the pass at 12,500’. Off to my left I saw a huge bull elk, bounding away.



At this point the trail was now gone, but I had a great view of Pear Lake. Pear Lake wasn’t where I was headed however. I turned left and followed the ridge northeast, staying as high as possible.


My goal was to aim for this gully. There are a lot of ups and downs here, so I tried to stay high.


Here’s the path I took, step by step, to get to the gully




The safest way to approach this gully is to start out by going left around this boulder, and then straight up, following the scree trail


There are a lot of loose rocks here, the kind that cause rockslides, so watch your footing.


The top of the gully put me at 12,860’. Now it was time to head back down, staying as high as possible, but still losing about 300’ of elevation as I traversed my way over to Magdalene’s ridge. Here’s an overall of the route I took


And step by step: First, down the gully. The most stable area is to stick to the left, near the rock


Then I headed southeast, staying high


The rocks give way to tundra. I kept aiming for the ridge


Keeping Silver King Lake to my right, I made it to the base of the ridge. Here there’s a cairned trail that picks up and will lead you to the summit. It starts by zig-zagging up and around the first ledge


Then following the well cairned trail to the saddle



It looks like the trail has been covered in rockfall in areas, but the cairns help to stay on course


Once at the saddle I turned right and followed the ridge southwest


There are several social trails up this ridge, but I was able to summit by sticking to the ridge proper, keeping this class 2


I summited Magdalene Mountain at 9:40am


Magdalene Mountain:

There are 2 summit registers here.


Time to head back the way I came. First, down the ridge


Once at the saddle I turned left and followed the trail back down the mountain


Here’s an overview of the route back to the pass


And step by step:



Here’s looking back up at the gully. Once again, I stayed north to ascend


From the top of the gully, here’s the overall route back to the pass


And step by step. Down the gully and across the rocks


Staying high


Then taking the plateau back to the pass, where the trail picks back up again


I turned right at the cairns and headed back down to the basin


I looked longingly at the ridge that connects Pear Peak with PT 13517. I really wanted to do that ridge today. It was an absolutely perfect day, but I was short on time, as the drive in had taken longer than expected. I had to get back home and finish working for the day. Oh well, it will be a fun adventure in the future. Here are some pictures of the route back down. Spirits high, I rather enjoyed the hike out.


Back to the lake and up the hill


Past the avalanche area


And back to my truck. I made it back to my truck at 2pm, making this a 15.32 mile hike with 4074’ of elevation gain in 9 hours


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

Another approach idea
09/03/2020 19:33
All of the trip reports I've seen use this route or doing the slog all the way up Pine Creek. In early August a friend and I did it differently. We started at the top of Cottonwood Pass, went N on the CDT to Texas Creek Trail, east to Magdalene Mine Trail junction, and camped. The next day we went N on the Magdalene Mine trail to about 11,800, West to the ridge at about 12,400, then North to the sub peak and East to the summit. Back to camp for another beautiful night and out the next morning. We loved being in the basin and doing the approach that way. I realize that many people don't have the luxury of time or are pursuing goals based on speed, but for me I enjoy sipping it like a Bordeaux, rather than slug it like PBR. I did something similar on Ice and North Apostle the next week, and was in the basin alone all night. Magical.

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