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Peak(s):  Unnamed 13350  -  13,350 feet
Unnamed 13015  -  13,015 feet
Date Posted:  09/22/2020
Modified:  09/23/2020
Date Climbed:   09/16/2020
Author:  bergsteigen
 Forgotten Elk Gems   

13,020 B & 13,336

  • Mileage: 15.63
  • Elevation gain: 4,802'
  • Trailhead: East Snowmass Creek
  • Partners: solo
  • Class: 3-4 with the snow, 2 if you find it

Note: The distance and elevation gain from Maroon Lake is comparable (14mi & 5,300'), so while it is "closer" to your starting point in straight line distance, the trails take you a similar amount on the approach and you have possibly more elevation gain overall.

The Elks are my least completed range by percentage. 50% completed right now, while the Gore is 60% and SJ's are 67%. You can say I'm not exactly a fan of the crumbly rock. Rock that has a tendency to slide and has very pointy edges and corners. So sometimes I find it difficult to motivate for these. The views are always great, but getting there is it sometimes feels like more of a risk than I'd like. One of these peaks I'll repeat, the other...meh not so much.

Since I knew it would be a long day, I got up as early as I could and was on the trail shortly after 4am. The initial part of the trail is easy enough to do in the dark, and the views only got good once daylight brightened the sky anyway. There were a few avalanche paths, new and old, that have to be crossed, but none were problematic.

The first dim views of the high peaks above were a little disconcerting, since I saw a bit more white (ie snow), than I was hoping for. I had hoped that I had given enough time since last weeks big snow storm, for much of the snow to melt, so it wouldn't complicate the routes. Even if these are ridge routes. But as it got lighter, I saw that the snow coverage wasn't all that bad.

First views of the peaks

Along the way I passed a group of 5 backpackers packing up their camp in the upper drainage. I'm guessing they weren't expecting to see me that early! As I made my way up towards the pass, I even had to walk on my first patch of snow!

Sunrise and snow patches with 13,336

The trail up to the pass had the most snow I would encounter for the longest length, but it wasn't too bad. 2 backpackers were coming down from the pass as I was almost on top of it.

Nearing the pass
Ridge fun on 13,020

The ridge up to 13020 looked pretty interesting, and I remember from ChicagoTransplants TR that he called it steep and loose (this is no longer the case).

The view on the pass was pretty impressive, and I can see myself coming back one day, to camp at the lakes.

Pass view of Pyramid
Start of 13,020 ridge from pass

Before the group of 5 backpackers could catch up, I started up the ridge to 13,020. There appears to be a decent climbers trail for the majority of the way up. The initial ridge starts off slightly to the left/south of the ridge proper, and bounces between the ridge and down on the left/south. Nothing difficult, and everything was solid initially.

Along the 13,020 ridge
East Snowmass Creek

Ridge up to 13,336

The only loose scree I experienced was the final uphill to the summit ridge. There are some loose rocks, but it seems that enough feet have trundled the route, that I can barely say that it's overly loose. Just standard Elk caution is required. The loose section is exceedingly short.

From the summit ridge, some minor scrambling might be enjoyed as you make your way over to the summit proper.

Looking at the summit, from the start of the summit ridge

I wish I had clearer views of the peaks! The smoke was supposed to come in strongly in the late morning and onward, but the current levels were less than ideal. Based on what was required to go up to the peak from the pass - I will likely repeat this peak!

13020 pano west

13020 pano north

Pyramid & the Bells

Pyramid Zoom
Bells zoom


Buckskin BM
Ridge over to Willoughby

13,336 bi-colored rock

The return back to the saddle/pass went quickly, thereby solidifying the repeat status of 13,020. Short break, then I started up the deep plunging scree below the first cliff band on 13,336. This would be a fun section to go down, but not so much on the up. After the initial scree, the cliff bands started and the talus is steep and loose. I had been wondering wether I should go to the left or right to access the last red colored cliff, and found out that both ways go.

13,336 ridge, with the big ridge cliff looming

Looking back on 13,020
Change from the good scree to the loose talus

Since I went up the loose scree/talus a bit more to the right/south, I decided to access the cliff band from that side. I found a decent ledge system that went class 4 to get to the top of it. It was loose, but the exposure was minimal, so I was completely comfortable with it. (I didn't get any photos, but it's classic Elk ledges)

Once on top of that red blocky cliff band, it changes over to the Elk gray rock again. The ridge got a bit more interesting. Like a lot. I usually try to stay ridge proper, but some zones here were pretty exposed, so I took it down a notch and dropped to the left/north in a few places. This brought me into a few snow patches. I could see the class 2 route is a bit lower than the ridge proper, as there seemed to be trail expression in the loose rocks in places.

From red to grey on 13,336
Ridge gets blockier, more exposed and class 3-4 required

As I was skirting around on the north side, I found myself in a slightly awkward down climb onto some snow of unknown depth. Of course this is when my mini water bottle in the pouch of my pack comes loose and flies down the mountain. Thankfully it didn't go too far, as the rock rapidly deteriorates the farther downhill you go. It quite literally stoped exactly where I had put my turn around and forget it spot. Phew!

Back up higher, I kept skirting, since above to the ridge itself was very steep slabs. Could be fun - if they were dry! Getting closer to the summit itself, the ridge eased.

Final ridge push to the summit

Though as I approached the last few feet to the very tiny summit, I encountered some steep snow! There was even one set of footsteps in the snow after the storm last week.

Steep snowy summit push

After that steep excitement, it was quite the rewarding summit to enjoy! Right as I got to the summit, I could see 2 people on the summit of Buckskin Benchmark playing around. Found out who, when they posted on the FB 13ers group.

13,336 pano


Ridge to 13,244 & Baldy
Ridge to 13,020 & Buckskin BM

That looks like a nice backpack in the future

Bells & Sleeping Sexton

After a nice summit break, I finally had to start the steep descent.

Steep down climb off summit
The slabby ridge section

The class 3/4 crossover rib where I lost my water bottle
Looking down ridge

As I was going to make my way to where I ascended the blocky red cliff, I noticed a small cairn down to my right/north. So I decided to go investigate. From there I could see the descent through the cliff band was much easier, class 2, and was just on steep talus. So both ways go. Choose your own adventure! Do both ways, like me!

View from the cairn down the cliff band easy access
Below the cliff band, traverse back to the ridge

Views on the descent

When I got back to the saddle/pass, I was pretty happy to be off the loose talus and scree. Not exactly a peak high on my repeat list because of the loose factor. But who knows?!

After a nice break to enjoy the view, I headed back down the long trail to my awaiting truck.

13336 summit and ridge zoom

Met no one along the long descent, as I was pretty late in the day at this point. Good weather, can't beat it.

My route up Willoughby from a couple years ago.

As I got lower on the trail, I got to see all the avalanche destruction from the 2019 cycle. Some areas have been cleared from the trail, while one hasn't yet.

Avalanche debris hurdles

Debris left
Debris right

Trail through debris

Since the snowstorm, it's obvious that the high country has taken a sharp turn towards winter. A nice change after the hot summer we've had. Looking at the fields of tassled fireweed, tells me that summer is over and that winter is near.

Old Alaskan saying: When the fireweed has tassled, winter is near!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
9/22/2020 4:02pm
work Otina! Let me know if you ever need a partner for your other peaks, I'm living in Basalt this school year and have loved exploring some of the lesser-known areas of the elks!

9/24/2020 9:58am
The rare elks look cool

Other side
9/24/2020 3:52pm
Sstrata - I have my eye on a couple from the CB side - which is a 3 hour drive for you though. Most of the Aspen side I want to ski.

Sbenfield Obscure peaks can be pretty cool

Great job as usual
9/27/2020 8:06am
Working on the centennials
And climbing Capitol on Thursday
Will pass right by the approach to these
Climbed 90 13ers so far
Love your posts and reports

Wonderful photos
10/25/2020 10:43pm
I wish I had skimmed this report instead of Furthermore's before heading up there, the amount of class 3/4 on 13,336 took me by surprise (was expecting just a couple spots). We stayed ridge proper almost the whole ridge, which was quite exposed. I didn't trust the slabs, some of the big ones seemed like they were waiting to pop out at any moment.
13,020 looks delightful, as does the ridge to Willoughby. The site isn't letting me "like" this TR for some reason, but I do like it! Thanks as always for your meticulous detail!

10/26/2020 10:36pm
Peak200 - Glad you like them!

AnnaG22 - You have just been welcomed to the Further-mored club! I almost exclusively read just his reports, and sometimes get surprised, mostly because he‘s badass. Plus it‘s not like you didn‘t know I was up there this year, and always put out a TR fairly quickly ;)

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